The Growing Trend of Toddlers in School Uniform

preschoolers in school uniforms
School uniforms creeping younger

Today in the Wall Street Journal, Sue Shellenbarger talks about the growing trend of preschools and even daycares requiring their little attendees to wear uniforms.

The benefits: even three-year-olds are comparing dresses and judging each others’ fashion choices. The interest in clothes detracts from kids being able to focus on work.

“Children come in comfortable and prepared to focus. They’re not worried about what their neighbor is wearing or what their mom didn’t let them wear today,”…Uniforms reinforce feeling part of a group for children. Even in preschool, “if you put a blue shirt on a child, he or she knows ‘I’m getting ready for school.’ ”

I may complain sometimes about negotiating the day’s attire with my three-year-old, but there’e something kind of depressing about the idea of sending him out the door in a blue polo shirt and khakis every day:

First of all, I agree with some of the Manhattan educators interviewed — picking out clothes is one way that little kids start to express their individuality and personal identity — too early to put a lid on that. My preschooler feels so good when he hikes his Spiderman socks up to his knees and pairs his blue shorts with white and blue race car shirt. He just started to get a kick out of dressing himself, I wouldn’t want to take that away from him.

I also shy away from the idea that my son needs to “stay on task” while at preschool — that’s the part that feels sad — don’t make it feel like school yet!  I like that I send him in clothes that I know will get trashed: our preschool is play-based and the kids pay attention because the curriculum is based around their interests (bugs, gardening, clay). It’s not formal academic time, it’s digging in the dirt time.

I’ve never given much thought to uniforms for older kids, but I can see the logic. Toddlers and preschoolers, though – I say let them wear their superhero socks.

What do you think of the idea of requiring little kids to wear uniforms? At which age do you think it’s developmentally appropriate?

Image: flickr

Long live the magic! The Specialness of the Three-Year-Old

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