How to safely label your child’s school items

Thursday January 12 2017

Parents select school uniforms for their

Parents select school uniforms for their children at Uniform Centre along Nairobi's Duruma Road on January 2, 2016.A lot of money has been spent by parents to buy school items for their children and in an effort to prevent their loss, they have done a lot of labelling. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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It is back to school time again for many parents. For the children, it is a new term, new teacher, new school and new books. A lot of money has been spent by parents to buy school items for their children and in an effort to prevent their loss, they have done a lot of labelling.

Your child is still learning responsibility and so some items may get lost. A good way to help the children is by labelling their items. Labelling also helps the teacher, caregiver or host quickly identify and assign items to the rightful owners. Any kindergarten teacher can tell you rummaging through a pile of jackets when the school van is honking outside is not fun. I also label certain items of mine as an adult because I am territorial (labelled stapler, anyone?).

Growing up I remember my two sisters and I having very thick sweaters that had our names creatively knitted in the middle. As we grew older and more conscious we would of course pray that we would one day outgrow them but we soon realised the futility of this prayer because mum only got us bigger sweaters as we grew bigger.

Parents’ efforts to label items for their children help a lot in identifying them and of course are a money-saving strategy. However this prudent action may sometimes put your child at risk or in harm’s way and some considerations have to be made.

Here are some tips on labelling personal items for your child as a safety measure:


Children trust easily and will respond to their name. I recently realised that the name Liam is a popular children’s name when I called out for my nephew on the playground; a small boy came and stood looking at me. I asked him, “Is your name Liam?” to which he nodded expectantly, still waiting innocently for the reason I called him. If your child’s name is labelled on their backpack in big letters, someone may call them and they may follow them.  It is advisable to put the name in hidden places like inside the backpack or on the inside of a sweater’s neck collar.


The location you choose to label your child’s item is very important. Detachable parts of clothing like instruction labels can come off by themselves or be removed by someone, erasing the item’s identity. It is also better to label the juice or water bottle itself rather than the covering lid.


Instead of using names, you can choose to use other creative ways to mark and identify your child’s items. Some parents use colour-coded labels, symbols or initials. Make sure to also inform the teacher, caregiver or host of this unique identifying mark. I went to boarding school at the age of 10 and I still remember my identification number (434) because it was on all of my items, sewn on by mother for good measure.


As children grow, their level of responsibility improves. A good way to foster this skill is to help them learn how to identify the labelling used on their items. When a sweater is lost, a child should be able to tell the teacher that it had his or her name sewn in on the hem.


You do not want to make your child look like a walking billboard or a branded convict on the loose! Neatness and visual appeal should also be considered when labelling stuff.