I have been reading a lot of posts that mention restricting bathroom use in some way or another. Some only allow once a day and some that use classroom economies make students pay to use the bathroom. Let me begin by saying that I wish my students didn't use the bathroom as much as they do.
That said, how does the administration allow you to restrict or make students pay? I used to have a two stick policy that said students can only go two times a day and if they use those two times they are not allowed to go for the rest of the day (In reality, if a student used both sticks and had to go I would let him/her but I didn't advertise that). I was reprimanded by my principal for this (even though the idea was taken directly from another staff member who was never reprimanded).
So the question I am getting to, is this acceptable in your school and what if any problems have you had with administrators/parents?
I don't know if it's true or not, but when I started teaching my mentor told me that it is illegal to restrict student bathroom use. Regardless of whether that's true or not, I still think it borders on inhumane to restrict bathroom use. We spend a lot of time talking about building a culture of respect in our classrooms, and I think it would seriously undermine my students' ability to believe that I care about and respect them as human beings if I did not allow them to fulfull their basic human needs (like using the bathroom) when they need to.
In the beginning of the year, I introduce my bathroom procedure--
1. You may use the bathroom any time you are working independently or in groups.
2. If you can possibly help it, don't use the bathroom if I am speaking to the class (giving directions, or in the middle of a lesson)-but if it's an emergency, leave without disturbing the lesson.
3. Only one boy and one girl may use the bathroom at any given time. If it's an emergency, and you can't wait for the person who is out to come back, quietly come up to me to let me know that it's an emergency and you will be able to go.
4. Sign out when you leave and return. There is a sign out clipboard by the door. This is required by administration in case of bathroom incidents so that they have a record of who was in there when. but I can also use it to make sure no one is abusing the procedure.
5. Do not ever ask me if you can go to the bathroom. If no one of the same gender is out, and you need to go, then sign out and go. I tell them that at 10 years old, they are old enought to decide if they need to use the bathroom or not. The only time they have to ask is if someone is already out, and it is an emergency.
I have to say, that they are so used to being controlled by teachers that they find it pretty tough at the beginning of the year--it is hard for them to accept that they don't need someone else's permission to pee.
I also have to say that I have had maybe only one or two bathroom policy abusers in the six years that i have used this system. If I have an "abuser" then I just pull them aside with the clipboard, and show them the pattern of their sign outs. Then I ask them if there is a medical issue regarding bathroom use that I should know about, and if I should give mom and dad a call about that. They usually say no, and the problem is resolved.
The bottom line is that this policy works for me...and that's the trick in our classrooms, isn't it? To make things work for us?
We have had problems with students "trashing out" the bathrooms and the boys were going on the floor (BIG smell problem). Therefore, we cannot let students go by themselves. If they go between breaks, we must have another student go with them; therefore, I do restrict the times they can go to the bathroom. Too many students use it as a "free time" rather than a privilege. Since it removes two students from the room every time someone goes, I do restrict them; however, I have told them if they must go, please see me and I almost always let them (with a partner). My first question is to ask them if they can wait until break and often they can.
I'm sorry your principal isn't letting you use what works for you.
I have to say that my bathroom policy for my 3rd grade class is almost identical to mjh96's. The only difference is I use bathroom passes that hang on the door knob. If someone needs to go, they get the pass, put it on their desk and leave. If I miss someone, the first thing I do is look at their desk to see if there is a pass (I also use passes for the library). My bathroom passes are also "good" for drinks of water. We don't have fountains in the classroom. Some kids bring water bottles and keep them in their cubbies, but others don't. We live in Texas where the heat can get unbearable. I don't restrict water intake or the ability to use the bathroom as needed. I tell my kids at the beginning of the year (when they come to me from a grade where they have to ask permission to go) that they don't ask permission at home to go, so I don't think they should have to ask me. They generally do not abuse the privilege. If they do, they lose it. I had one little girl last year who was the queen of avoidance. She hated doing work. Every assignment seemed to send her to the bathroom, so she lost privileges. On the other hand, until last year the same child had a history of wetting her pants regularly in class, so what do you do?
My class last year consisted of 6 with a history of wetting their pants (but we only had 4 actual accidents the whole year!), and one that pooped constantly in hers! And this was a regular 3rd grade classroom! In the other 3 classes there were at least 3 wetters and another pooper!
I teach first grade and am lucky enough to have a bathroom in my classroom. I don't restrict bathroom use and let them go as needed. However, I do tell the children that they need to ask first. (unless there is an emergency) This is in case of a fire drill in which case I need to know quickly where all of the children are.
My principal is constantly on us not to let so many students to the restroom unsupervised. I give the students a morning pass and an afternoon pass. We take a break together before lunch. If students need more than that they have to pay $5 from their classroom money. This is a very small amount compared to what they earn. I actually rarely collect the money unless too many students start ask me. It is just enough to keep kids from just leaving to be wandering the hall. Honestly, if a ten year old needs to use the restroom more than three times a day on a regular basis, they probably have a medical problem and I need to talk to the parents. I do send a note home at the beginning of the year that tells the parents to please write me a note if their child at any time needs more passes.
A lot depends on your class. Last year I had students who would ask me less than a half hour after they had just gone. I would say"You just went at 1:45 and it is only 2:00 now." The kid would say "Oh, yeah, I forgot." They really did just want to wander.
I just finished up my first year teaching 3rd grade and had few bathroom problems. I didn't make a big deal about bathroom usage in the first place, which in my opinion lowers the excitement somewhat. You know how sometimes we as teachers can make such a big deal about something it actually entices the kids, rather than discourages them...?
Anyway, each child's name is on a popsicle stick on the front board (where they make lunch choices for attendace purposes). I let the kids know that they may use the bathroom when they need to, however, it cannot be during a lesson when I am teaching/talking to the whole group. Otherwise, they are free to move their stick and use the bathroom during the day. Only one boy and one girl may be in the bathroom at any given time. I explain to the kids that when they are in the bathroom, they are missing what we are doing in class and that it is important that they return quickly.
I also explained to the kids that if I believed they were abusing this priviledge (sp?) that they would no longer be able to use the bathroom when they wanted. It was only on a few occassions that I had some bathroom abusers (constantly going all morning or using it to get out of class), and I limited their time to once during the morning and once during the afternoon as reminders. Really, though, it worked easily for me and maybe this will help you out, too!
My policy is similar to MJH96's. I teach fourth grade and am lucky enough to have a bathroom in the classroom. That eliminates most of the problems. I'm not comfortable restricting their usage. It's bad enough that I can't go when I need to, why push that on the kids? I've had children with ADHD who really need to take some small breaks during the day. As long as they don't take too long, or make messes, I'm fine with it. I had a child this year who was a very "nervous nellie," and needed to use the bathroom immediately before we ever left the classroom. I think he was afraid that the art, music, phys. ed, library, cafeteria monitor wouldn't let him use it if he needed. There's bigger things in life to worry about.
I've always struggled with this because I don't want anyone to have an accident, and I don't want students to waste time. Our only optional bathrooms for students are in the front office, which is quite a walk for my third graders. We are required by the district to send students in pairs whenever they walk out of the classroom. I would like to have a free use system where students can go when they need. If a student is abusing the privilege, then I can talk to the students or their parents. How do I explain to parents why thier kid, who didn't need to go to the bathroom but had to walk with someone, is missing class? I can't let them choose someone to go with them because they choose their friends and take their time. I can't ask if anyone else needs to go because at that moment, everyone does...what can I do?
At my school, we've had boy bathroom problems too (creating art work with feces, peeing on toilet paper rolls, etc.). What I have done for the last few years is take one morning and one afternoon class break. Then students are allowed one extra monring and afternoon break to take by themselves if needed. I have a check list that they mark off their morning or afternoon break. I only let one boy and one girl out at a time for individual breaks. This allows for 4 breaks in 6 1/2 hours. This isn't even considering if they took a break at lunch or in Specials. I've never had someone complain, but if it happens, I will deal with it when necessary. I have had students with special medical needs that require going to the bathroom frequently. I don't limit those situations when we have documentation from the PCP on file.
I teach first grade, and I have passes that the kids put on their desks when they have to go to the bathroom. Only one of each gender at a time. I have never really restricted bathroom use because you never know with first graders. I had a little girl this year that pooped her pants at school, and when her dad came to get her, she told him that she had asked to go to the bathroom and I had told her no. Her dad came back after school loaded for bear. He went to the principal, who called me in to find out what had happened. I told them that the little girl had never asked, but that if she had, I would have let her go. I would NEVER want that to happen to any child. There was another adult in the room all afternoon, and she knew that the child hadn't asked to go. The dad was still angry, but there wasn't much he could say.
I am one of those teachers that has a classroom economy and use it for bathroom breaks. We also have had numerous problems in our bathrooms and we are not allowed to send more than 1 girl and 1 boy for a break at a time unless we are going as a class. We take 3 bathroom breaks a day as a class and the students are allowed to go to the bathroom before the first bell rings as the bathrooms are monitored in the AM. If they need to go to the bathroom at other times, they may pay $1 and go - they do not need to ask - just go. They get plenty of $ to be able to go pretty much as often as they need to. I also tell them that if they are having an issue where they need to go a lot, they can talk to me and we will forgo their payments for that day. I have not had any complaints from parents or administrators about the way that I handle bathroom breaks, and have only had 1 student in 3 years that consistently ran out of $ - I let him go anyway.
I do restrict bathroom useage. However, there are several times during the day that they may go. They are encouraged to go before school. They are able to go before and after morning recess. They go before lunch, after lunch, after noon recess, before and after pm recess, before and after title , before and after all specials, and after school (some have very long bus rides). If they have an emergency, they may go. However, they can not get up during class and go. They do have a lot of opportunities to go during the day. The longest stretch of time without the bathroom is a little over an hour. If they use the bathroom when they are supposed to, there are no problems. It works just fine for me!
My principal does not want students using the restroom during the day. If they do have to go, we are only allowed to send one student at a time. I use different hand signals in my class. I have one for the bathroom. I usually do not have a problem with students going. I tell my class I will never say no to an emergency. I also remind them it would be soooo embarrasing if they went in their pants since they are in second grade now. I haven't had any accidents in years! However, if the emergency is right after recess or lunch, the student will owe me 5 minutes of recess time. I write their name on a post it, and they pay their time. It works for me!
I too make students pay classroom money if they have to go right after a bathroom break. I really don't seem to have a big problem with this because they know they will owe me jungle bucks if they misuse the bathroom. They seem to do a good job about going when they need to go. I never not let someone go if it's an emergency. Next year though if I do brain gym I am concerned because brain gym requires them to drink water more often.
I restrict bathroom use somewhat. I teach 4th. This past year, our schedule was such that there was a break of some sort (recess, lunch) every hour or 1 1/2 hr. So the rule was you used your break to use the restroom (just like the teacher). If someone came up and needed to go , I would let them (one kid at a time), but remind them of the suggested times to go. I rarely had a kid ask to use during the off times, so it worked out pretty well. I definitely need to know where the kids are at any given time though, for fire drill, etc, purposes.
I teach 2nd grade and have my own child who has bathroom issues. He actually has a pacemaker to help control his urges. That said, I understand medical issues that require kids to go more frequently. In my class we take a break as a class about every hour to hour and a half. I have a problem with the kids not using the bathroom when we take a break, so if a student without a medical issue needs to use the restroom at a time other than a break time, I take away recess time. This also makes the kids who want to take a walk or waste time think twice about it. The kids with true emergencies will go ahead and go, and the others will usually wait. I do tell them that I don't want them to have an accident and I only take recess on a case by case basis.
I have a boy's pass and a girl's pass. The children are free to take them when they need to. Once in a while I have problems with kids abusing this priveledge but not often. I don't think it is a good idea for us to control their bathroom times. Some children have health issues that require they go more often. Some children don't like to go with others in the bathroom. I thought it would bother me with the constant leaving the classroom, but they really don't abuse it. There are only certain times I prefer they don't leave the classroom unless it's an emergency, and they understand those times. I used to control bathroom visits but never really liked doing that. I'd hate for someone to tell me when I could go!
I personally use the bathroom quite often...because I am trying to lose weight and I drink a lot of water
The entire class goes:
**after recess (almost end of the day)
I also have 1 girl pass and 1 boy pass/ the students(3rd grade) raise the pass in the air and I either shake my head yes or no...if I know they just came back I shake my head no...otherwise I shake it yes...
I really don't have many problems with the bathroom because we go so often....
I also don't have many students asking during the day because they know we go during the above times....I have not had a student accident in my career! I am thankful for that.
I teach sixth-grade and as the school year goes on, students will try to take advantage of going to the bathroom. I usually let them go until it becomes abusive then I set a class rule that if they go to the bathroom during class, they owe me two minutes at nutrition, lunch, or after school. It's amazing how many students suddenly no longer need to go. This has worked well for me to weed out the ones who are just using it as an excuse to get out of class. I should also say that they have plenty of opportunities to take care of business before school, at nutrition, lunch, and during the passing period.
I have a bathroom in my classroom and most of the time I let them go whenever they needed to. We have a signal (one finger up), I just nod and they can go. Sometimes if I am giving instructions or something, I will ask them to wait a few minutes. I noticed that it's usually the same 3 or 4 students who have to go at least 4-5 times a day, while most of the others never seem to have to go. I don't really mind. I think they sometimes go just to have a time out from the classroom. As long as they're not playing, or taking too long, and they can still get their work done, it's fine with me. I remember when I was in school, I would do the same thing.
I don't know if it's ever been an issue with our administration. I take several bathroom breaks a day (7:30, 9:00, 10:30, 12:00, 2:00) as a class, so my students really have no reason to go at other times. That being said, I DO allow them to go at other times as long as I'm not in the middle of teaching. If I sense that it's being abused by one particular student, then I'll talk to them individually. That rarely happens. Sometimes I'll get a note from a parent saying her child had some intestinal issues and might need to go more often that day. I'm fine with that. They also know they have permission to get up and RUN out of the room if they think they're going to be sick - they don't have to ask permission for that!
One year I did have a run-in with a parent when I wouldn't allow her 5th grader to go to the bathroom 5 min. after we got back (and I just started teaching a lesson). He admitted he was goofing off in the bathroom instead of going. Mom still got mad at me. That's the first (and last) time I had to say to a parent, "We'll just have to agree to disagree".