Back to School Routines: Toilet procedures

It’s that time of year again! I am getting lots and lots of questions about my back to school routines. Today I am covering a very important back to school routine: toilet procedures.

Toileting tends to be a hugely emotive and stressful topic for parents and kids a like. We all know that we want to use the facilities more often when we are nervous or feeling a little under pressure. Starting school certainly fits neatly into this. We are also talking about kids who are leaving a familiar environment (home/play school) where they know where the toilet is and facing a “foreign” room with the toilet in an unknown location. The pupil-teacher ratio is generally not as favourable either making it harder to get the attention of the teacher. So we have nerves, a busy teacher and a toilet in an unknown location. I think that I’ve made my point?! So what can we do as teachers?!!!! Read on…

I have been using the following toilet procedure with huge success for a number of years now. It has been an absolute life saver. The toilet procedure has also been influenced by my Montessori background. I really want the children in my class to feel autonomy especially in the delicate topic of visiting the toilet. I mean, who really wants to raise their hand and ask for permission to use the toilet in front of your friends?

I have two rather large stuffed toys that serve as “toilet passes”. It just happens that I have a whale and a shark. You can choose whatever you have access to. The girls use the whale toilet pass and the boys use the shark.

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So, here’s the drill. The toilet passes are displayed in a very prominent and easily accessible place. They need to be easily visible for all kids in the room. When you need to use the toilet you select the appropriate toilet pass (boy or girl) and place it on your desk or the spot that you were sitting on for floor work. The child goes to the toilet and then returns the toilet pass to it’s “home” for others to use. If the toilet pass is not available I must wait to use the toilet. However, if I am “bursting” and can’t wait I can take the remaining toilet pass and use that toilet. This may mean a girl using the boy’s toilet. Owing to the fact that the boy’s toilet pass is in use a boy cannot walk in on a girl using the toilet. This is a very important point. I have had problems in the past where I had 25+ girls in a class with access to one toilet and perhaps only 8 or 9 boys using the other one. You can see how there could be many girls who need to toilet simultaneously. You don’t need to vivid an imagination to know how that story ends!!!!

I like to start this procedure from Day 1 🙂 I explain and demonstrate the procedure and toilet location to one team at a time. I then help “remind” kids to use and return the toilet pass. It can take a little while to become and established routine but it’s worth the effort.

An important point to note is that the toilet pass needs to be pretty large in size. The kids can see it and so can I. I can tell at a glance who has gone to the toilet by spotting where the toilet pass is. I also like to use stuffed toys as I can wash them. If I could find something similar in plastic I would use that either.

I like to send home a letter to explain my toilet procedure. This allows mom/dad to talk to their child about how he/she can use the toilet as needed. I think that it is very important for those at home to understand the system and reassure their child.

I hope that my toilet procedure makes sense and is of use to those of you teaching infants for the first time this year.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Back to School Routines: Toilet procedures

  1. Brilliant!
    I started school at age 3 in the Oliver Plunkett School in Duncannon about 150 years ago.
    On the first day I had to ask to go to the toilet and was given permission (by Sister Majella) and toddled off. However I had no idea there was even such a thing as a public toilet or a toilet in a school, so I walked all the way home, had a wee and walked back to find a search party out looking for me. THEN I was told where the toilet was!

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