Uniform costs

School uniforms are a change for us. When K. was in preschool and kindergarten ten years ago, she wore a uniform of a plaid skirt or navy pants and white shirt (which naturally came home less than white every day. I had four or five thrift-store backups hanging in her closet).

The primary school’s uniform is a little more recess-friendly: track pants and jacket, blue polo shirt. It is also school-specific, labeled with the school’s logo. K’s uniform is navy shorts or skirt, blue button-down, navy jersey, also with the school’s logo. We’ve returned to the routine of prepping clothes the night before and having the kid(s) change into playclothes right after school.

It was around $700 to outfit the three kids in everything they needed. Luckily, we’d planned on that expense–but that brings me to a major point against requiring school uniforms. They are frequently not available used or discounted, especially at a small school. The clothes are high-quality, but nevertheless the whole kit and caboodle poses a financial burden to many. (According to the Ministry of Social Development, these are the three top-reported things welfare money is spent on: 1. food 2. school costs 3. clothing.

Clothes are the most common kind of mask we don and we mold our behavior and reactions according to this mask. For that reason, uniforms serve an important psychological function for school students. It encourages them to join the existing school culture with its attendant behaviors. And for every bad thing that schools inculcate, I still believe that a good school will unquestionably mold a child in positive ways.

In the U.S., the adoption of school uniforms has been associated–along with a general physical sprucing up of school buildings–with turnaround schools. Here in New Zealand, school uniforms were instituted along with the first public schools and modeled after British school uniforms. I’ve read that most, but not all, NZ schools still require uniforms.

Mufti days are popular (that doesn’t mean frequent, though) at K’s secondary school. Just be yourself! Express your individuality.

Walking back from school, A. saying hi to the neighbor’s horse.

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