Let’s be real… “can I go potty?” is more contagious than a yawn! As early childhood teachers, we also know that this can derail our classroom flow and throw off our lesson.
According to EducationWorld.com, “the term classroom management refers to the procedures, strategies, and instructional techniques teachers use to manage student behavior and learning activities… Ineffective classroom management often creates chaos.” For this reason, potty trains fall along the lines of classroom management in my book.
Bottom line, kids will have to go to the restroom during class. It happens in every class, in every studio, in every country all around the world. They are children. You should not tell a child they cannot go to the restroom, unless you enjoy cleaning up accidents. So, what strategies can we put in place to (hopefully) avoid the chaos that is, “the potty train”?
Here are 5 strategies I use in my early childhood classes:
1. Create developmentally appropriate lesson plans. Are you really surprised this is my first tip? :) In all seriousness, if you are teaching at the child’s level, reaching multiple learning styles, and creating a fun experience for your little ones, THEY WON’T WANT TO LEAVE. In fact, you will have to have your “potty dance” radar on and send kids to the bathroom against their will. If your lesson is too challenging or not challenging enough, their little brains will drift and start to wonder “how can I get out of this situation?” Hence, having to go potty.
2. Review your Potty Policy. Short and simple...
3. Use the ONE at a time rule. I only allow one dancer to go to the restroom at a time. This allows me to distract any dancers who have also said they need to go to the restroom while they wait for their friend to return. IF they truly need to go, they will remember. IF they really don’t need to go, they will forget.
4. Remember, potty break = attention. Last summer, I was doing administrative work during a camp for our little ones. I kept noticing our teen assistants walking through the lobby guiding a little one to the restroom. They would wait outside the door, ask if the dancer was ok, then guide them back to the studio. This happened over and over and over again. FACT---> little ones are A LOT smarter than we think. These kids knew if they asked to go to the restroom, they would get all the attention of one of our awesome big kids. Therefore, what did EVERY SINGLE DANCER ask to do??? You guessed it. Whether it’s camp or a regular class, I give very little attention to my dancers who have to go to the restroom. I never stop my lesson to walk a child out to the lobby, they are responsible for shutting the studio door on their own, and I do not make a big deal when they return. My attention stays on the students in the studio and the lesson for the day.
5. Look for distractions. This is a bit random, but it is a true story so I thought I would share. I had a little one who would go to the restroom in the middle of class every single week. I pulled out all my strategies and nothing was working. Finally, the mom approached me to tell me that her daughter really didn’t need to go to the potty, she just liked the purple rug in our restroom. Guess what I removed that day?? Bottom line, don’t make your restroom fun. ;)😂
What strategies and tips do you use to avoid the potty train? I’d love to hear them!