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September 29, 2009


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Is she afraid your child won't know if he's cold? Could he not take the jacket outside in case he needed it?

I can't wait to hear the denoument.

I might have made him wear pants, but other than that I would have done the same thing. I would have said, "Wear what you like, but no complaining. And keep in mind that you won't be able to change your mind once we've left the house." I think you were being totally reasonable.

It seems like there is a line from the Devil's Dictionary about sweaters. A sweater is an article of clothing a child wears when his mother is cold. Seems that the teacher was taking a line from Ambrose Bierce. I'm sure she was just concerned for her student's comfort and the interaction went awry.

Hmm. I agree with you about letting kids pick their own clothes, completely.


Like it or not, when kids go to school you are putting the teachers in a certain position of responsibility for the kids' welfare. The teachers, by virtue of their job, are required to ensure that the children are physically safe at school, which may include making judgments as a parent might make about, say, how warm their clothes should be. It may well be part of the teacher's job description that they not send children outside if they are insufficiently dressed.

So. It's possible that you put the teacher in an uncomfortable position by not at least sending a jacket with Pete. I don't know... did you ever receive a flyer from the school, maybe when you enrolled, advising you to send your child "appropriately dressed for the weather?" They probably didn't define exactly what that means, but I'm guessing the teacher is empowered by her supervisor to make judgment calls about when a child is inappropriately dressed.

I would think of it this way. I also allow my child to decide how much he wants to eat. But I would send a lunch with him to school even if he insisted he was never hungry at lunch. I often allow my kids to go outside without coats when it seems too cold to me. But I always make sure they have one in their pack, because they might change their mind, or the situation might change.

The message to send, along with the coat (which may be carried, it need not be worn) is that you trust him to know if he's warm or cold, but it is prudent to be prepared for a change. It is also a kindness to the teacher to provide enough that she won't have to dig into the classroom extras.

Well, we have a rule about pants vs. shorts based on the weather forecast, but in general we're pretty laissez-faire about jackets and outdoor gear. It's not my body, and in the spring and fall, it's not really my call. The kids have in fact been cold a few times, because they didn't heed my advice, and it was really no-harm, no-foul.

Now I won't be the mom who lets her 2yo walk outside for 20 minutes in CT in January w/o a coat or mittens "because he can choose himself." There's a limit, and she was crazy.

But I don't think you crossed any lines today, and I don't think any of the teachers at our kids' preschool would have made the call that this one did.

My 3yo started choosing her own clothing as a 2yo (except for dressing up mostly), but I force her to wear something that is at least close to weather appropriate because I don't think her teachers should have to deal with that (and I also don't want them to think that I'm not caring for her appropriately - kind of like I will leave my strapped-in toddler in the (running) car when I drop off the baby at the sitter's, but I would never consider doing the same with the baby at daycare, but that's another topic!). At home, she is freer to wear what she wants, but I always have something with me in case she gets cold. I did force her to wear appropriate summer attire after she started complaining about being sweaty. Usually mentioning that she would be sweaty would be all it took. I'm hoping the transition to winter jackets will be easier this year since she's currently in love with wearing jackets (and hoping and hoping and hoping...).

I vote for odd - sounds like an odd fight for her to pick, and sounds like one of those situations where once she;d mad her stand, she couldn't back down. But for what it's worth? low sixties is chilly in my book:)

Pretty odd. I can distinctly remember the same thing happening to me when I was a child. As soon as the temp got above 50F, I was all about wearing t-shirts and shorts because it was "springtime." That went on until I was 14 or so. I can't remember ever having someone say anything to my mom about my inappropriate attire.

More to the point, though, if he was cold, he could have gone inside. She probably should have let him go outside to play and let him play the "learn the consequences of your actions" game.

The preschool teacher had her knickers in a knot about this when the temps were in the 60s??? I can see raising a stink when there was even a slight risk based on weather -- but there was clearly not and, IMO, the teacher was over-reacting.

Maybe a good comprise for the next time this comes up would be to just send an extra outfit to school

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