Potty training: Necessary for kindergarten?

My son is five years old and he is supposed to start kindergarten. Unfortunately, he is not fully potty trained. My husband and I have tried everything, but he still has trouble with his bowel movements. We are seeking professional help, but we are worried that his problem may not be solved by the time school starts. Can my son still attend school if he isn't potty trained?

Question:

The circumstances in this case are quite extraordinary. It is rare that a child enters kindergarten without independent toilet skills, although children may still need to be reminded to close the door, flush or wash their hands afterwards.

I am glad to hear that you are getting some professional intervention. It is likely that there is a physical or psychological reason for this difficulty and the appropriate professionals should be consulted. If at all possible, try to see these individuals prior to the start of the school year so that you have some idea of the true nature of your son's difficulty. It is probable that the problem will not be resolved prior to the beginning of the school year, but at least you can get a handle on why this is a problem and what can be done to correct it.

You will need to go to the school that your child will attend and talk directly to the teacher and/or principal about your child's situation. In the case of public schools, I don't believe that they can turn him away, especially if there is a physical or psychological basis for the problem.

It might be a good idea to bring some kind of documentation from the doctor and/or therapist indicating that your son is receiving treatment for this condition and recommendations for how the staff can help him while he is at school. The teacher may ask you to come with your child to school so that you can assist him when necessary. Of course, I don't know exactly how the school will react to your son's situation, but I imagine that they will try to work with you to meet your child's needs.

You need to consider the question of whether he should even go to school. While education is necessary and important for him, you need to look at alternatives to traditional public schooling. There are several options to consider. In addition to public schools, there are private schools who may admit your child. However, private schools are not required to admit every child who applies for entrance. There is also the option of homeschooling, which will give your child the educational stimulation that he needs without the potential embarrassment he may experience in a standard classroom situation. Peer pressure, for a child who doesn't use the potty, may be harder to handle than the academic demands of school work.

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