The child’s clothes
The clothes your children wear to school play a big part in their day. Indeed, learning to be independent requires frequent dressing and undressing. Over the course of the day, your child will likely undress and dress… 6 or 7 times!
When the child arrives at school, he or she will have to take off his or her jacket or coat and remove his or her shoes or boots to put on slippers. Then, your child will get dressed to go out at recess. This cycle will repeat several times during the day.
Of course, educators and teachers will provide some help, but the group has its requirements: your child will have to wait his or her turn. Transitional periods, such as dressing or undressing, can be frustrating if they involve “practical” problems.
And clothes can be a source of many a frustration! This may include clothing that is too restrictive, awkward or inadequate for children’s movement; buttoning or lacing systems that are very complicated for their little fingers…
You would (paradoxically) be helping your child tremendously if, a few weeks before school starts, you encourage him or her to put on and remove his or her shoes and clothes independently.
It may be faster to do it yourself, but this is a necessary exercise to make your child independent.
Shoes with laces
For shoes, laces are not yet recommended. Also make sure that the shoes are the right size, because kids grow up fast! Be sure to check the slippers that the child wears to school as well. Not only can too-small slippers be difficult to put on, they also could become uncomfortable and get in the way during the day. Don’t forget rain boots to keep your child’s feet dry. When it’s hot, avoid sandals that don’t protect the toes, such as flip-flops. Children often fall while playing, so unprotected toes might be put to the test. Finally, shoes that are too big can be a fall risk by creating an imbalance when the child runs, for example.
Jackets, coats, blousons
Jackets, coats, vests: Fastenings should be as simple as possible. Zippers are often preferable to a series of buttons. Things get more complicated with the arrival of winter. Opt for a ski suit! This is a single piece of clothing to put on, rather than two (a pair of snow pants plus a coat).
Make sure that your child’s head passes easily through the neck. Avoid buttons to close the neckline or unnecessary zippers.
Nothing is easier to pull down or up than pants with an elastic waistband, especially when the need to go to the bathroom becomes urgent. Sweatpants are preferred. For girls, leggings are always practical and still allow the wearing of dresses, which many little girls love to wear.
Avoid loose or long dresses that can get caught in play areas and impede movement.
Mittens (rather than gloves), scarves, hats or toques should be identified with your child’s name. These items are regularly forgotten in the hallways or outside and only find their way back to their owner if they are marked with his or her name and sometimes his or her classroom, which can be helpful in large institutions. Avoid non-essential accessories, such as decorative sunglasses or jewelry (which get broken or lost, often causing great grief that can ruin the day at school).
If you find an item of clothing difficult to put on, button, fasten, or remove at home, you can be sure that your child will have the same difficulty when trying to do it on his or her own at school.
Instead, focus on comfort, weather suitability, ease of handling, and freedom of movement. These are the principles to remember first; they far outweigh aesthetics or fashion!
You should be given directions by the teacher as to what change of clothing the child should have available in case of an “accident”. The arrangement may be different in each school, but, most often, the child has a locker or bag where the school keeps a change of underwear and one or two pairs of pants. Don’t forget to check often to make sure that these spare clothes are still the right size, as children grow quickly.