From Our Readers: Helping Kids Make Smart Clothing Choices
GreatSchools' readers share their ideas on how to teach kids to dress appropriately for school.
By GreatSchools Staff
Thank you to our many readers who told us how they help their children to make good decisions about school attire. Here are some of their tips:
The Dos and Don'ts of Smart Clothing Choices
Do use "business casual" as a gage.
The parent of a young girl writes, "Try to be within the realm of 'business casual,' leaning a little more to the casual. It is her 'job' to work at school and learn so that she can take her place as a fully responsible, capable adult. She is not in school to show-off and call attention to herself. But she still needs to fit in with other students coming from various economic classes. This means erring on the side of being understated rather than overstated. So, therefore, jeans are okay if they are in good condition, T-shirts are okay as long as they are not offensive. No shorts, no tank tops, no sandals. And this may sound a bit odd, but since my daughter is in elementary school with recesses and other play times, no dresses or skirts. If she wants to and the weather permits, she might choose to wear a skort."
Do instill a Dress-for-Success mentality.
A Virginia mother of two writes, "I only allow my children to wear khaki pants or shorts and collar shirts to school - clothing along the lines of casual Friday attire at work. I am trying to instill in them at an early age that this is how you dress during the week and that there are other clothes for weekends. I feel that T-shirts with writing are very distracting in the classroom. My kids don't have a problem with this dress and I think they enjoy their weekend clothing a lot more than if they wore it all week long."
Do follow the school's dress code.
A parent in Indiana writes, "[Our middle school] has a fantastic dress code in place. The students are to dress 'for success' and not a day at the beach. This means no T-shirts with inappropriate messages, no slouchy jeans, no bare arms, no low-cut tops. Skirts must be at fingertip length when arms are held down to their sides. No flip-flops, no pajama bottoms, and any pants with belt loops must have a belt threaded through the loops, and no tank tops.
'[The school] is giving our children a 'heads up' on dressing for success, as if they are going out into the 'real' world and not spending a day at the beach or weekends lounging with friends. With this dress code in place, it takes the weight off parents' shoulders when their children try to wear inappropriate clothing to school. The dress code still gives children the opportunity to be themselves when dressed for school, within limits.
'I, personally, love the dress code rather than a mandatory uniform dress code. In the 'real world' not all careers are confined to a uniform, nor should schools. Dress codes are a much better way of dealing with inappropriate clothing."
Do avoid shoes with roller skates in them.
A mom in Washinton State writes, "My son is getting ready to start third grade and he is positively itching to get a pair of Heelys. Even if I were to buy them for him (which I will never do), I do not think that children need to be roller skating through the hallways at school. I know many schools have made rules about taking the wheels out of the rolling shoes, if they allow them to be worn at all, and I whole-heartedly agree! I will be very glad when this fad goes out of style!"
Do avoid suggestive words and stereotypes.
The parent of a 7-year-old writes, "'100% Angel, Princess, Sweet, Flirty.' These are all suggestive. We do not live in a monarchy, so there are no princesses. My daughter is not allowed to have sayings written on the rear-end of her clothing. She can wear original items with sayings as long as they do not stereotype or attached to a gender (e.g., would a boy wear Sweet, Cheer, etc.). Clothing that distracts from learning is out. Clothing that cannot be actively played in is out. Advertising over one inch anywhere on the clothing is out. (My daughter is not a walking billboard). No hot pink and black - she's not hott (the old term for hot or sexy) - pink items are limited to fewer than 10 - for the stereotypical reason. My daughter is nearly 8. I have to say that over half the girls in her school are allowed - and wear - all of the things listed above."