Children often recognise jobs by their clothing – some have uniforms, while others require special workwear. Teaching your child why these clothes exist builds their knowledge about jobs, and lets you reinforce some important safety lessons. Here are five types of work clothing to get your child thinking about.
Emergency workers wear uniforms so that everyone can recognise them quickly. Imagine what would happen if police, fire fighters and ambulance workers wore the same clothes as everyone else! For safety, make sure your child can recognise the police, fire and ambulance uniforms of your local services (they might be different from the uniforms your child sees in books and on screens).
Another function of many work clothes is safety, so talk about how clothes keep workers safe. Why does the person at the school crossing wear a bright vest? Why do farmers wear gloves and masks when they spray crops? What would happen if construction workers didn’t wear hard hats? Get your child to think of safety clothing you have at home – how about oven gloves, washing up gloves, safety goggles and work boots? Ask them if they have any safety clothes of their own. What about their sunhat? Or a bike helmet? Or sunglasses?
Some workers wear special clothes to protect their normal clothes underneath, especially in jobs where they might get dirty. Can your child think of any examples, such as car mechanics, plasterers, or artists? You might have some protective clothing at home too, like aprons or overalls. Does your child have any protective clothing, like an art smock?
Other workers wear uniforms to make it easier for customers to find them. Help your child to notice them at the shopping centre, or when you’re travelling on public transport – common examples include chemists, supermarket staff, bus drivers and security guards (and of course, school uniforms). Sometimes these uniforms are very obvious, and sometimes there’s just a small logo. In other cases, the worker might just wear a special name badge with their normal clothes – this is often the case for teachers.
To help them do the job
Other work clothes help people do their job. The colours of a park ranger’s uniform help them blend into the bush, so they are less likely to disturb the wildlife. Actors and dancers wear different clothes for the different roles. Many sports people wear special clothes designed to help them perform better at their sport. Can your child think of any examples? They may even have some examples of their own – how about swimming goggles and caps?