My youngest child developed a critical eye for fashion when she started her pre-school four years ago. Sounds unbelievable, right? But it’s true.
Every morning I had to give her one thousand reasons why she couldn’t wear her favorite princess dress to school. And every time after hearing the word “No”, she would cry and cry until I surrendered. I am so relieved that those days are behind us now that she has started elementary school where all the students wear uniforms and I don’t have those conversations with her anymore…at least not in the morning when there’s enough craziness in our house as it is! Some days I still laugh at how relaxed that little white shirt and grey skirt has made me!
In Pakistan, a growing number of pre-schools have made it mandatory for children to wear uniforms. Many parents like the ease of dressing their children in uniforms and say that it cuts down on costs as well (and God knows how much we poor parents need that!). Studies also show that pre-schoolers are more comfortable in uniforms and are more focused at school since their little minds are not worrying about what their friend is wearing or what their mom didn’t let them wear!
On the flip side, a few pre-schools consider a ‘no uniform policy’ as a way for small children to express their individuality and consider it essential for developing their personal identity. According to educators worldwide, the process of negotiating what to wear helps children learn to make choices within their defined limits of course. Hence, they embrace this as a part of a pre-schooler’s education, rather than imposing uniforms on them.
I agree with them to some extent but I think there are more advantages to a pre-schooler wearing a uniform. It encourages discipline and develops a sense of belonging and pride in a child. Moreover, it helps parents resist peer pressure to buy ‘trendy’ clothes (which by the way can get ruined during school activities). And most important, it prevents economic and social barriers from being created between students belonging to different classes. Last but not the least, according to some latest studies, having a ‘uniform only policy’ actually improves the attendance rate by 50 percent.
Since my daughter started wearing a uniform to school, I have noticed that it has become relatively easier to get her ready for school. She gets dressed quickly knowing that she HAS to wear her uniform and that other children will be dressed in the same. One less reason to be cranky in the morning has lowered our chances of missing school!
Education experts who are pro school uniforms firmly believe that it contributes constructively to students’ behavior and that when a student wears a uniform, he/she behaves in a more orderly and disciplined manner.
And so I believe that wearing a school uniform is good for pre-schoolers (and their parents!). It instills a symbol of pride and identity. Uniforms teach students about belonging and give them a sense of order and security – all of which are very important lessons for life!