Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dress Your Preschooler Appropriately for School

Part of your school planning process involves having the right clothing for your child to wear to school. Be sure to choose comfortable clothes for school days. The children should be able to play freely, without worrying about what they are wearing. One year, we had a little girl, Carly, whose mother made all of her clothes. She operated a cottage business making and selling children’s clothing. Every day, Carly came to school in an outfit cuter than the day before. Her barrettes or hair bands matched the cuffs of her pants, and the way her mother combined fabrics was unusual and unique. Unfortunately, many times Carly’s pants or skirts were too long, and she was constantly tripping over them. We’d have to roll them up just to keep her safe.

Her mother told us that Carly hated getting dressed up, but her daughter was her “sample size.” She needed the other mothers, her potential customers, to see Carly’s outfits. As soon as she came home from school, Carly would rip off her clothing and put on a pair of jeans or sweatpants and a t-shirt, usually her brother’s soccer shirt. She felt much more comfortable in loose fitting clothing.

Carly’s mother had a specific reason for sending her daughter to school dressed as she did, and I always marveled at her mother’s seamstress prowess. She was lucky that her daughter was willing to wear the outfits she created. Fortunately, she didn’t mind if her daughter spilled juice on her shirt or got paint on her sleeve, which are inevitable outcomes for preschoolers.

When buying your child’s school clothes, keep in mind that they will be getting dirty. If you bristle at the thought of scuffed knees from a fall on the playground, or dot marker on a collar, find another outfit that can get dirty. Smocks are not foolproof and snack time is often an adventure in drips and spills.

As for shoes, most preschoolers go on the playground almost every day. Typical school playgrounds have mulch, recycled tires, or some other material that can get into open shoes. While sandals seem perfect for warmer days, having mulch constantly stuck in your shoes makes for a miserable playground experience. Sneakers are way better. It is also necessary to have your child wear tennis shoes on gym days, to be able to take advantage of all the activities.

When choosing shoes for two and three year olds, I find that Velcro closures are best. Once the children reach four or five, ties are important so the kids can begin learning how to tie. But for the very little ones, having to deal with untied shoes is annoying. Many shoes come with rounded laces which seem to be perpetually untied. Flatter laces tend to stay tied longer.

I learned a trick from a shoe salesman. If you loop the string twice when you make the initial knot, before you start the bow, it tends to hold longer. Then make a double knot and it should last for at least the morning.

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