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Blog | | San Diego Unified, TKCalifornia, Santa Clara Unified

TK Expansion in Action: School Districts Develop Strategies to Support TK Children and Families in Potty Training

Our TK Expansion in Action blog series covers California’s Transitional Kindergarten (TK) expansion through interviews with school districts and institutes of higher learning across the state to highlight strategies they have employed to make expansion successful. This is the ninth blog in the series which has been running since the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.

As Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) across the state continue to expand Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to all 4-year-olds, districts, school staff, and teachers are learning how to best support younger children in new environments. One area many schools are currently focused on is supporting younger TK children who may not be completely potty-trained yet. This effort also includes supporting teachers who are providing toileting support. School districts across the state are working to ensure that the needs of the children are met, while also supporting teachers navigating new circumstances in their classrooms.

Some school districts, such as San Diego Unified and Santa Clara Unified have developed strategies and professional development, and in some cases have even created toileting guidebooks for their educators and staff. 

Some of the best practices in supporting toileting and potty training include:

  • Asking families at the time of enrollment and including questions on enrollment forms about the child’s potty training status. This helps schools identify which children may need additional support in advance and give teachers the ability to plan and coordinate the development of a support plan in advance with families. As many school districts begin enrollment early the spring before school starts, it is also recommended that schools follow up with the families that identified toileting as a need as the child’s potty training status may change closer to the beginning of the school year.
  • Meeting with parents and guardians to discuss a support plan and how the school and family can work together to help the child transition, and working with school health technicians and classroom staff to support the development and implementation of the plan. This provides an opportunity for teachers, staff, and families to better understand the routines and/or challenges the child is facing and how to develop strategies to best support the child both at home and school. 
  • Planning professional development sessions that help teachers design their instructional days to encourage students to use the bathroom with scheduled bathroom breaks and frequent reminders throughout the day. Simple reminders such as asking children if they need to use the bathroom and ensuring that the activity they are involved in will still be there when they return goes a long way in supporting children who are in the process of becoming, or are recently, potty trained.
  • Asking families to bring an extra set of clothes to have at school in case of an accident or having a supply of extra clothes at the school site for children to borrow if needed. It’s good to be prepared for accidents and having an extra set of clothing on hand will help ensure children can go back into the classroom with minimal disruption.

Incorporating these practices into schools and classrooms routines is helping staff and teachers better understand the needs of families to better support some of our youngest learners and ensure they have the best experience possible in TK.

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