Homeschool Uniforms: Why and How

One of the jokes both inside and outside homeschooling circles is that school gets done in pajamas.  So why, in the name of all that is holy, would I demand that my kids wear uniforms?

Because I was desperate, that’s why.

One of my children, who shall remain nameless, has some sensory issues.  The way clothing feels (and secondarily, how it looks) is of crazy importance.  Shakespeare had nothing on our morning drama, let me tell you what.  A couple weeks into last school year, I was beyond done with it.  Enter the uniform.

SONY DSC

Why we love our uniforms:

Easy: Everything matches everything else.  Everything is stain resistant and washable.

Comfortable: This year we specifically shopped for comfort.  (Remember those sensory issues?)  Everything is jersey cotton or cotton-blend and butter-soft.  When winter comes, we’ll add  tights for the girls, also cotton.

Definitive: Kendra likes her uniforms because they lessen her laundry load, and I don’t blame her.  We use uniforms to define our day.  Before school begins, the kids put them on.  As soon as school is done, uniforms come off.  The school day, which can easily drag on when you homeschool, now has a beginning and ending.

2014 school year Collage

How we did it:

Girls:

Gray skirts: LL Bean, $15
Navy skirts: Target, $10 
“Ultimate Tees” in black fuchsia (not pictured): Target $6 
Navy Henley shirts: Target $8

 

Boys:

Navy polos: Target $5 
Navy shorts: Target $10
Black pants (not pictured): Target $10

 

And just in case you think I’m uptight, we have very strict rules about footwear…

Barefoot Collage

How about you?  Did you wear a uniform as a kid?  Did you love it or hate it?  What about your kids?

Comments

  1. I wear a uniform as a teacher!! It makes my life simpler to just have a few things to pick from and know that I’m basically wearing the same thing every day (currently: polo shirt + crops/ a skirt/ swishy linen pants). I like your point about defining the day- that also helps me when I come home from school and change clothes back into mommy mode.

    • When I was teaching at my first elementary school (a Catholic school where the kids wore uniforms), some of the other teachers and I campaigned heavily for uniforms for that same reason. I should have just done it for myself.

  2. I wore a horrendous uniform as a kid and a better one in high school. I LOVED it. So simple and it saved me from embarrassing myself with my fashion choices 🙂
    However, no uniforms here yet. Might have to give it a try as I’m fairly certain this year is going to be more like a three ring circus than a learning environment and I’ll be tempted to do anything that will increase my chances of academic success (as opposed to aerial stunt and equestrian trick variety…)
    I LOVE the group shot at the top. You’ve got some great looking kids, Micaela .
    And also, I really like what you wrote yesterday about “how do you do it with so many kids?” I just got too busy to comment. It was nicely done!
    Have a nice Thursday! -Theresa
    Theresa@OrdinaryLovely recently posted…ABC’s, 123’s, and Other Stuff :: 25 Things to Use With Your Preschooler Instead of a Boxed Curriculum (Part 3)My Profile

    • Make no mistake, Theresa: life here is still a 3 ring circus! Just with less burning buildings! Thanks for your compliment of my kids. It’s true, they’re very photogenic. They do not get it from me. My awkward photo:good photo ratio is approximately 10:1.

  3. My kids go to Catholic school so they have to wear uniforms. I love it! No worries in the morning and that’s a very good thing!
    Beth (A Mom’s Life) recently posted…Is that Owen Wilson wearing my kid’s gym shirt??My Profile

    • I went to Catholic school through 5th grade and I didn’t really care one way or the other. Then, when I went to high school and my family’s financial status was sooooo much more apparent through my hand me down clothes, I really wished I could have gone back to them. For kids who grow up poor, uniforms can be a great equalizer.

  4. I guess I don’t understand how this lightens laundry load. Now, instead of the kids wearing one outfit all day, they’re wearing two. Even play clothes don’t have to automatically washed after one wearing.
    Also, why not find play clothes that fit the sensory-neutral bill? Why go from sensory issues + fashionista = drama to uniforms? Everything a uniform offers in terms of sensory-friendly, street clothes also have. Plus, that way, you don’t have the added expense of buying everyone brand new uniforms. Also, you’re helping the child learn how to navigate through the world in a broader sense- “I know poly blends drive me nuts, so I can automatically discount them in all clothing choices” type thing.

    Full disclosure- I’ve always been anti uniform for people who don’t get to pick the group they’re donning a uniform for, so these questions are coming from a bazillion pounds of baggage. I’m also fascinated by the homeschool uniform concept because it’s so foreign to my homeschool philosophy that I need someone to patiently hold my hand and lead me out of my own head on this.

    Lucky you, Micaela, you’re that person! Get me out of my head!
    Cari recently posted…10 Things I Learned from Better Gardens Than MineMy Profile

    • Cari, you and your baggage are always welcome here. 🙂 No, really, not trying to be snarky. I’m not an advocate for uniforms, I’m an advocate of “what works for you.” Uniforms work for us, but I fully recognize that they might not for another family.

      Laundry: I should have been more clear. (Whatever you do, do NOT look at the time stamp on this blog post. #nightowl #regrets) Uniforms don’t necessarily lighten our laundry load; that was Kendra’s comment on my recent FB pic of the kids. My kids generally wear their uniforms and their play clothes for a couple days in a row, so it probably evens out.

      As to the sensory issues, there are plenty of times when I teach my kids to navigate their preferences, and sometimes to just get over them and deal with it. (Mass clothes come to mind.) But morning just can’t be that time for us. It’s a domino effect: clothing battles were taking up some of our morning school time. If we don’t get school done before the boys nap, then I’m too sleepy later. So I decided that in the interest of my sanity and my relationship with my kids, I’d do the thing I never planned on doing and institute uniforms. For the most part, it has done exactly what I need it to do. It hasn’t been without its setbacks, of course, but overall we are all happy with the results, kids included.

  5. I have to admit…I’m kinda with Cari. I don’t get the whole homeschool uniform thing. Or at least I don’t get how it lightens laundry. If would seem that if the kids change out of their uniform after school it increases laundry.

    But then I’m generally anti-uniform because I hate having to have specific clothes. Even last year when my girls did Little Flowers, I totally balked at the uniform requirement. It meant that evern time we went we had to scramble around to find the girls ONE blue skirt and ONE white shirt instead of them just throwing on whatever, so it was a whole new level of stress. And, I would have really balked if I had had to buy new clothes just for that (thankfully I didn’t as we had them) when they already had plenty of other clothes.

    But then we’ve never had clothing drama/fights and deciding what to wear has never been an “issue” for us. My kids just get dressed and that’s it.. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t just make sure all their clothes fit the sensory issues and be done with it?

    I guess I can understand the cuteness factor..but that’s not enough to make we want to buy special clothes. I can sorta see how having the uniforms “defines” the day, but again, for us, that hasn’t really been an issue. My kids are generally eager to get to get started on school on any day we are doing it (because they want to finish earlier..not because they are super academic or anything! LOL)
    Amelia @ One Catholic Mama recently posted…5 Things I Bought That Actually Weren’t a Waste of MoneyMy Profile

    • Hi Amelia! I think I may have answered most of your questions in my response to Cari above. You and I must have been typing at the same time. 🙂

      As to the finding uniforms factor, yes that can be a problem. I’m not a super organized person and my kids take after me. (Poor kids, if only their dad was the one who stayed home!) After some trial and error, we developed a system for our AHG/LF/homeschool uniforms: they get hung in the closet, every time. The floor of the closet may be littered with other clothes, but the uniforms hang until the next wear/I collect them to wash. So maybe I am teaching them a little (teeny tiny) bit of organization.

  6. I think this is a neat idea. I like the notion that it defines your school day. I’ve also heard of families who take a short walk around the block to “walk to school” as a way to draw that definition.
    I am not a homeschooler (yet, hoping to be someday), but as a teacher in a public charter school which insisted on uniforms, I went from being uniform skeptical to a uniform appreciator. Our uniform policy was pretty broad (specified certain colors for tops and bottoms and shirts had to be collared and skirts of a certain length), so it still allowed for some wiggle room, but it was a lot more wholesome than what some kids came in on dress-down days. Oversexualized clothes for little girls, rude sloganed t-shirts for boys (“My sister ate my homework”; “Life rule #1, blame your sister”, that kind of thing)…I came to appreciate the plainer attire of uniforms…and I’m pretty sure that some families only washed their uniforms once a week, so I bet that cut down on some laundry for them.
    Jenny recently posted…Thursday, ThursdayMy Profile

  7. Your uniforms and kids are super cute! But I didn’t get from the above comments why uniforms would be more satisfying to your sensory-sensitive child. I have 2 boys who are also extremely sensitive to clothes, which is why they don’t wear uniforms. (I actually would love to have them wear them and think about doing it every year!)

    I also don’t get how they would cut down on laundry but I’ll have to ask Kendra that one. 🙂
    Catherine recently posted…WWRW: Shakespeare & The Secret GardenMy Profile

    • Sorry, Catherine. I realize I completely skipped that reasoning. We chose the uniforms together, based on the look AND feel of them. And then we all agreed to a no-fighting clause. So because we were able to find comfy stuff and the expectation is that they wear them without argument, it works for us.

  8. Got it!

    I actually brought up uniforms with my kids last night after your post and 3/4ths of them were super excited about it and the other practically went through the roof. 🙂

    But it’s been on my mind because we’re trying daily Mass this school year (just this week so far) and I’ve felt a bit uncomfortable with the extreme casualness of the kids’ dress because of that. So anyway you helped get the wheels turning! Maybe I can find some super soft boys’ clothes in muted colors for them to wear.
    Catherine recently posted…WWRW: Shakespeare & The Secret GardenMy Profile

  9. I just bought polo shirts for my boys to wear as their “uniforms” during our school day. I’m hoping they will define the day for us. That’s our biggest school struggle–my kids are always begging for breaks and snacks and “can we do that later?” and we’ve only been schooling half-time as a warm-up for the last 3 weeks…

    Monday is our first “uniform day” and it will be our first “wake up early” day, too… wish us luck!!!

  10. I wore a uniform in high school (Catholic school), I hated it and found it very unflattering to my figure, so I think that colors my views on uniforms. It seems like the fight over clothes got a lot better when my oldest turned 9. She seems much more able to figure out appropriate clothing for the context of the situation on her own and I really only have to tell her to change when we find holes in the knees or something that’s become too small.

    I do think they all look super cute!

Trackbacks

  1. […] 3. I’m a night owl, as evidenced by every single post getting published at night/wee morning. But last night I was up super late with a little post on why we use uniforms in our homeschool. […]