November 24, 2009
First name of Teacher here,
I wanted to take a moment and ask for some clarification regarding the policy around water bottles and bathroom use in your classroom.
Yesterday, Emily arrived home complaining of a sore throat. My first thought is that she was dehydrated and needed to drink some water. I asked her if she had been using her water bottle during the day, as she knows that I like her to drink water through the day – especially during the fall and winter.
Emily shared that she was not allowed to bring her water bottle to class, nor drink anything in class. She reported that she had to keep the water bottle in her locker and could get a drink between classes/recess. Furthermore, she told me that the children were no longer able to use the bathroom during class time, except for “emergencies” when they needed to seek a teacher’s permission to do so.
It is my hope that Emily has mis-understood or mis-stated these “rules”. As I am sure you can appreciate, I would prefer Emily to have access to water whenever she is thirsty. Furthermore, I prefer her to use her water bottle rather than use a common water fountain due to potential transmission of a wide variety of viruses and bacteria.
As to the bathroom access, I appreciate that it can be tempting for children to wander the halls during classtime. However, it alarms me that any child would feel hesitant to use the bathroom as needed during the day. As each child has a different body rhythm and needs, it is surely hard to predict what each child’s possible toileting needs would be during any given day.
I was fortunate to see Howard Gardner speak about fifteen years ago. During his lecture, he shared that he looked at the policies each school had around controlling children’s bodily functions , ie. Eating, bathroom functions, drinking. He noted that in his experiences, only two types of places attempted to regulate the how and when of human bodily needs. One was schools. The other was prisons. That statement deeply impacted me as an educator.
I reviewed the school handbook and saw no mention of these policies or rules. Again, I am hoping that this was simply a misunderstanding on the part of Emily and appreciate your clarification on this matter.