Why I'm making my kids wear their school uniform to home school

Some children are continuing to wear their uniform while homeschooling.
Some children are continuing to wear their uniform while homeschooling. Photo: Supplied

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself home schooling my children. While I have great admiration for all the families I know who have gone down this path, it was definitely not for me and my school-loving kids. 

But here we are. An unprecedented global pandemic has forced us all to home school whether we're cut out for it or not. 

For many parents, home schooling or 'learning from home' as we're calling it, comes with an additional challenge – working full time at the same time. 

On day one we were all in good sprits, trying to make the best of it and make it fun. Our routine was relaxed; with no school run to do there was no hurry to get moving. The morning seemed to escape us and before I knew it hours had slipped by. 

I realised that we needed routine. Sure, a bit of flexibility will be important – but if we're all going to stay sane then both the kids and the grown ups in my house need some structure.  

As well as making a point of sticking to school hours, I'm asking my kids to dress in their school uniform.  When I first suggested it, on the morning of day two, they assumed that I'd finally lost the plot. But no, there is a method in my apparent madness. 

Research slows that when working from home, people are more efficient when they dress in work clothes. 

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggests that professionals perform better on tasks when they're wearing clothes that have a "symbolic meaning." For example, in the study, they found that doctors were more focused and performed better at work when wearing a lab coat.

For people working in corporate jobs, wearing a smart outfit can boost how you feel about work. Research by Joy V. Peluchette and Katherine Karl found that participants felt more "authoritative, trustworthy, and competent" when they're wearing formal business attire, and "friendliest" when they're wearing casual or business casual attire. 

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There's more. Workplace expert Mason Donovan, author of The Golden Apple: Redefining Work-Life Balance for a Diverse Workforce, says that wearing work clothes at home increases productivity.

"Although a dress code may seem silly when you think about working from home, work clothes impact you on a business and personal level and can affect your career," he says. 

I've been self-employed and working at home for more than six years and have found all this to be true. Of course, there are times when it all goes out the window and I'm still wearing pyjamas at 4pm, but when I look smart there is a big difference in my productivity. 

It's like putting my work clothes on is a signal to my brain – come on! it's time for work! The same goes for kids. Putting school uniform on helps them get into a learning mindset. 

On top of this, making the kids dress in uniform for school/learning time will help us to establish clearer boundaries between work time and down time. A distinction that will become very important in the coming months. 

Are the kids keen? Well, no, but then, if they had their way 'home school' would consist of Roblox and Zoom play dates. 

But at the moment there is so much that is outside of our control – perhaps school uniform is the small bit of normality we can preserve.