The Scoop on School Uniforms

| August 13, 2012 | 2 Comments

Junior school children leaving schoolLast year, my family and I switched our kids to a new K-8 charter school. The benefits were great, but the school requires all students to wear school uniforms, which was something that we’d never dealt with before. My husband and I were apprehensive. My elementary-schooler was upset at the idea of not being able to wear her favorite colors. My middle-schooler was aghast at the whole concept. We were definitely not instant fans of the idea.
Since we had no choice in the matter, we bought the uniforms and the kids dutifully wore them. Having gotten through the school year, I can that several of our concerns turned out to be, well, mostly unconcerning:
The Expense
First, my husband and I were concerned with the expense. Since the kids already had serviceable non-uniform school clothes, we weren’t thrilled about buying more. Happily, we found that the required school uniforms (khaki pants and navy blue or white polo shirts) could be picked up just about anywhere at reasonable prices, and due to back-to-school sales, they were even more affordable. The school also offered to provide clothes to needy families and contributed a school T-shirt to each child as well. We did find that we spent slightly more time and money on laundry, due to the kids wearing two outfits per day, though – we made them change into regular clothes as soon as they got home each day to avoid stains. All in all, this ended up not being a major concern.
Uniforms = Too Strict?
We were also concerned that a school with a strict uniform policy — something we initially considered unreasonable — might be unreasonable or overly strict in other ways as well. With two high-spirited children, we were concerned that they might end up being considered behavior problems. Actually, though, they seemed to flourish; my daughter’s ability to follow directions improved and my son was decidedly more focused. I can’t swear that had to do with the uniforms, but it is something that advocates of uniforms tout as a positive. Whatever the case, we were happy about it.
Lack of Self-Expression
This was a major sticking point for us, as we tend to encourage creativity and nonconformity. On the day we registered, another parent helpfully suggested that they express themselves with their choice of shoes and hairstyle. While this was, in fact, something they could and did do, none of us felt it was really enough. School is, after all, about socialization as well as education, and clothing figures into that. However, both children adapted quickly and were mostly satisfied with being able to dress how they liked after school and on the weekends. And I noticed something else interesting: my middle-schooler, a budding writer, wrote several involved and interesting short stories last year. Perhaps the limits on one form of expression encouraged him to put more effort into other outlets.
Does your child’s school have a uniform policy? What are the pros and cons?

Comments (2)

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  1. Katherine G says:

    My son just started wearing uniforms this school year. I actually like it because I don’t have to figure it what he us going to wear. It doesn’t seem to matter to him either way t though

  2. Rebecca says:

    I love school uniforms! And my kids were excited about them too – they change when the kids go from 3rd grade to 4th, and then 6th to 7th, so it gives them something to look forward to. Not to mention it is MUCH easier on me! 🙂

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