How to Teach: Using the Bathroom (Toileting) and Handwashing

functional life skills how to teach life skills special education teachers teacher experience transition Aug 09, 2021
Importance of Teaching- Bathroom/Toileting Skills and Washing Hands
The human body needs to relieve itself multiple times throughout the day, thus toileting skills are a necessary part of anyone’s day. Since handwashing occurs most frequently after using the bathroom (as well as before preparing food, before eating, and after touching unclean or dirty things), it is important to chain the skill of handwashing skill with the skill of using the bathroom/toilet.
-Identifying the feeling in the body when it needs to use the bathroom
-Steps for going to the bathroom
-Wiping until clean
-Keeping the body private
-Steps for washing hands
-What parts of the hands to wash
-Why using soap and water is important
-How to dry hands
Why Focus On These Skills
Going to the bathroom is likely the skill that your students will use most frequently throughout their day. Proper bathroom skills increase independence and hygiene and the ability to navigate this task in community settings.
If students have the physical ability to control this bodily function, then explicitly teaching them how to go to the bathroom and wash their hands after each use is a key activity of daily living.
When To Teach
I believe that the more often a student will need to use a skill the more it should be practiced, thus the earlier in the school year it should be addressed. I would strongly consider teaching this as one of your first lessons, if not the first. For students who are proficient- great! For students who need additional support- great, you’ve got the whole school year to address it!
I’ve created a complete lesson unit of materials for teaching this topic. The materials are comprehensive (5 full lessons) and most appropriate for life skill lessons at the middle school, high school and transition level students. Below are some lesson unit highlights!
Students will identify the feelings of needing to use the bathroom in their body and the signage
for bathrooms.
Students will identify the steps to undress, use the toilet, wipe, and redress.
Students will identify how to keep privacy while using the bathroom.
Students will identify the steps to thoroughly wash their hands.
Lesson Vocabulary
Bathroom, bubbles, clean, flush, pull up, rinse, rub, soap, wash, wipe
  • Pre and Post assessment
  • 1 page narrative explaining the skill with and without visual text supports (to incorporate functional reading)
  • 5 skill practice activities to learn and/or reinforce the focus skills
  • Game for students to practice their skills (because learning is fun)
  • Boom Cards for practice or assessment
  • Student learning reflection worksheet (thumbs up or down)
  • Encouraging on-topic quotes (use as a classroom poster or starter for each class period)
  • 5 strategies for success (tips for being successful with the focus skills)
  • Coloring page with on-topic graphics
  • Skill mastery certificate for positive recognition and reinforcement
  • Data collection sheet on specific focus skills
  • Homework sheet to encourage students to practice the skill outside of the school setting
  • Word search of key vocabulary terms
  • Visuals for focus skills with age appropriate colors and graphics
Ultimate Goal
I know that independence in toileting can open doors for students when they begin to access adult programming and employment. Therefore, the ultimate goal is for the student to be as close to 100% independent in the bathroom as their body allows them to be.
The ultimate goal of handwashing is independence in QUALITY handwashing or tolerance with assistance in QUALITY handwashing!
Check Out the Curriculum

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