{click to access and print my Managing Bathroom Trips Cards}

Earlier this week I blogged about the importance of planning out all of the nitty-gritty details that need to be taken into account when deciding how you will manage your classroom.  By having consistent and predictable routines, your classroom will run itself.
Except sometimes not everything is predictable.
Like when a kid needs to use the bathroom.
It’s going to come up all day everyday.
While you can’t control the wee little bladders of kids who have sucked down too much Capri Sun at lunch, having a plan in place with prevent both disruptions to your class and accidents.  
The expectation is that nobody uses the restroom when I'm teaching (direct whole-group) instruction, reading a story or during a small group lesson UNLESS it is an absolute emergency.
I’ve found that you need to really define what the word “emergency” means because their go to phrase will be, “I need to use the bathroom. It’s an EMERGENCY.” This phrase will be said with crossed legs while the child bounces up and down for dramatic effect. I explain that an emergency means that if you don’t get to the bathroom immediately you will have an accident. That seems to do the trick. Simply saying “unless it is an emergency” will not. Trust me.
So other than the times listed above, my friends pretty much can go when they need to. I should note that there have been some years that I also apply the absolute emergency rule to independent reading time because some friends will go every day at that time to avoid reading. 
I do only let one boy and one girl go at any given time. I suggest this policy because you will otherwise have social hour going on in the bathroom. They leave the classroom at different times, but mysteriously always return at the same time. Hence, my rule.
To keep track of the whereabouts of my littles and to let the students know if the bathroom is “available,” I created a card system..
As you know, each of my students is assigned a number. 
I print out a set of cards, laminate for durability and punch a hole in the top.
I sort my number cards into boy numbers and girl numbers and put them in numerical order.
Next, I add a colorful cover and attach them all together with a metal ring.  
These cards hang on the wall.
From a glance the students can see if someone is already in the bathroom or if they can go.  They use our classroom hand signal to let me know they need to use it and I can acknowledge them without interruption. The student then goes over to the cards and flips it to the correct number.
This allows me to easily see who is out of the classroom which is especially handy if you have an aide or a student teacher or any other adult who may send a child to the bathroom without you knowing.
The featured printable includes 2 different styled sets of number cards 1-36, a background sign, and 2 different styles of cover. It was created as part of my Blackline Design Product Collection which can be copied onto any color paper to save you money on ink. 
How do you handle bathroom trips in your classroom?

{click to access and print my Managing Bathroom Trips Cards}
 Check out my video explanation and view the completed project:


{click here to access and print The Bathroom Sign-Out Sheets}

Yesterday I wrote about my procedure for students using the bathroom and debuted my bathroom card printables. There have also been years in my career when my school required that we keep a bathroom log. 
I am thinking about doing this again next year mainly because I really want my students to be able to tell time and this would provide real world practice.
Anyhow, I wanted to share the method I’ve used when a log has been required for those of you who need to track this data.

{click here to access and print The Bathroom Sign-Out Sheets}
I created a chart with 4 columns. When a student makes the first trip of the day, he consults my handy dandy clock labels to assist him in writing the correct time in the first column. When he returns he records the time in the same column. If he goes a second time, he repeats the process in column two.
And then column three.
And then column four.
If a child is frequently showing up in columns three and four you can address the situation. 
While this may seem over the top to some of you (it did to me at first when my former school required my to keep these records in the event of an “issue” occurring in the bathroom), I grew to see it as useful data.

{click here to access and print The Bathroom Sign-Out Sheets}

I could see if kids were going at the same time each day.
While this could just mean they are “regular” (lol), it often meant that they were using the bathroom as an avoidance. For example, if I see that a student is habitually leaving the room 5 minutes into Word Study then I’ll want to keep extra watch on his behaviors and progress during that time. If a child is struggling in math and the bathroom log shows that she leaves daily during my Math Workshop I may use that information during a referral meeting to show the student is frustrated with the subject. Also, if a child was often showing up in columns 3 and 4 it showed me that he might just need movement breaks. I assign those children errands such as bringing the lunch boxes to the cafeteria or checking my mailbox for papers to go home so the child can get the wiggles out during prescribed times.


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