Teachers Must Wear Underwear: Homeschool Dress Code

By Dr. Jon

Manage Well Dear Superintendent

I guess it is getting really bad in some school districts. Back in August 2013 an Arkansas school district enforced a new dress code, which requires its teachers to wear underwear to school every single day. It makes one scratch their head – in my experience if you have to bring it up, it must be a problem. Female teachers will have to wear bras. And to top it all off: no spandex allowed for any of the teachers.

As you can imagine the teachers union was utterly shocked. The school district should know better than to pick a fight with the teachers union. And for this Arkansas district they lost that fight as the Department of Education intervened and assumed control of management. The state school board has taken over responsibility from the local school district, letting the superintendent keep his job on an interim basis. Which brings me to ask – how well are you running your local homeschool district?

As a homeschool family, most every aspect of management rests on our back.

What is your homeschool dress code?

You may not have given this much consideration and, big picture, it shouldn’t be a high priority. So I won’t require you to wear one thing over another, but you should know that if the teacher wears pajamas to class the students will as well. I know, I know. That is a common practice for many homeschooling families – and there is nothing wrong with that. It does spoil the fun of a pajama day though.

Is there any benefit to what you wear in a homeschool environment?

If you look at the public schools you will find a huge variety of student attire and even teacher attire. If you spend time disciplining people on what they are wearing it takes away from the learning experience – or at least the learning experience in which you intend. Inevitably you are going to end up with an argument at the least.

Some schools have tried to remedy this by instituting school uniforms. I think this, in principle, is a great solution. However, it is just another dress code in the end. As a dress code, uniforms have less flexibility and potential of interpretation. As a result you would end up with fewer arguments, but I’m sure they still happen.

The question still remains as to the benefits of a homeschool dress code. I’m sure there are studies available, but for me it comes down to whether it changes the dynamics of the environment of learning that we want. To have a dress code simply seems like a distraction and that is certainly evident in most public schools.

Establish Structure

There are benefits to establishing structure regardless of whether a dress code exists or not. For example: having the kids wake up at a certain time, get ready for the day, and starting their homeschool curriculum on time is great for productivity. Flexibility and leniency is one of the great benefits of homeschool, but being so flexible that structure is completely obsolete can be a hindrance. So for me there is a time that a dress code is beneficial and that is when it aids structure.

Do you do field trips and extracurricular activities?

It’s an old myth that homeschoolers are socially awkward, because they are deprived of being exposed to a classroom of 20+ kids of a similar age. Nonetheless, we like to give our kids a variety of experiences including field trips or being involved in sports or music. It allows them to have structure, sprinkled with variety. Now I don’t mind if my kid wants to wear his Captain America costume in January for no other reason than Captain America is cool – just not every time we go out.

Here is where a dress code comes in handy. I call it my non-dress code dress code or “dressing by the numbers”. It is the beauty of structure without having to be an enforcer of the law. All you do is create a wardrobe for each of the children, based on their likes and your approval. You might think that creating a wardrobe for each kid is a little extreme or expensive, but this can be accomplished surprisingly affordable. Older children will obviously be more independent, but they will see the beauty of this process and probably adopt it for themselves.

Dressing by the Numbers

This is a recommendation of making things simple. Take a child and identify the shirts that they like and are in good condition. Count them up and then I recommend that you, with your child, get enough shirts to total 5-8 shirts, but not 7. These will be numbered on a tag, hanger or even a chart. The child will then simply rotate through the numbers. My second son, Sunny, has a drum class once a week and so by having a number other then seven means he will be wearing a different shirt each time and it is accomplished without any thought. Pants don’t typically require the same rotation and you can probably get by with three or four pairs. I don’t need to go through the whole gambit – I think you can see how it is done. Have fun with it and once you set it up it is done.