Dear Principal Lisa,
I have chosen to send my three-year-old boy to big school this September. I decided to choose school and not nursery for FS1 as I honestly felt sure I could help my son be fully toilet trained like the school requested by August. I am getting worried, one reason is I’m not sure what they mean by being fully toilet trained as he still has some accidents and wears a diaper at night, is that ok?
My son has done really well over the summer, but he is still so young and I don’t think he can go to the toilet on his own, wipe himself etc.
I’ve heard of schools calling parents to collect their child if they have accidents and I am a working Mum so I won’t be able to do that. Should I say anything to the school about my concerns? How can I prepare him? I know there is only a few days left before his first induction day? Did I make the wrong choice should I have kept him in nursery?
Thanks for all you do for the parents in Dubai
Nadia, Mum to two boys aged 1 and 3 years.
Thanks so much for getting in touch, it is my pleasure to take this time to try to reassure you. I can hear through your letter that you are maybe feeling worried and I think the fears and feelings you have are understandable. You love your little boy.
Moving to big school is a life transition and here in the UAE we have a choice between a nursery or a school for our child now up until the age of 6. There will be many children who are best suited to a smaller setting such as a nursery with a higher ratio of staff that care for basic needs at age three, However, there will also be many children who are ready to move on to a new challenge.
In schools when they state “Fully Toilet Trained” it is mostly due to staffing ratios in my experience and the fact that they are not a day care facility. There are now Early Childhood Centres which offer an amalgamation of both and cater for children up to age 6 if you need extended days as a working Mum. Settings focussed on additional needs will be able to cater for children who are pre-continent.
Let’s look at what many mainstream schools will be looking for with toileting skills:
A child who can ask to go to the toilet when they feel a sensation or urge
A child who understands toileting sensations and attributes some language or practical action to the feeling. This may mean they simply take themselves to the toilet at the back of the classroom.
A child who can pull down their clothing and sit down independently on the toilet
A child who can pass urine or a bowel movement without too much distress or need for support
A child who can wipe themselves, they may not do it effectively, but they can manage it to some degree. A child may use a water spray also.
A child who is not withholding urine or a bowel movement as during a busy school day of meals, activities, and lessons it’s hard to hold on as they may do at home and accidents can happen.
Schools may feel big and scary, but they are filled with wonderful people whose passion is helping small children, they will expect an accident or two as the child may feel unsure for the first few days.
However, as the weeks go by, it is my experience that schools will expect to see significant progress as the class needs to move forward, and the teachers can not be stuck in the bathroom. Despite their best intentions they will need a solution.
It is true that schools may have to ask you to come and help with accidents if it continues, it’s possible the school may ask you to work with me and we then work together. Last year I worked with lots of schools to help families improve toileting skills. I feel its important to bring things out into the open if there are challenges.
I think it’s vital that parents talk to their doctor alongside an expert like me if there are issues like constipation or soiling. These problems rarely go away on their own. I think its important to be in open communication with your child’s school so they can support you and your child.
I sure you made an excellent choice in school, I’m sure you spent a long time considering your options. Lead now with confidence that you made a great choice. Children can potentially sense our hesitation.
In these last few days before school starts, reinforce the things your son is getting right, build in routines with meals and sleep as this will help to predict when he needs the toilet. Read potty books, watch potty shows to increase awareness, be specific in what he can expect. I think it’s a great idea to arrive early on the first day and familiarize yourself with the class toilet and try for a quick pee there before the other children arrive. Talk to your child’s teacher about it. Its best out in the open.
This is my speciality as The Potty Queen, I’m here to help if you need me.
With love and the warmest of wishes for the academic year ahead