Do You Know What Your School Requires?

One of the first things we need to explore is what preschools actually require of your child when it comes to potty training. To quell any confusion and doubts, you need to ask your preschool specifically what the requirements are for potty training and how willing they are to help support your child in using the bathroom.

A lot of preschools have very different requirements and formats. For example, some programs are more daycare-oriented where they know they will be helping you with more of the basic care of your child. These programs often take younger children as well and are more comfortable with supporting potty learning that is happening in the home. Other programs are definitely more learning-oriented, where their primary focus is to educate. These programs tend to take children by age 3 and up, and have more firm requirements on potty mastery.

Please bear in mind: no preschool wants to be the primary leader of your child’s potty training experience. That needs to happen in the home by you the parent. And for good reason: you know your kid best, you are aware of their physical and emotional boundaries, and you should be the person they are most comfortable with when it comes to learning this big, rather intimate milestone.

If your child is in a true preschool program, at the very least you will want your child to be comfortable using the potty for the hours they are in school. Does that mean they have to master nighttime potty training by preschool? Nope.

Talk to your preschool.

The only way to know what is actually required of you and your child when it comes to potty training is to talk to your teachers and your school director. Of course, your goal here is to not get out of potty training your child if the school is more relaxed. Indeed, children benefit from having potty learning under their belt by preschool.

Here are some questions you may want to ask your program:

  • What is the daily routine?
  • How does potty going work at school?
  • What potty supplies for the school or my child can I bring (if any)?
  • Can my child and I take a tour of the classroom?

Preparing your kid and you

Talk to your child.

Once you identify what the requirements are of your school it's time to get prepared because yes - your child needs to be potty trained (at least to a certain extent). Perhaps you have already been doing this, but you need to talk to your child about why they need to get rid of diapers. You can use scripts such as saying “ preschool is so much fun and there won’t be time for diapers,”  or “you and your playmates are going to have so much fun using the special bathroom in your classroom.”

Explore the classroom.

The next best way to prepare is to actually explore the classroom itself. We highly recommend touring the classroom with your child before the first day of school. This visit can be especially powerful for kids who have yet to master the potty because they can get excited about all of the toys and fun ahead. And, it can also give you both a sense of how near the bathroom is and if it is designed solely for children (low potties, stepstools, etc.).

Get the routine down.

Furthermore, learning what the daily routine is in the school can be tremendously helpful for potty training parents. If you know the daily routine, you can start to use that at home as well and use potty breaks at certain points so your child gets used to using the potty at specific intervals in between activities, snacks, and playtime.

Pack your backpack.

Another way to get prepared for the first day of school is to pack extra supplies in your backpack. Most preschools know that accidents will happen at some point, so here are some things you will want to include in your child's backpack to make accidents easier on your teacher and your child:

  • A full change of clothes
  • An additional pair of pants and underwear
  • Flushable wipes
  • Plastic bag for soiled clothes
  • Disposable gloves

Using the Deadline Method for Potty Training

There are a few different methods you can use for potty training. And, if you have a few months before school starts, you can be a little more relaxed and follow your child's lead in the slow and steady method. But, if you're trying to get your child potty trained by preschool and the first day of school is looming, you'll likely need to use the deadline method. The deadline method is just as it sounds: you have a deadline where you need your child to be mostly potty trained so you have to get there.

As you may imagine, the closer the deadline, the more intense your focus will need to be on potty training. For example, parents who have yet to get their child potty trained by late summer will likely need to use the three-day method to get rid of diapers completely.

A little bit about the 3-day method

The three-day method is used by parents who want to intensely focus on potty training their child over a short amount of time. Usually, parents use a long weekend where they let go of diapers entirely. By doing so, the child is forced to use the potty or soil themselves. Often, parents let their child go nude so they are fully aware when they are peeing or pooping. As you can imagine, your role as the parent will be to give them regular reminders to use the potty and help them gain confidence in knowing their bladder and bowel needs.

Having a looming deadline can be pretty stressful on both the parents and child, but if you have a good sense of humor and you both have a clear-cut goal such as being potty trained by the first day of school, it can make it a little bit easier. And don’t hesitate to put up a fun sticker calendar or give them little rewards to help them get excited about their progress and the first day of preschool.

Fortunately, the three-day method can be pretty nice for preschool potty training parents because most parents start preschool in the fall and they can take advantage of the summer weather and let their child go nude outside and inside the home.