As teachers, we all know this scenario too well. But interrupting learning time is only one bathroom issue that teachers face daily. I can think of a some more off the top of my head:
-If you say yes to one student, you can almost guarantee 12 other hands will go up.
-There are several “frequent flyers” in your group.
-Your kids think the bathroom is a place to shout and play.
-Your classroom bathroom is a mess by midday.
-The bathroom is all the way down the hall.
I always love to create anchor charts with my students. Discussing proper bathroom etiquette is no exception! There are large anchor chart pieces in this set that you can use with chart paper. List your ideas with marker or use Post-It notes (kids can write their ideas and put them in the correct spot). Later you can use the editable mini posters to type your answers and create a small visual. There are two useful topics included: “Is it a good time to use the bathroom?” and “How should I behave in the bathroom?” Students can refer to these all year!
One idea that’s always worked for me is the use of STOP and GO signs. I like to hang them back-to-back right on the bathroom door. I just punch a hole in the top, tie with string, and hang them on a command hook. When students enter the bathroom, they flip the sign to STOP so other kids know that it’s occupied. When they come out, they flip the sign back to GO!
You can also use the STOP and GO signs as a “good to go” signal. Create a small display on your chalkboard or whiteboard using the “Is it a good time to use the bathroom?” anchor chart header. Switch out the STOP and GO signs during the day so your students can take a look and see right away whether it’s a good time to ask.
One of the biggest bathroom issues I’ve faced is when students ask to use the bathroom A LOT. It’s hard sometimes to figure out who is just looking to escape and who really has to go. And on top of that, there’s so much going on during the day that it’s not easy to remember who already went and how many times! (I have a terrible memory, anyone else?!)
I was looking for a fun way to TRACK and REDUCE bathroom breaks to see who was asking me all the time, while also hoping to cut back on the amount of [unnecessary] breaks. And so, I created a checkout system that really helped! I explain the system in further detail inside the Bathroom Rules & Management Kit, but basically I use pom poms to represent bathroom breaks. I can easily see who’s asking and who isn’t.
Individual bathroom passes are another great option. Give each student three passes (or more or less–up to you) for the day/week and have them turn them in with each trip they take. Passes can be kept at student desks or in a designated spot (like a pocket chart) and they can be dropped in a specific turn-in bin.
Whichever tracking system you use, I highly recommend adding an incentive! Candy, stickers, mini erasers, and bouncy balls are all fun ideas! If kiddos aren’t asking or using up all their passes in any given day/week/month (again, it’s up to you), they can earn a little reward OR earn tickets for prize drawings. This will help discourage those unnecessary breaks.
All of the ideas above AND MORE are included in my Bathroom Rules & Management Kit. You will also find hall passes, a Wheelchair Accessible sign, labels, and various options. I really tried to include EVERYTHING you need to manage bathroom breaks in your classroom!! I’m telling you– these ideas are GAME CHANGERS!!
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