Kindergarten is a big transition for most five- and six-year-olds, for a ton of different reasons. It’s often their first year attending school for the whole day, the first time they’re on a campus with bigger and older kids, and the first time they have to worry about what they’re wearing.
While preschool is full of Elmo tees and comfy sweatpants—not to mention multiple wardrobe changes for accidents or art time mishaps—kindergarten marks a new milestone: the school dress code. Whether your kiddo is joining a campus where uniforms are a must or there’s a somewhat lax dress code, there’s a lot to learn about dressing for school success.
Most kindergartens rely on the restrictions of the rest of the campus when it comes to clothing. And it makes sense since K students are usually part of a kindergarten through fifth-grade campus. Still, some of the rules are a bit beyond what we expect our kindergarten-age kids to comprehend—and even though the rules apply to them, they don’t always make a lot of sense.
After all, our kinder kids are super innocent and often oblivious of their and other kids’ fashion choices. That said, there are ten common restrictions parents do realize they have to follow for kindergarten—plus ten more they probably tend to overlook.
20 Holiday Celebration Shirts
Another commonly overlooked restriction when it comes to kindergarten clothing rules is what kids can have on their shirts. For example, Fox News reported that one high school told students not to wear US flags on Cinco de Mayo, because the kids were planning a protest of sorts against the Mexican holiday. And while kindergarteners are often unaware of such discrepancies in holidays, parents who send their kids with nativity scenes on their shirts or crosses on their jackets might be surprised to find out that their kids’ school doesn’t allow any expression of religion via clothing, either. And it’s not all bad: the idea is to keep out any extremism that influences kids in a way contrary to how their parents want them to learn. All good, right?
19 Leggings Are Not Pants (Per Dress Code)
While plenty of parents, millennials in particular, would likely argue that leggings are, in fact, pants, school administrators don’t agree. Fox News reported that one school determined leggings were not pants and tried to keep girls from wearing them. But that became an issue when the rule wasn’t enforced across the board; some girls felt they were being targeted, while others were left alone. And kindergarteners aren’t a group that parents typically worry about showing panty lines, but plenty of schools are cautioning parents against treating leggings as pants for the younger set, too. Of course, some schools don’t mind them paired with a tushy-covering tunic or long shirt, so consider that when dressing your kinder, too.
18 Are Yoga Pants Leggings?
Another clothing controversy: schools are struggling to decide whether yoga pants are leggings?
And again, teens are the most likely to deal with this argument on campus, but even kinder kiddos appreciate the flexibility and comfort of both leggings and yoga pants. In fact, plenty of today’s kids hate wearing jeans and much prefer the sensory-sensitive fabrics in leggings and other soft pants.
Schools often ban them entirely, unless kids are wearing them under dresses, since it’s often difficult to tell the two types of leg-coverings apart. So sadly, some kids have to choose either jeans or pants rather than leggings or yoga attire.
17 Sports Team Tops Are Tricky
You might think that sports attire is one area in which all school admins can agree kids are innocent. After all, what’s liking a specific team got to do with their ability to learn or focus? But in fact, one school in Oklahoma made a five-year-old student turn his shirt inside out because he was repping for a team from another state.
Yes, Fox4KC reported that the school’s policy was to only support OK colleges and universities—and this kiddo was wearing a shirt from another state that someone had gifted him.
The child was embarrassed and confused—and rightly so—but the school stood by its controversial decision, saying the rule applied to all students, not just the older ones.
16 Is Einstein Educationally Acceptable?
You would hope, as a parent, that historical figures would be an acceptable addition to your kid’s wardrobe. But Fox4KC reported that one little boy got in trouble for wearing a shirt with Albert Einstein on it, a tee which also included an anti-war quote from the famous mathematician.
While there’s some discussion over whether the wording was appropriate, the fact remains that a child got in trouble for wearing an image of someone who greatly impacted our world, and the shirt didn’t contain offensive language or images.
Still, the school chose to discipline the child instead of changing its dress code.
15 Colored Hair Can Cause An Uproar
Another dress code regulation that parents often overlook is whether color is an acceptable option when it comes to hairstyles. Kids might be able to rock mohawks or shaved heads, but the moment they add a color to their manes, the school is all over them. And while part of it might very well be the same explanation as solid-color shirts—affiliation issues—many schools simply deem hair color distracting.
Even though it might be “crazy hair day” or “school spirit day,” color is often a no-no—even for kindergarten students. While school policies vary, this is one of the more common things parents tend to not be aware of—until their kid gets a note home.
14 Being Careful About Anti-Cancer Messages
No one likes cancer, right? But one school disciplined kids for wearing bracelets that said “I [heart] boobies” on them. It wasn’t just high school kids, either—some younger kids wore the bracelets in support of anti-cancer organizations that raise funds for treatment. Of course, the wording might be part of the problem, but we’re assuming that any shirt or bracelet that mentions chest parts probably wouldn’t fly at school, no matter how positive (and innocent) the intentions of the wearer are. So that means leave your anti-cancer “propaganda” at home, at least until it’s time for a school-sanctioned anti-cancer event.
13 Boys And Girls Keep With Proper Colors
As open-minded as many teachers and families are today, school administrators sometimes take issue with children not wearing the “appropriate” colors for their gender. And while gender is something plenty of parents argue over for the sake of their kids, schools are usually unconcerned with things like a boy wearing a pink shirt with unicorns or a girl having a buzz cut “like a boy.” But whatever the administrator’s opinion is on children’s self-expression will work its way into the school dress code. After all, most people have generally stuck to the stereotypes when it comes to expectations on kids’ wardrobes. But fashion is always changing...
12 Hair Has To Be Tied
There’s been a ton of uproar about (mostly) girls’ hair in school; parents are being told their girls have to cut their hair, use relaxer products, or simply wear a different hairstyle because their hair is “distracting.” And while this most often happens to people of color, it no doubt happens to all children with hair that has a personality.
Boys are another story altogether, but most girls have to tie their hair back as part of the school dress code regulations, and parents will likely hear about it if they’re “breaking the rules” in terms of hairstyles.
11 Boys Must Wear Buzz Cuts?
Another societal convention is that girls have long hair and boys have short hair. And while grownups get to make their own choices about their hair, for some reason, schools like to dictate to children how they can and cannot wear their manes.
Suffice it to say, most boys are expected to keep their hair short, with some schools even demanding that boys maintain a buzz cut while girls have long hair. One girl was even in the news for getting in trouble after she buzzed her hair to honor a friend who had lost her hair during treatment for childhood cancer—that’s how severe the rules are on hair expectations.
10 Measuring Straps On Tops
This one applies to girls, technically, although many school handbooks don’t distinguish either way. However, girls’ clothing is more likely to have narrow straps—or straps in the first place—especially when you look at dresses and summer wear. And this is a restriction you might think only applies in junior high and above. But even starting at the kindergarten level, most schools restrict kids from wearing “spaghetti straps” or tank tops with narrower straps. The specifics will vary based on the school and its administrators, but it’s usually a matter of an inch or two that can mean kids are sent home from kinder for dress code violations.
9 Undershorts Are Often A Must
Because so many little girls love flouncy dresses, this is another restriction parents need to be aware of. While kids in kindergarten aren’t often concerned with showing their undies, kids who wear dresses will likely need some sort of undershorts. And while it’s disappointing that we have to teach our five-year-old kids that they can’t just throw on a comfy dress to go play, most schools don’t allow dresses only. Then again, parents are often a bit concerned too, even if it just comes down to teasing by classmates. So in this case, undershorts are often a must, both for regulations and parents’ comfort levels.
8 Color Limits Do Apply
Another somewhat disappointing restriction has to do with the colors kids are allowed to wear. And while boy versus girl colors are another discussion, this one comes down to some of kids’ favorite colors—like blue or red. That’s right—some schools ban kids from wearing certain colors—normally solid colors—because of affiliations with those hues. Apart from the fact that this is kindergarten we’re talking about, which is sad on its own, it’s also frustrating that parents have to sit their kids down and explain they can’t wear a favorite tee or top because of what the school assumes is a bad sign.
7 Closed-Toed Shoes Only
Your kiddo might have super cute sandals that he loves to wear while playing outside, or maybe shoes with a bit of a heel that look “fancy.” But in most kindergarten programs, kids need to wear closed-toed shoes that are meant for play rather than appearances. Which is frustrating for some parents because after all, kids want to wear what they want to wear! Of course, the closed-toed shoe rule is understandable since we want to keep kids’ feet protected while playing outdoors. If you’ve never experienced a playground foot injury, you probably want to keep it that way.
6 Wear Character Shirts With Caution
Although kindergarteners are some of the most innocent and even naïve kids on campus, that doesn’t mean they’re exempt from school regulations on what’s appropriate to wear. For example, some schools have rules that ban character shirts—no matter what the character might be. Even if your kinder loves Transformers, for example, the school might deem those themes too advanced or mature for his peers, so it could be a fashion no-no. Of course, there are more extreme examples—like kids wearing “statement” tees with inappropriate sayings, but most parents already know to leave those at home (or on the store rack!).
5 Full-Length Shorts Must Measure Up
Another regulation that often applies to girls more than boys is the shorts length issue. Junior high and high school campuses are notorious for checking the length of girls’ shorts, but it’s starting earlier and earlier these days. You can expect your kindergartener to have to wear shorts that are long enough to meet school standards—although good luck finding those on a store shelf that’s actually in the girls’ section.
Rules vary from shorts have to reach kids’ fingertips when standing—which varies based on body proportions and arm length, among other things—to a set number of inches down the thigh.
4 Shoes That Are Comfy For Climbing
Most parents struggle to find shoes that fit their kids and that are comfortable and fun to wear. So kindergarten poses unique challenges due to both school restrictions and kids’ development of opinions when it comes to fashion. Something that parents tend to overlook is not only how comfortable footwear is, but how safe and healthy it is, too.
Most sources suggest young kids especially should wear shoes with flexible soles that are wide enough for the toes to splay naturally.
At the same time, you want shoes that will grip playground equipment and allow your little climber to keep on climbing.
3 Clothes They Can Move In
While there aren’t often particular rules about kindergarten clothing standards—it’s not black tie for sure—some parents insist on sending their tots to school in pressed slacks or sweet dresses. And the thing is, most kindergarten programs (plus their preschool precursors) want kids to wear comfy clothes that are washable and easy to play in.
If your kiddo is wearing a button-up shirt and slacks, that might not be the most comfortable clothing to climb the jungle gym in. Similarly, a frilly dress might be more itchy than fashionable by the end of the day.
A good rule of thumb is if you don’t mind it getting ruined and your kid doesn’t mind wearing it, it’s probably comfy and flexible enough for school.
2 Dressing On Their Own
While most parents recognize that kids in kinder need to be able to use the bathroom alone, they often overlook things like getting sweatshirts or coats on and off alone. And while elastic-waist pants are helpful for potty time, parents might want to consider other things like pull-over sweaters—they can be difficult for kids to maneuver on their own.
So while your kiddo might be too warm in his sweater, if he can’t take it off himself, he’ll probably just sweat through it all day long.
Of course, a more outspoken kid will likely find assistance—but it’s probably not worth the effort when you can send an easy zip-up sweater instead.
1 Must Be Easy On Easy Off
The transition to kindergarten is often a big step for little kids, especially if they’ve attended a preschool program. That’s because in most preschools, there’s enough time for the teachers—and aides—to help kids with shoe tying, zipping sweaters, and even toileting. But in kindergarten, which is usually on campus with grades first through fifth at the least, teachers may not have bathrooms attached to the classroom. This means kids have to venture to the bathroom alone, plus they don’t have any assistance once they get there—school rules often forbid it. While preschools are known to diaper or help potty train kids, kindergarten is a whole other world—so easy-off items are a must.
Sources: Fox News, Fox 4KC