Bright Ideas: Managing the Bathroom

 I am going to share something I have already shared with my long time readers, but not many of you saw it (since it was from the "olden days" days...way back in 2012 ;))  I thought it might still be useful to some of you, so here it is again.  This is how I manage the bathroom.

I am pretty lenient when it comes to using the bathroom in my class.  I really only restrict it when I am teaching or we are in the middle of something that a trip to the bathroom would ruin.  I wasn't always like this.  I used really be strict on bathroom use, until I had a class that pushed me to my breaking point.  You see, this 4th grade class just wouldn't use the restroom....ever.  They preferred to go right in my room.  Yeah.  It was lovely.  I was almost at the point that I was just going to conduct class in the bathroom itself so as to avoid what was inevitably happening with 8 or so of my students (yes, I said 8...4th graders....8 of them)

So anyway, after that year, I really loosened up.  I want my students to go to the bathroom whenever they have to, without me questioning them, but still with them being held somewhat accountable to going.  So, since starting the classroom economy a few years ago, I started "selling" the students bathroom passes.  These are quite desirable in my room and, while they do cost classroom money, they aren't so overpriced that they aren't affordable.  (my students earn enough money just coming to class each day and doing their job that they can afford the bathroom without going into debt...and the passes are sold at a "discounted rate" from that)  On the bathroom pass, they are allowed 10 trips to the restroom.  Each time they go, I mark out one space.  When they have used it up, it is done and they usually just buy another one. 

And why are these fabulous for me?  Well, it gives the kids the freedom to really feel like if they need to use the bathroom it is ok, but they are also not just going any old time (because they don't want to waste the money they did spend on something they don't really need to do, you know?)  This also gives those kids who do need a break from the room a way to get out for a second, cool down or just give their brain a break, and come back without being questioned by me. 

Using these little punchcard passes has made my life (and that of my students) SO much easier.  There is no bathroom problem in my room anymore and students really feel like they can go whenever they need to.  We are living in a happy world (as far as that is concerned!)

How do you manage the bathroom?


  1. This is so smart Stephanie (as always!). I cannot believe the issues you had in that 4th grade class! I'm not as organized with a management system for this like you are...I'm pretty laid-back about it as long as it's not during instruction (plus I have a wonderful class that doesn't constantly ask to leave this year). You've given me a lot to think about this summer, thanks so much!

  2. I can hardly focus on your bathroom idea because I can't stop thinking about your 4th grade story - that is too shocking. Hopefully you are at a place where you can laugh about it now. I do like the bathroom pass/punch idea - thanks for sharing.

    1. I was shocked too. That year sure was a crazy one!

  3. I never found a solution until I got a bathroom in my classroom this year. There's not much to do in there except "go" and there's no one to meet up with in there. They go whenever they need to and leave me along. Problem solved!

  4. This is such an excellent idea. I will be sharing it with other teachers at my school!

  5. I really like the idea of holding kids accountable for leaving the classroom. I too have a pretty lenient policy- they can't go during reading groups, or if another boy or girl is already out. I use a hand signal for the bathroom so they don't disrupt instruction. Do they hand you their card on their way to the bathroom? And then do you return it to them right then, or when they come back?

  6. Hey, I'm one of those "olden days" folks and loved the reminder ;) I still can't believe that story about your 8
    Fun in Room 4B

  7. Love this great idea!! Thanks for sharing!


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