Then, we switched to a private Montessori school this year. And uniforms became a big deal. There has been so much talk and energy spent on uniforms! Every time I hear the words “proper uniform” I just want to roll my eyes and shake my head! I don’t know how anybody gets it right, day after day. And the whole uniform situation in private schools is very expensive. We are lucky, in that there is a second-hand shop at our school, where uniforms that have been grown out of can be recycled to younger students. This has been our saving grace– another family we know spent £500 getting one child fully outfitted, with only one dress, and all of the basics. I know that my UK readers may think I’m just being silly here, but let me assure you– the school uniform situation in the USA is just so different, in my (admittedly limited) experience.
|On Amelia’s first day at her new school, she was already sporting two dress code violations.|
OK, so what exactly does an elementary schoolgirl have to have in her wardrobe for a private school?
Well, first there’s the basic uniform:
In the summertime, the girls wear light cotton collared dresses. Amelia’s looks like a candy-striper’s outfit. And I need to fix the button and find the belt that goes with it before the summer weather arrives. (Sigh.)
Here’s the one that seriously cracks me up: The Boiler Suit. This sort of thing is pretty much only worn by mechanics in the States. But the kids at Amelia’s school change into these every single time they go outside. “It’s recess, kids! Go change into your boiler suits!”
A collared shirt with the school emblem, and tiny little navy blue shorts. I’m glad they are OK with pink shoes, even though I’m sure they’d prefer black.
In addition to the summer and winter ensembles, the kids each own a smock that they wear for art classes (and maybe cooking classes, not sure!)
Not pictured: specifically-designed red swimsuit, and school-branded red swim cap, swim-gear bag, shin guards, mouth guard, hockey stick, and a pair of “wellies” (rain boots) to be kept at school.
So, let’s review:
Plaid dress, white collared shirt, school sweater, wool blazer, red or gray tights, black dress shoes, boater hat, cotton collared dress, knee-high socks, boiler suit, P.E. shirt, P.E. shorts, sweatshirt, track pants, tennis shoes, art smock, swim suit, swim cap, beanie, gloves, scarf, parka, rain slicker, sports gear, and wellies.
And to be honest, I’m probably neglecting some odds and ends, and to be even more honest, we’re probably a little non-compliant, missing other pieces of her required uniform that I’m not fully aware of. The staff are probably rolling their eyes and bringing us up in staff meetings as a problem family who can’t seem to keep their kid in “proper uniform.” Especially when hair clips are blue or pink, instead of the accepted red or black. Proper uniform is apparently super, super important. It’s how the school presents themselves. Anything that is not the same as the other children draws attention and, in a way, disgraces the school. Uniforms seem to be another status symbol, as well– in my experience, the need to dress your kid for a private school is an big expense on top of paying the tuition– it is prohibitive, as most schools do not have a second-hand shop. We only own one of each dress, and all of the items that have a school emblem on them– you can’t buy them cheaply, you have to go through a specific department store or company that has a contract with your particular school.
And here are my questions for you– Americans: Does this seem a little excessive to you? Brits: Do you struggle with outfitting your kids, or am I being a big baby? Other nationalities: What are your school uniform situations like?
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