Dressing for preschool is not a topic that’s widely written about, but it is important to consider in order to ensure your child has the best experience possible and is comfortable within the learning environment.
Almost as importantly, a little preparation goes a long way towards helping your child’s teachers as well!
So what are the essential things to remember when dressing your child for preschool?
Label every item of your child’s clothing, including their shoes.
The children will often change their clothes throughout the day, including for activities outdoors. Often, for example, children will bring a princess pullover or a Thomas the Tank Engine hoodie that is the same as one of their classmates. These can go on and off several times, so keeping track of clothing is a lot easier if we know who owns them.
As a teacher, I often encounter the situation where two pairs of identical shoes are left beside the sandpit and I need to use my detective powers to figure out which pair belongs to which child.
So please do take care, when you buy an item of clothing for your child, to write their name inside – your child’s teacher will thank you and it will ensure that at the end of each day, your child’s belongings are not accidentally taken home by somebody else.
Elastic waist bands.
They might not be the coolest trend in urban preschool wear, but the classic elasticated waist pant remains the favorite of teachers the world over.
We encourage independence in our children and the ability to go to the toilet on their own – without a teacher helping undo their pants – is high on this list. So, especially early in the year, I would urge you to opt for function over style and dress your child in pants that they’re able to take down themselves; this avoids last-minute dashes and embarrassment.
Later on, as your child becomes more independent with dressing and undressing themselves, they can start wearing jeans or similar pants. Jeans are hard wearing but please ensure they allow movement for active play.
Ensure your child’s clothes are an appropriate fit.
We know how quickly our children can grow and what may have fitted in Fall may not fit in Spring. Often I see children dressed in pants that can ride down at the back, especially when sitting – that is not comfortable for the child and can get in the way of their concentration.
Shoes: prioritize safety and comfort.
In terms of the correct shoes to wear, comfort, support and safety must be the number one priority. Accordingly, sneakers (worn with socks) are always my recommendation.
Choose a pair of sneakers that is supportive and protective of the whole foot. Your child will spend a large part of their day running, jumping and climbing so ensure their shoes are designed for that level of activity.
There are alternatives to lace up shoes, such as Velcro straps. This helps to develop children’s independence and self-help skills.
Shoes go on and off several times a day – and it is difficult when, as a teacher, you need to tie and untie eight or ten pairs of shoes each time, especially when the children are really eager to get outside and play!
Sun protective clothing
Depending on the climate where you live, this will vary from being occasionally necessary to absolutely critical.
It is a part of the preschool’s duty of care to ensure that your child is safe from the sun while at the center. Preschools rely on parents to instill the importance of sun protection in their children, as well as supplying the appropriate sun wear for the conditions.
In short, good sun protective clothing means, at a minimum, T-shirts or dresses with short sleeves or long sleeves (as opposed to no sleeves) and ideally collars for sun protection around the neck. Of course, a hat (and possibly sunglasses) should be kept in your child’s bag at all times.
In the warmer months, it might be the case that children are restricted to certain outdoor play areas unless they wear a hat, so it’s vital that one is provided. If you’re in a place like Hawaii, Texas or Southern California, this is going to be an even more crucial consideration, because of all the lovely sunshine you get!
Items to avoid:
There are some items of clothing that are perfectly practical for your child to wear at home or on vacation, but are inappropriate in the preschool setting.
These include court shoes, flip flops (basically any shoe that can easily come off when your child is running around – this can result in them getting hurt) or indeed boots, which are also difficult to run around in and are difficult to get on and off.
Rain boots are ideal to wear during wet, rainy days – but not all day long; so please make sure they have an alternative pair of shoes to wear when we’re inside as well.
This is a guide that I hope will assist you as you prepare your child for the beginning of the new preschool year. Life for your child’s teacher, especially early on, is going to be fun, but really hectic. They will be extremely grateful for the small steps you can take to make their day, ultimately, a little easier.
On behalf of preschool teachers everywhere, thank you so much.