Did you know that 25% of students report that they do not drink ANY water as part of their daily fluid intake? Why? Because school policies are discouraging student hydration!
Many schools do not give out free bottles of water, and have few tap water dispensers around campus. And bathroom policies discourage hydration.
In my personal experience, some teachers would deduct points from students if they went to the restroom during class time; and other teachers would offer extra credit to students who refrained from using the restroom during class.
While this may be a well-meaning attempt to keep students in class, it unfortunately inhibits their water and fluid intake because students want to avoid having to use the restroom during class. (Don’t even get me started on the dangerous effects of “holding it.”)
While only some teachers employ this reward-punishment policy, one strict teacher can skew an entire day of hydration for more than a hundred students. With the brief passing periods (5 minutes) between classes — and never enough bathroom stalls —students avoid water, especially before they have “Professor No-Bathroom.”
In class, students who are hydrated often concentrate more on holding their pee than the lesson. Studies and doctors love to blame soda as the reason teens don’t drink water; in my observations that is not always the case. While soda is still an unhealthy beverage that many teens enjoy, it is not a factor in play during school hours. I have NEVER seen a student with a can of soda in class; however, I see plenty of customized hydro flasks that are not being used because of the “potty penalty.”
This issue is magnified for student athletes, who are at school all day with bathroom constraints, and then are expected to perform at their highest level after school, in the Southern California heat. This can lead to increased risk of injury, fatigue, and severe dehydration causing a student to pass out.
The most effective way for teachers to enhance learning is not to punish students for being healthy and well hydrated, but to encourage good hydration! Research shows that adequate hydration enhances learning ability, attention span, and brain activity.
Perhaps instead of offering extra credit to students who do not use the restroom, teachers could allow restroom use and even offer extra credit to students who drink 8 ounces of water during their class period.