Uniforms for Preschoolers? No Way!

Princess Dress UpMy son goes to a private elementary school and is required to wear a uniform every day. I adore this fact, or rather would if the shirts weren't white (white!), but that's another matter. Still, even with a big bleach bill, I love the convenience a uniform offers as well as the fact that I don't have to fight with him or deal with the drama of what he wants to wear vs. what I want him to wear vs. what his friends are wearing.

I wasted way too much time and energy and too many tears bemoaning what to wear to school from a young age. I would have loathed them at the time as I was an aspiring fashion designer and would have raged about my creativity being stifled, but a uniform would have helped on so many levels. So I am pro uniform, all the way ... except when it comes to preschool.

According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, more and more preschools are requiring students to wear uniforms. While I get the reasoning behind it, it breaks my heart.


A teacher from Delaware was quoted as saying uniforms send a message that "this isn't playtime, this is school now." I agree that's the message they send ... and I don't think that message should be sent in preschool.

Already we're pushing our children to grow up way too quickly and turning preschool into the new kindergarten and beyond. Uniforms are just another step at robbing them of more of their childhood.

When I dress my 2-year-old for preschool, if she demands a princess costume one day, great. She lives in a world of make believe now, and I love it. Preschool for her is about play, so why not? As long as her teachers don't care, let her, this is the time of her life she can. So if we take that only time away, then what?

She twirls in her swishy skirts, parades in her pretty pink things, and sometimes doesn't care at all. But when I kiss her and walk away, I see a little girl ready to have fun, not one who is ready for a day of work.

Uniforms are serious; they send a message to kids that it's time to get down to business, which is fine when it comes to grade school. But life gets too serious too quickly anyway, and I don't want my preschooler getting down to business. I want her to learn, yes, but I want her to learn through play and expression and creativity -- like many studies say is the best. I don't want to stuff her into a stuffy 2T polo and khakis. Besides, finger-paint stains are much less noticeable on bright flowery dresses and stripped sparkly tights.

What do you think of uniforms for preschoolers?

Image via Julie Ryan Evans

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