School uniform: What you need to know

This article was first published in August 2019

There’s a lot to think about when your child is starting school for the first time and for many parents one big thing to consider is school uniform. You might be wondering: 'What size should I get? How many of each item? What if my child grows quickly?' Check out the uniform checklist below for some top tips.

What type of uniform should you get?

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Your child is going to be wearing their uniform for around six hours a day, five days a week, so it needs to be comfortable. Ask them to try it on when you get it to make sure that it is comfortable for them.

Young children need clothes that are easy to get on and off when they are getting changed for PE or going to the toilet. Clothes with elasticated waistbands, and shoes that fasten with Velcro are good for this, but zip and button fasteners or laces can also be good options if your child can manage them.

What size should you get?

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Instead of buying new clothes, there are plenty of other options including school uniform items that other pupils have outgrown. Schools sometimes hold sales and clothes swaps with other parents and they may also know of local schemes and charities where uniforms are available.

Equally, remember that when your child outgrows their uniform, you could always donate it to charities or the school for other children to use. Some charities encourage people to recycle and donate old school uniform items. Schemes like this make it easier to get school uniform when you’re on a budget and help to reduce waste.

How many sets of uniform does your child need?

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The number of uniform sets your child may need depends on your budget and how much you will be washing them. Your child will be wearing uniform for five days of the week but, depending on how clean it is, they may be able to wear a number of times before washing.

It’s worth noting that children can get very messy in school when they are playing, having lunch or making things in the classroom, so it is probably better to have at least two pairs of shirts and trousers/skirts.

How to get them prepared for wearing a uniform

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Wearing a school uniform will be a change for your son or daughter and is something they will need to get used to. Trying school uniform on in the summer holidays can make it fun and exciting to have a uniform. Not too early though as they may grow by the time school arrives. It's also a good idea to 'wear in' any new shoes gradually in the days before starting.

Getting children to practise taking their uniform on and off during the summer holidays can prepare them for when school starts and help them get excited about the school year. This can help them become independent in school when changing for PE or going to the toilet.

How to help your child recognise their uniform

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Labels, labels, labels. That’s right, it’s a good idea to label every piece of your child’s clothing, as it will usually look almost identical to other children’s uniform.

Another child could pick up your son or daughter’s clothes by accident, or vice versa, so it’s always best to help them recognise their own uniform with labels.

Sewing labels into the clothes (including coats) will be more secure than sticky labels and has more chance of staying put. You could also try writing in permanent marker on the existing labels if sewing them on is too time consuming. Encouraging your children to help with the labelling can help them take ownership of their uniform.

Seasonal dressing for school

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As the seasons change children will need warmer or cooler clothes, and although it's tempting to plan ahead try not to get more uniform items too far in advance. Some schools also have special summer uniforms so check with the school to see if that's the case for your child's school.

For further information check out the rest of Starting Primary School which has lots of ways to help prepare children for different aspects of school life – both practically and emotionally.

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