Saturday, September 27, 2008


I need your help! And even if you aren't a teacher, please dear me understand this one:

Background: In Izzy's school they have a system for when you are misbehaving. Everyone has their name on a board with a pocket. Every child has a green square in the pocket when they start out their day. If they have disobeyed the teacher after one warning, they must get up and move their marker. They replace their green square with a yellow one. If they get in trouble again, they replace their yellow square with a red one. The child's parents get called and they have to stay in at recess.

I actually like this system because there is little disruption in the class. The teacher quietly tells the person to go move their marker and they know they are in trouble or going to be in bigger trouble if their behavior doesn't change. It's all very calm and and seems to make a big impact! Izzy of course tells me daily that he has never had to move his marker AND tells me every child that had to move their marker and the infraction that caused them to move it. He cracks me up!

Little did I know that you have to move your marker if you go to the bathroom during a non-bathroom break. Yes...that's right people. If you are five and you have to pee, you will have to hold it until break time, move your marker or pee your pants!

I didn't know this until a friend of mine told me her son had an accident in his pants because he was to scared to tell the teacher he had to go to the bathroom.

I would think this might be just some odd thing that only Izzy's military-type school had decided, but I was recently in another school observing another Kindergarten class when the 5 year old raised his hand and asked to go to the bathroom, he was denied as well.Help me understand this. Isn't this a basic right that all people should have access to? Couldn't companies be sued if they denied these type of rights to adults in the workplace? Why is it okay to deny it to children? (Especially since it wasn't long ago these children were in diapers and pull-ups). These aren't 15 year-olds that are trying to ditch an extra 10 minutes in class. These are little kids that don't have a lot of bladder control.

I understand the distraction part of it. It's a distraction for the class and for the students. And really, if you had several children say they had to use the bathroom....couldn't you just break out of the routine and all line them up to go potty earlier then at the "scheduled time?"

I am no educator. Nor do I pretend to be nor do I ever want to be a teacher. I don't have the patience or the endless positive attitude to do well at the hardest profession on earth. But do teachers really have to be that rigid about bodily functions? Especially at such a young age?

Your input is appreciated...............


Lynn said...

I'm not an educator, but as a parent I am appalled. I spent quite a lot of time explaining to my oldest son to go to the bathroom before it was a desperate situation. He had trouble with snaps and buttons so waiting usually ended in an accident. My niece has a small bladder so I was constantly sending her as soon as she started wriggling, otherwise there was an accident. The system of punishing them for going when they feel they need to goes against most parental advice. This has to confuse children. There has to be a better way to get them on a schedule, maybe more breaks during the day.

Liz Ditz said...

The green/yellow/red system has been widespread in schools for at least two decades. It isn't a bad classroom management tool for the early grades when the expectations are crystal-clear, and there are equally strong mechanisms for recognizing and rewarding appropriate behavior.

I loathe & despise the "needing to use the bathroom at non-specified times is an infraction" mindset. If you are concerned about Izzy, bring it up now with his teacher. If you don't get a response that is satisfactory for you, then bring it up with the principal.

I especially loathe and despise this mindset when it is coupled with the "learning is dependent upon good brain hydration" woo-meme-- which may not have infested Idaho, but is certainly prevalent here in CA.

Oh, I forgot to say, document, document, document.

I mean, kids can use bathroom breaks disruptively, and yes, school is much more regimented than previously.

My argument is that how can a child be receptive to learning when his/her mind is occupied with controlling the urge to urinate/defecate?

dannogal said...

Honestly? They have to pull a marker to use the bathroom? That's the craziest thing I've heard. Have you contacted the teacher? Does he go to our local school? I'd be dragging my soapbox over there.

Jennboree said...

Surely, this isn't just Izzy's teacher's doing. It MUST be school policy though that doesn't make it any less asinine.

Perhaps it is more about controlling children's urge to use the bathroom as an escape from class? Seems absurd for 5 year olds but there's always that kid who abuses the rule or tries to push the envelope which ends up punishing everyone.

Hmmm...that IS a very military mindset...

Anonymous said...

It is a frightening thing to contemplate that children are actually TERRIFIED of raising their hands so that they can...uh...go to the bathroom because their teacher will make them PAY for it. Good grief! What does that say about all of those poor parents who have been diligently potty training their children at home and then the children get "demerits" for trying to do the right thing at school. Doesn't that sound like a mixed message in the mind of a child? Should I stay or should I go?

tallulah said...

From my friend and teacher in Texas:
"As for the question about rest room policies - it sounds pretty inflexible to me. Even when I taught second grade, we had kids who still had accidents despite our best efforts. Kids bladders (and bowels) are unpredictable.

My policy was always that we took class rest room breaks and urged every child to go at that time. We typically warned them not to ask us to go later if they skipped the chance to go at that time. (Of course, we would still be flexible, but they got the point.) I didn't usually have too many problems with that. I have instructed my students to tell me if it's an emergency - because things happen. I will always let a student go in that case. That being said, if I was giving instructions, or something that I felt the student shouldn't miss, I would always ask them if they could wait a couple of minutes until I was done giving instructions. However, if they said, "no," then off they went to the rest room. It quickly becomes apparent if you have a student who is abusing the privilege. I am sad to read how inflexible your local schools are . . ."