Of course you will make sure that your students have a complete change of clothes in their cubbies in case they have an accident, but have you thought about having some on hand for yourself? A pair of jeans, shirt, and yes – socks and underthings – will come in very handy. Hopefully you’ll never have to use them, but when you are holding a child who throws up all over you, you will be grateful.
Oh, so grateful.
Honestly, if we believe that children should be spending time outside every day (and they should), then you should also be prepared for it. I am a big believer in layering for the cold, but for years I kept saying that I should buy a set of winter overalls. Finally I went to the local farm supply store (during their after-season sale) and bought a pair of overalls for a reasonable amount. I have never regretted it. They zip right over my teacher clothes and I am as warm and toasty as the children.
This is entirely up to you. I haven’t worn a dress to work in years, but my only piece of advice is: If you have a skirt that has any possibility of showing what’s underneath when you sit down, take care of that. (And maybe that’s not a skirt you want to wear to school.)
Men have it so easy! My husband is a teacher, as is a good friend of ours (both middle school), and they teach in ties. I highly recommend wearing a shirt and tie if you are a man. You look great, and it’s pretty brainless dressing. Five pairs of pants, five dress shirts, and ties. (They each probably have over 200 ties.) The beauty of it is, you have an icebreaker – children will comment on your tie – and you have Christmas presents in the bag! (My husband buys nice ties at thrift stores. He never pays more than five dollars.)
To make dressing even more streamlined, buy all your shirts the same color. This year, he’s going with blue. (This is also a tip for ladies. I have a friend who wears tan pants, a white t-shirt, and a colored long-sleeved shirt over that. Every day. Easy as pie.)
Let me start by saying: Don’t wear anything to school that you might want to wear somewhere nice – out to a fancy dinner, church, etc. You are in an environment where paint splashes, markers go haywire, and yes – children have accidents that you will have to clean up. (One summer I couldn’t catch a break. Every time I’d wear my nice sandals, the toilet would overflow. Guess who gets to unstop the toilets?)
That being said, keep in mind that you want to dress like a professional. For your basic wardrobe, you really only need five pairs of pants. That’s what I have. I do laundry every week and that’s it. I used to buy them at a Big Box store – never for more than $20. They kind of have to be considered disposable. Usually a pair of pants will last about 8 – 10 months before they have a couple of spots that just won’t come out. (Don’t wear spotty pants.) Get some inexpensive, yet nice-looking shirts you can mix & match. (I love the show What Not To Wear!) You can, and should, look nice, but keep it affordable.
There are some steps to take to keep your clothes clean, but I don’t do them. Some people wear aprons all day, some have jacket/smock things. I just take the splashes as they come. The most heartbreaking day was when I had a brand-new shirt and we were working with permanent markers to color plastic. We had the ‘be careful’ talk and I was wearing an apron, but a little boy turned to tell me something and slashed my sleeve. “Sorry.” Oh well.
I like the thought of being a preschool teacher but not looking like what people expect of preschool teachers. I had my days of vests and sweatshirts with pictures on them, but those are in the past. You decide what your style is – then go for it.