Uniform. For many parents, it’s a dirty word. Most adults remember their own bad experiences with blazers and ties. But, even those of who didn’t suffer that fate can see the damage uniform often does to kids. The main argument for the cause is that uniforms remove distinctions. They stop discriminations because everyone looks the same. Now, let’s be honest; none of us would rally against ending discrimination. But, making everyone look the same to achieve the goal seems strange.
For the homeschoolers among us, the lack of uniform is undoubtedly one of the benefits of alternative learning. Our kids never have to conform to someone else’s idea of how they should look. If you want to encourage freethinking and creating flow in your kids, you can rest assured that uniforms are no way to achieve it.
That said, it may be worth paying some attention to clothes in your teachings. Your lack of uniform rules in themselves are sometimes worth addressing. They could even assist you in the lessons your kids learn. After all, clothes form a massive part of everyday life.
To help you, we’re going to look at the part clothes could play in your homeschooling journey.
Teaching the personal touch
While most children start to dress themselves at around the age of three, they don’t often develop a personal style until much later down the line. For young kids, that isn’t a massive issue. But, as your homeschoolers get older, they may start wondering how they can express themselves through fashion. And, as your kids will be free to wear what they want all day every day, you can be sure that their experiments will be pretty wild.
For the most part, you should let your kids develop a style alone. After all, fashion is a personal thing, and trying to dictate what they wear is no different to providing a uniform. But, you should be available to help them, as well. It would be fair to say that, when we first develop a sense of fashion, most of us look to our friends for inspiration. Your kids don’t have as much influence on them. Of course, this is ultimately a good thing. They won’t be overshadowed by anyone. But, it could also leave them feeling a little lost. To help in those early stages, you might want to invest in already personalized pieces, like those found at http://www.zoeyspersonalizedgifts.com/. These will give your child a foot up, and a piece on which to base the other aspects of their appearance. By investing in something you know they’ll love, you can rest pretty easy that this will be a huge help.
It may also be worth focusing on lessons in color and art. By teaching your kids about primary and complementary colors, you give them the best chance of putting together color schemes which work well. With that building block in place, they may feel much more able to develop something which looks great.
A lack of judgment
As mentioned above, one of the leading arguments for uniforms is that they remove judgement. But, it’s easy to see that eliminating distinctions is no way to tackle them. Kids aren’t learning anything about acceptance if there are no differences for them to deal with in the first place. From a homeschooling perspective, you’re in the perfect position to smash stereotypes and do away with judgement as much as you can. And, the easiest way to achieve that goal is to remove judgement yourself. Never react negatively to what your kids choose to wear. They could pick a tutu and wellies for all you should care. Get on with the day’s lessons and treat it like it’s the most natural thing in the world. There’s a good chance that their sibling will look to your reaction before showing one of their own. And, if you don’t act as though anything is untoward, they won’t either. On top of which, the child in question will then go on to approach others in this non-judgemental way. The chances are that, down the line, they’ll decide wellies and tutus aren’t the best choices. But, the lesson they learn here is sure to stick.
Once judgement is out of the equation, your kids will see just how free they are to express themselves with clothes. It should go without saying that this is fantastic news. Through experimentation here, they will come to understand what they do and don’t like. It’s more than fashion; it’s opinion, personality, and style.
A lesson in itself
Of course, using clothes in your lessons themselves also provides a fantastic opportunity to teach about other cultures. Already, your child will be further away from preconceptions than many. Such is the beauty of alternative teaching. But, you can extend this lesson even further by teaching about dress in different cultures, as outlined on sites like thecultureist.com. From Saris to kilts, and everything in between; it’s important to expose your kids to traditional dress from all around the world. If they grow up knowing these fashions and their origins, they won’t think twice when they see people wearing them. If, however, you never take the time, your kids can’t be blamed for being confused by something they haven’t seen before.
It may seem as though world fashion doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but traditional dress is about more than appearances. Often, a country’s traditional styles are closely linked to culture, belief, and history. Japanese kimonos, for example, date back as early as 794. That’s pretty far back and could lead to many other crucial teachings.
On top of which, kids love an excuse to dress up. So, why not invest in outfits from across the world, and let your children experiment with them? This would be difficult to achieve with uniforms in place, but you can experiment freely here. Why not develop themed days where your kids live like natives to each country? For each day, they can dress up in the traditional outfit. If they take a particular shine to something, let them add it to their wardrobe. Use these outfits as a basis to teach about other aspects of each country. You may find that they really engage in this fun, method acting way of learning.
An opportunity for fun
And, that’s not the only fun you can have with clothes when there are no uniforms around. Uniformed schools often have non-uniform days, where kids can dress in their own clothes. Your kids wear their clothes every day, so that wouldn’t work. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have special days along the way. You could play around with anything, from color to style. Perhaps on one Friday of each month, you all have to wear a particular color? As well as being a little different for your kids, this could be a fantastic way to introduce youngsters to colors. You could even go all out, and get a bunch of colored wigs to finish the appearances. This is a fun way to learn, and the lessons are sure to stick in their minds. Each time they look at those items of clothing, they’ll remember what they’ve learnt. Equally, investing in clothes with specific shapes on could work well here. Again, it’ll be a fantastic way to teach them the basics.
Learning to dress smartly
Of course, it’s hard to deny that uniforms do have one thing going for them – they help teach kids to dress smartly. From tying their tie, to tucking in their shirt; uniforms cover it all. Most schools are even pretty strict about their top button policies. And, while being loose with clothing is a plus point, for the most part, it’s also worth taking some days to teach your kids about dressing smartly. You can do this by taking them out and about, and asking them to dress up for the occasion. Trips to restaurants and theaters always work well for this purpose. Or, you could do the opposite of a non-uniform day and set aside specific days for ‘best’ clothes. During these days, teach kids about tying ties and shoelaces. Stress the importance of tucking in their shirts.
This may go against your non-uniform beliefs a little, but it’s crucial to remember that it’s important to dress smartly sometimes. In the workplace, your kids may well be expected to dress professionally. And, if they’ve never learnt these lessons, they could struggle to fit in. That’s obviously not what you want. So, make time to teach things like this in a practical setting.
A final word
Uniforms may well be against your belief. You wouldn’t be alone in that. But, that isn’t to say that clothes shouldn’t play a part in your teachings. As you can see, there’s a lot to be learnt from what your kids do, or don’t wear. Clothes and dressing up also provide fantastic opportunities for practical lessons. So, don’t hesitate to flaunt that fashion.