I found this on Pinterest over the summer, and followed the link on over to Third Grade Thoughts where I found the best idea ever! I believe that, just like adults, children have the right to use the bathroom whenever they need to. Over the years, I have watched teachers struggle to get their students onto a bathroom schedule by only letting them go during certain times of the day, and this never seemed quite right to me. My goal was to let students use the restroom when they needed to, but without having to interrupt the class, and distract from teaching and learning. I have tried several different methods, but this has been the best. I took two 8 ounce hand sanitizer bottles and labeled one "Girl's Bathroom Pass" and the other "Boy's Bathroom Pass." When a student needs to use the restroom, they get the bottle off my desk (as long as I'm not explicitly teaching at the front of the room), show it to me, and I shake my head "yes" or "no." If the bottle is already gone, they have to wait for whoever is using it to come back.
If they get the green light, they place the bottle on their desk and go. This allows me to see at a glance who is gone, and where they are. When they return, they use the sanitizer (because we all know how well second graders wash their hands!), and return the bottle to my desk.
I had one student try to abuse the privilege, but as soon as I warned him that he would lose his privilege if he continued, he stopped. We have been using this system for almost three weeks now and it has been working fabulously. Thank you Third Grade Thoughts!
Oh - one word of caution; when you first implement this type of system, kids will abuse it for the first couple of days (I think they can't believe it's true, so they test it out), but they will calm down after a few days and only use it as needed. So, be patient for a day or two.