Sending the Right Clothes to Child Care
By JUDY LYDEN / Scripps Howard News Service

Children who attend a day care or preschool need the right clothing and equipment, especially in the winter. They need to be comfortable all day so they can participate in all activities.

Sometimes, proper dress requires a morning battle. But stick to your guns. Perhaps Sally Jane wants to wear the pretty pink floral dress with the bouffant sleeves, her lovely red sparkly shoes and the pretty pink socks with the lacy trim and the rosebud bouquet that dangles from each ankle.

In response, you suggest that is a wonderful outfit for picture day in September or even for her class music show in the spring, but it's inappropriate in the dead of winter.

Sally Jane screams. You say, "You can wear the dress if you wear a turtleneck and leggings and a sweatshirt." Sally Jane throws herself down and pouts, but finally bends to your decision.

Be concerned about Sally Jane's comfort indoors as well as outside. Use layering. Start with a loose T-shirt. Add a sweat shirt that bags a little, and you have an unbeatable two-layer outfit that works outdoors and inside.

There's another advantage to that kind of relaxed outfit; it can take a beating from finger paints or glue or playground dirt that dressy clothes can't.

Inappropriate clothes can irritate children and ruin their day. Tight blue jeans should be avoided (no matter how cute Sally Jane thinks it looks.) Belts are another nuisance. They don't really hold up pants; they just make toilet accidents more likely. Sally Jane can't handle belts well, so they should stay at home.

Socks are a many splendored thing (if they fit). Socks should cover a good part of Sally Jane's legs, especially in winter. The fancy socks Sally Jane picked out today will stay at home with the shoes.

Shoes for school should tie, not buckle. Velcro closures are fine if the child can leave them alone, but Sally Jane uses her Dorothy shoes as a musical instrument (ziiiip, zip,zip) so tie-type tennis shoes are the pick of the day.

As for outerwear, Sally Jane likes her bright pink light jacket better than her heavy blue coat. But it's below 40 degrees today, so sending Sally Jane to school in a light jacket would be silly. Sally Jane's coat is adorable, but it was not designed well (the hood isn't tight). Pack a stocking hat to wear with her hooded coat for really cold or windy days.

Dressing a child for a day outside the home takes some parent engineering and some thought.

Sending children without the right gear is unfair to both the child and the provider. If you aren't sure about what to send, ask your provider about your child's day.

(Judy Lyden operates and teaches at a pre-school in Evansville, Ind. Write to her c/o The Evansville Courier, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, IN 47702, or e-mail her at jlyden(at)evansville.net.)

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