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I noticed recently that my daughter seems to never leave her computer’s side during the school day. She’ll be in the bathroom and I can hear Google Classroom through the door. What is she doing in there? And how can I get her to step away from the screen occasionally?

Bathroom Breaks in Brooklyn

photo of Ari

Ariela Rozman

Ariela Rozman is EdNavigator’s Chief Operating Officer. She also navigates for Greater Boston families, manages remote learning for her middle school-aged kids, and serves as EdNavigator’s baker-in-chief.

Dear Bathroom Breaks,

Well, this is a new one. So it sounds to me like there’s a scheduling dilemma here: Your daughter doesn’t even have time to take a bathroom break during her remote school day, and that’s not okay. Besides using the restroom, she needs a chance to take her eyes off the screen for a few minutes, hydrate, stretch, etc. So the fact that she feels like she has to take the laptop to the toilet is a little bit concerning.

Here’s what I’d recommend: Even if you’ve already done so, check in with her about her daily remote learning schedule. Is it really jam-packed with no breaks, or is it possible that she isn’t using her break time effectively? If it’s the latter, start a conversation about time use. When she does have a break in her schedule, does she have a checklist of important things to take care of, like getting a snack and using the bathroom? Remind her to get to those things first before she uses her break time to chat with friends. To save her time, consider setting up a snack station (that’s our #2 genius parenting hack) so she doesn’t have to spend a bunch of her break making something to eat or asking you for help.

If it’s the former, it’s time to talk to her teacher about adding in a few extra breaks here and there. The teacher might feel under pressure to get through a lot of material, especially since schools feel “behind” due to closures. But I’m sure your daughter isn’t the only kid who needs a break every so often. (And seriously, the teacher probably needs one, too.)

Of course, you can also remind your daughter that if she really needs to use the bathroom in the middle of class, she should just send a quick chat message to her teacher and ask permission to go. It’s always preferable not to miss learning time for bathroom breaks, but we also need to be reasonable and realistic here.