I am pretty lenient when it comes to using the bathroom in my class. I really only restrict it when I am teaching or we are in the middle of something that a trip to the bathroom would ruin. I wasn't always like this. I used really be strict on bathroom use, until I had a class that pushed me to my breaking point. You see, this 4th grade class just wouldn't use the restroom....ever. They preferred to go right in my room. Yeah. It was lovely. I was almost at the point that I was just going to conduct class in the bathroom itself so as to avoid what was inevitably happening with 8 or so of my students (yes, I said 8...4th graders....8 of them)
And why are these fabulous for me? Well, it gives the kids the freedom to really feel like if they need to use the bathroom it is ok, but they are also not just going any old time (because they don't want to waste the money they did spend on something they don't really need to do, you know?) This also gives those kids who do need a break from the room a way to get out for a second, cool down or just give their brain a break, and come back without being questioned by me.
Using these little punchcard passes has made my life (and that of my students) SO much easier. There is no bathroom problem in my room anymore and students really feel like they can go whenever they need to. We are living in a happy world (as far as that is concerned!)
How do you manage the bathroom?