Opinion Brief

Should toddlers have to wear school uniforms?

More and more preschools are putting their students in matching outfits. Will this help little kids focus on learning or squelch their creativity? 

Across the U.S., a growing number of preschools and day-care centers are requiring the toddlers in their charge to wear uniforms, according to The Wall Street Journal. Some parents like the idea because uniforms can cost less than regular clothes, simplify the task of dressing kids, and reduce the threat of being teased about sartorial matters. Others complain that imposing a rigid dress code at such a young age can stifle creativity, self-expression, and openness to new ideas. Are preschoolers too young to wear conformist clothing?

This will not do preschoolers any good: Dumb idea, says Anna North at Jezebel. "Kids are going to size each other up and cut each other down no matter what they're wearing," and putting every preschooler in the same outfit won't change that. Instead, we should be "teaching kids not to be jerks about each other's clothing."
"Why preschool uniforms are a bad idea"

Uniforms eliminate distractions: Putting everyone in the same kind of outfit helps "children come in comfortable and prepared to focus," says Kimberly Morey, executive director at ABC Montessori School in McDonough, Ga., as quoted in the Journal. When everything in their closet is an option, they worry about what the kid in the next desk is wearing, or what shirt mom didn't let them put on today. But, even in preschool, "if you put a blue shirt on a child, he or she knows 'I'm getting ready for school.'"
"Orderly toddlers? Try uniforms"

Give kids time before putting them in uniform: As someone who wasted too much time, energy, and tears deciding what to wear as a child, says Julie Ryan Evans at The Stir, "I am pro uniform, all the way ... except when it comes to preschool." We're already "pushing our children to grow up way too quickly." Using clothes to tell toddlers school is for work, not play, is "just another step at robbing them of more of their childhood."
"Uniforms for preschoolers? No way!"

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