Friday, January 11, 2013

Putting the little scientists to work

I've been doing quite a bit of reading about learning styles, inquiry-based learning, and educational motivation for a proposal I wrote and it occurred to me this morning while I was scrubbing pee off the floor around the toilet for the fifteenth time this month that perhaps the reason the children have not responded to my requests to please pay attention to what they are doing when going potty is that I have been lecturing to a roomful of visual learners. Or doers.

I mean, with the exception of one embarrassing incident with Wes on a cold night in December when I became so exasperated I took his hands and showed him exactly what I meant when I said "you have to aim it into the potty!" I had never actually varied from my ineffective approach of fussing at them every time they pissed all over the floor.

Perhaps, being boys after all, they need to be presented with a problem that their natural curiosity will then drive them to seek a solution for, thereby motivating them to seek new knowledge, form new relationships, and develop a facility for scientific problem solving.

So, when they get home from school. I plan to meet them in the bathroom, a laboratory (lavatory) of sorts, an informal setting that will facilitate creativity and teamwork. After some brief introduction, I will present them with the problem statement, which is provided below, graphically for my little visual learners:

After they have had time to study the problem statement, we will gather around a whiteboard and brainstorm possible solutions. I will remind them that there are no bad ideas! Be creative! I expect responses like this:

--Go potty outside only
--Stop going potty
--You clean it up, Mom

As the brainstorming session proceeds, the ideas will naturally coalesce around more practical solutions, which they can then apply and test. My hope is that the the practical solutions they come up with are something along the lines of:

--I will face the potty when urinating
--I will ensure that urine is getting into the potty
--I will not talk to my brothers while I am going potty
--I will not attempt to drive a matchbox car on the wall while I am going potty
--I will pay attention to the task at hand (ahem) for the thirty seconds it takes to empty my bladder thus ensuring I do not whiz all over the floor
--If some pee accidentally gets on the floor, I will wipe it up with toilet paper and dispose of it properly.

The next step will be to write our testable hypothesis:

"Ho: If I pay attention, face the toilet, and do not attempt to do unrelated tasks at the same time, I can get 85% of the urine into the toilet."

Alternative hypothesis is that we will ignore all warning labels on the Comet Bleach Spray and teach the kids to clean up their own damn bathroom. Experiments will be conducted this weekend and I will summarize my results in a report sometime in 2014.


Sarah said...

I do not have high hopes for this experiment because I think boys are gross, but I really hope it works. I clean pee off 3 toilets twice a day.

A. said...

This is seriously entertaining stuff. I hope it works!

Rachel said...

Clorox wipes. Not dangerous, will at least get the cleaning started.

7th Generation even makes a version if you want to be extra-cautious.

Also, a black light flashlight (available on amazon for under $5) can make this clean up extra fun.

Chiconky said...

Good luck! For what it's worth, my one boy got much more accurate once I made him scrub the bathroom floor a couple of times.

Brooke said...

I've heard of people putting a target of some kind in the toilet (some sort of semi-permanent decal that won't flush). I've also heard of people having their boys drop a cheerio in the toilet water and them aim for that.

And I distinctly remember walking into the bathroom when my brother was little, specifically to talk to him about something (bathroom privacy was not a priority for us I guess) and as he was responding, he forgot he was peeing and turned around and dribbled all over the floor.

I'm sure we left it for my mom to clean up.

Helen said...

Potty tokens! Each time they have a successful urination event (defined as all pee in the potty, either because they put it there with the urethra or they cleaned up where they missed), they get a poker chip. Successful urination event judging is performed by somebody who is over 18 and demonstrably able to pee in the pot. When they get 10 chips, they get a reward....or they can save them, for a kind of nice reward like going to the movies.

wombat said...

I love this post. We completely lost our minds with the same exact problem. A few months ago we mandated that our 4 and 7 year old boys sit down to pee. It fixed EVERYTHING (once we were able to get them to remember the new rule). Their dad has always sat to pee because he is freakishly tall, so no emasculation issues there. Also, no lid-putting-downing issues! I plan on keeping this rule forever, or until they can do an awesome job of cleaning all 3 bathrooms, so, I guess that really does mean forever.

sarah said...

I'm so glad your boys pee all over the bathroom--it makes for FANTASTIC blog posts. :-)

I love the initial solutions of "stop going potty, go potty outside, mommy cleans it up." That is what I'd hear in my house, too. At least I'm only cleaning up the pee of one child, so I guess that's my bright side of it.

Jenny said...

I have been a long-time lurker and thoroughly enjoy your writing. This post had me in TEARS I was laughing so hard. As a mom with new identical twin boys, I am sure there is much urine to clean in the future. Thanks for your sense of humor!