It happens in classrooms across the world everyday . . . a child asks their teacher to use the bathroom as an excuse to leave the classroom. The teacher calmly tells the student no and asks that he/she return to their seat. Is there proper justification for this response? Maybe the teacher just took the entire classroom to the bathroom or maybe this is a student who is renowned for taking bathroom breaks at the most opportune times, including during testing or when a subject is being taught that does not grasp the students attention. Whatever the reason, can the teacher really distinguish whether the student really has to use the bathroom or not?
Constant requests by students to use the bathroom can definitely disturb a teacher’s ability to teach as well as a student’s ability to learn. Many teachers have made attempts to resolve the bathroom issue by scheduling bathroom breaks throughout the school day. Granted, while this is a solution to decreasing the number of bathroom requests throughout the day, it is not a full proof solution. The teacher has to take in consideration the number of students who did not use the bathroom because they didn’t have to go at the scheduled time. Scheduling bathroom time still does not give the teacher the right to deny a child permission to use the bathroom.
There is also the issue of a student who has a medical condition that triggers the urge to use the bathroom several occasions throughout the day. If a teacher notices that a student has frequent urges to use the bathroom throughout the day, it is the teacher’s responsibility to schedule a meeting with the parent and discuss a possible medical condition. The teacher should not try to determine whether or not the child has to go the bathroom, but design a system with the student that would prevent bathroom needs from interrupting the classroom.
Bathroom breaks are a student’s best excuse to leave a classroom, meet a friend in the hall, get a drink of water, etc. Unfortunately, a teacher cannot determine whether a student actually needs to use the bathroom or is using the bathroom as an excuse to get away from the classroom. If a teacher notices that a student constantly requests bathroom breaks and has been reassured there is no medical condition, alternative strategies should be created to combat the student’s bathroom urgencies. Strategies may include involving the student more in classroom activities and lessons; asking the student if they can wait until they receive the important information you are giving to the classroom; allowing the student to use the bathroom but giving the student a set amount of time to take a bathroom break. With a little creativity, the teacher may actually witness the bathroom breaks lessen.
There is no way to determine whether or not a child has to use the bathroom. But in order to prevent a larger and messier problem, the best thing to do is to allow the child to use the bathroom.