It would be great if kids would only use the bathroom at recess and lunch, but in the real world, kids often need to use the bathroom during class – sometimes at the most inconvenient times! Here are five ideas for managing this little inconvenience.
- Put your bathroom passes on lanyards. Require students to wear them around their necks when they go to the bathroom. Why? Imagine this. Your student is in the bathroom and needs both hands to deal with…well, you know. What happens to the hall pass? It gets set down on the floor – ick…double ick!
- Use bathroom time as learning time – they are just sitting there anyway, why not give them something to think about? Vocabulary/spelling words, math problems, quick quizzes, brain teasers, or current events could all go on the back of a bathroom pass. Change the content often.
- Another idea is to have students leave the pass in the classroom on their desks. You could use passes you make or any large, novel object, such as stuffed animals. Then you know which student is in the bathroom at any given time, and students would not have to ask permission every time they have to go.
- Consider having students raise their hands with crossed fingers when they want to use the bathroom. You can give permission with a eye contact and a nod instead of interrupting the lesson.
- If you have ESL students at your school, avoid confusion and embarrassment by being sure that there is a boy/girl symbol as well as the word on both the passes and the bathroom doors.
These ideas came from 300+ Tips for Teachers.
Funny – I was having just this discussion with my seven year old this evening. He has a weak bladder and can't wait for his teacher to finish talking to other students to ask for permission to go to the toilet. We agreed on making him a signal (he chose a "T" sign with his fingers so that he can signal her and run.
Rachel Lynette says
Great idea! I got the fingers crossed idea a long time ago when I was subbing. All these little Kinders with their fingers crossed and I didn't know what it meant till one of them finally told me.
Karen Greenberg says
I love idea #3! I never liked the idea of a pass going to the restroom, and to be honest most teachers aren't going to stop students if they aren't horsing around anyway. Being able to have a quick visual reminder of a student being out of the classroom is a great idea!
My passes hang by the door. The kids hold the pass up by the door and wait for me to give them "the okay" – a simple nod or "go ahead" or "can you wait until after instructions?" — most of the time it's a nonverbal response though. Then they put the pass on their desk and they are off! Easy for me, few discussions, etc.
Jamie Benevides says
We use clothes pins in the fifth grade. Each student gets two at the beginning of the year with their name. They raise their clothes pin when needed. I used one of my son's Huggies wipe containers as a collection tool. There is a student who hands clothes pins out at the end of the day. 🙂
I use hand sanitizer for a bathroom pass. I have a girls one and a boys one. The student quietly gets the hand sanitizer bottle and puts it on their desk. The bottle is a visual for me to remember where they are and then when they return they squirt a little on their hands.
Nancy Reinhiller says
I do have them sign out simply because 4th and 5th graders have been known to meet students from other classes at a designated time, etc. (Yup! Even texting for the meet-up!) Also, if there is a pattern for over use and abuse, it will be documented. Of course, it's a student-by-student situation to be determined if the bathroom time really is being abused.
Kindergarten Squared says
Great tips Rachel! I especially like the work on the bathroom pass. We teach K so I think I'll post it on the bathroom door so they'll have something to read while taking care of business! 😉
After 23 years of teaching and cursing the bathroom routine every year I finally found what works for me and the kids. BATHROOM PARADE! I have a girl and boy chart. Two girls go at the top. Two boys go at the top of the boy chart. I have the rest of the girls and boys below those two starting names. When the parade starts the first two girls go and the first two boys. Then whoever comes back next goes to the next name on the chart below them and tells them to go next. Then they came back and tap the next person below their name. It's a constant stream of children until they get to the bottom of the list and everybody has gone!! We do bathroom parade just before recesses and lunch. We have a huge discussion (and visual) about half-full bladders and going to the bathroom to try. It's amazing. It works! This has virtually solved all the bathroom issues. I do have an emergency GIRLS and BOYS bathroom pass. If it's an absolute emergency they can go during class time when they are working independently. They must put the pass on their desk and fill out the date, name and whether it is an AM or PM visit. This doesn't get used much but it is a comfort to those who do have an emergency situation. It's an emergency when….if you were playing outside with your favourite friends you would leave that awesome game to go because you would have an accident if you didn't. I can't tell you how much the Bathroom parade has changed the whole bathroom problem in my class for the better. BAM!
Carissa Peck says
I just wrote about five different methods as well! We overlap on one (crossing the fingers) but the rest are different. You may like to check them out http://www.eslcarissa.blogspot.mx/2014/01/i-have-to-go-to-bathroom.html
I have two large bottles of hand sanitizer with "boy's" and "girl's" with a purchased zobathroom passes hung around the neck of the bottle. I also put lego's in the boy's bottle and little "girly" small toys in the girl's bottle. The students get the pass, sign out, and then put the pass on their desk when they need to leave. Generally I don't want to be asked if they need to use the restroom. The sign out lets me know if someone is going too often. I feel it shows respect for my students not to have to ask to go to the restroom.
Mariam Zaman says
wow awesome ideas.especially number 3…..bcuz children often feel shy in asking infront of their friends
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