Water, Water Everywhere (Including at the School Desk)

Hi Readers! This note from a teacher interested me so much — and not just because I really hate  bottled water. (Always have. It’s a waste of plastic, and a waste of fuel, in that it gets transported from Fiji or wherever, by boat and truck. And in a country with clean tap water, it’s a waste of money! Especially because so many brands, including Dasani and Aquafina, are just re-filtered tap water anyway!)

But anyway — the letter interests me not just because it has to do with over-coddling, but also because of insidious  privatizing: The triumph of bottled water over public drinking fountains. When we start to shun public resources in favor of “better” private ones,  we start to break down something bigger: The idea that we should work (and pay) to make things better for the whole community, not just our own precious progeny. It reminds me of the way book stores have taken the place of libraries in some places, because they’re open longer, have more books, and serve lattes. And yet,  libraries are much more important, because they provide a world of learning, free,  to everyone.

Okay — that’s a long intro to a short letter, and slightly off-topic, at that.  So here goes! –L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: In the last year I have noticed something that I wanted to share with you, thinking, maybe, you could confirm my thought that the world, and parents, are going mad.  Or maybe I’m crazy?  During the school day the children are given frequent opportunities to get a drink of water. But, afraid that their kids might still not get enough, a lot of parents give their children water bottles to have at their desks.  This year I have gotten multiple requests from parents to remind their children to drink water throughout the day.

Have I lost it completely in thinking that learning to drink when you’re thirsty is one of the key parts of growing up into a functioning adult human?  While water is obviously important, it doesn’t seem to kill kids to be without for a couple hours.  A shocking number of parents act like it’s insulin for their diabetic children.

Maybe it would just be best to hook all kids up to fluid drips to make sure they are always fully hydrated?  Am I crazy? — A Teacher

Dear Teach — I don’t think you’re crazy. I agree: Once again we have “dangerized” a little thirst and turned it into a health problem that must be immediately addressed. And once again we are thinking of our children as less safe, less resilient and less smart (they have to be TOLD to drink?) than any generation before them.  — L.

Back when hobbies did not include "Staying Hydrated."

177 Responses

  1. This started when I was in school to become a teacher. Some study came out that said that kids learn up to 10% better when they’re well hydrated. If you google “hydration and learning” you’ll come up with bunches of articles, but I can’t find the original study (from the late 90s/early 00s).

    Interestingly, if you google “hydration and education” you get a lot of info from bottled water companies. Hmmmm…

    Still, by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. I see no harm in schools using reusable water bottles (to minimize waste) that are filled up in a sink or at a drinking fountain, provided that the reusable bottles are sent home for cleaning every couple days. It certainly minimizes the disruption of children asking permission to go get a drink throughout the day. Much educational time is wasted – in lining up to go to a new area, lining up to go to the restroom, lining up to go get a drink, etc. – anything that cuts down on that wasted time is good.

    Also, children who ask to go get a drink (from a hallway fountain) during the day are unsupervised, and that can lead to shenanigans.

    I only hope that they’ve increased the number of restroom breaks for these kids who are sipping all day, or they’re going to see an increase in UTIs, bladder, and kidney infections from kids “holding it” all day!

  2. Eeh, there’s major research out there that says that brains work better when the child is hydrated and it’s much easier for kids to drink the correct amount of water when they have a refillable bottle of water at their desk. I don’t know how you could even drink a full eight oz at a drinking fountain with someone behind you telling you to hurry up. I always remember being told that I could only drink till the count of three and then I had to be done.

  3. Makes sense in certain parts of Australia. Those non-air-conditioned classrooms, especially the demountables, get HOT!

    Went to a patient in one once, I felt sorry for those poor kids forced to endure it every day.

    Having said that, I grew up in a colder climate, and drinking constantly would have been superfluous to the average child’s needs.

  4. My district has a policy that you cannot have water bottles in class without the nurses approval.

    How dehydrated must a child be for the learning to be diminished? I hate to sound like my parents but we all grew up fine with the water from the fountains and what we had at lunch to sustain us. And my kids are honor roll without them. It just seems to be one more thing that the teachers are becoming responsible for and a huge distraction in the classrooms.

    Baby-paramedic – towards the end of the school year if the class is very hot the kids can have water. There’s not a whole lot of learning going on anyway.

  5. I’m on Lenore’s side with this one. I disagree that our children are so brittle that they need water at the ready throughout the whole day. Yes, thirst is a sign of dehydration, but *mild* dehydration, not falling-down-call-the-ambulance dehydration.

    I’m willing to bet that many, MANY, well-educated people managed to stay in school and learn their lessons, maybe even through post-graduate work!, without having a water bottle at their desk,, despite the water-education link. And I would also bet that the revolving door of bathroom visits due to excessive water consumption interferes with education more than a little thirst.

  6. My response to “remind widdle Octavia to drink her Fiji water every 20 minutes” would be: Um, no. No, I have a classroom of children to actually *teach* and can not possibly keep track of which child is drinking how much water at what intervals. Nor do I care. If your little princess is thirsty, she will drink. I’m certainly not going to insist that she drinks otherwise, because too much water is toxic and can, in rare cases, lead to coma and even death and such an event would doubtlessly land me in the slammer, even if it was done at your direct command. Perhaps you could install some sort of camera in her desk and monitor herself yourself? And then send her text messages every few minutes with instructions about her hydration level. We certainly wouldn’t want her learning to trust her own instincts on something this crucial!

    And… then I would be fired. I honestly can’t imagine becoming a teacher these days. Between the low pay and the liability issues and dealing with modern parents, I’d last about a week.

  7. The water bottle seems ubiquitous beyond the class room, as well. A few people now leave them at home in the wake of reports that drinking too much water is unhealthy.

    An example:

    Don’t drink too much water: Study

    http://www.healthlibrary.com/news1085.htm

    Ah, the apparent whims of science. (IMO, science is not at fault as much as poor science reporting, where headlines and overly simplified explanations can make such swings in behavior more likely. As noted above, water bottle marketers likely did a good portion of the work, too.)

    That said, when I’m out with my four-year-old, I do have a water bottle at all times (a reusable bottle filled from the tap). When he’s thirsty, he asks for it. That is, if there is no water fountain around. He does prefer water fountains, and, in fact, he likely drinks from them even when he is not thirsty. He does not want to leave a water fountain unused.

  8. If the kids are old enough to be using the “potty” without being reminded – they are surely old enough to drink when they are thirsty. The last thing that we need is MORE plastic bottles going to landfills every year.

    BTW – One of my kids still needed to be reminded to use the bathroom during his kindergarten year – and even he could drink when he was thirsty.

    Empower your kids, people!

  9. Here in UK it has the norm for several years for children to have water available throughout the school day. An initiative was started supported by the various water companies. As stated above it was believed that hydrated children work better.
    In some schools children were allowed the bottles freely available on their desks and in others they were kept in a shared area and could only be used at given times.
    In my experience the children who had them freely available sucked them continually as if they had babies bottles or spilt water over their work. None of them ever took the bottle home to wash so they frequently had old water in them. In some schools TAs emptied them at the end of the day and washed them out. In some the children were meant to bring them each morning filled with fresh water. I honestly don’t think they worked much better from having them. However since I have been drinking more water each day I have had less frequent headaches. So I am sure there is some benefit.
    Most children find any excuse for bathroom breaks especially if it is a lesson they don’t like!

  10. Ha, this is hilarious! Yes, I somehow was never reminded to drink water as a child, yet I somehow grew into a fully hydrated and functioning adult. Thanks for the post, made me smile!

  11. This is, as far as I’m concerned, a major problem with schools in general: they even try to regulate one’s bodily functions, with kids having to ask permission to get a drink or go to the bathroom. (To be fair, not all schools do this. My own children’s elementary school had both drinking fountains and bathrooms in each room, and some of the teachers allowed the kids to use them as they pleased.)

    I have mixed feelings about bottled water. Because I don’t like soda, I was often dehydrated myself at various organizational get-togethers, until bottled water became popular in addition to soda. On the other hand, I’m from a state whose endangered water supply is being diminished for the purpose, so I admit to sometimes resenting those who drink bottled water at home. (Though I fail to see how that’s any worse than diminishing the water supply to make soda.) Me? I like to have a water bottle handy, but it’s filled with tap water.

    But why is kids drinking water in school something to complain about, no matter how they do it? They DO need to drink more water — and less soda, fruit juices, and flavored milk, which are often featured in schools.

  12. if they’re reusable bottles refilled from the tap then the plastic bottles/landfill issue goes away.
    Honestly..I have a water bottle on my desk at work, and I love having it there! My kid has a water bottle in his lunchbox (no juice boxes for him!) so I guess he could keep it at his desk if he wanted. I’m not sure which is more annoying, having water at the desk or having to raise your hand to get water. When I was volunteering in my kid’s 2nd grade class, I was astounded at how many kids were constantly raising their hands to get a drink or go to the bathroom. If you could cut some of those out it seems like it would be a good thing.
    anyway. Totally agree about bottled water but having water in the classroom doesn’t seem totally crazy. I don’t really get the “we got through life without it” argument. Well, sure, but I wouldn’t want my kid to not have air conditioning at school just b/c I didn’t. That just seems silly. It was horrible and hot.

  13. The requests from parents to the teacher to remind the kids to drink is over the top. Having a water bottle to have a drink from whenever a child is thirsty makes sense though and as long as the kids weren’t abusing them, I’d allow it. Earning the privilege to have your water bottle means being able to take it away if there are constant spills or other irresponsible behaviour.

  14. Yes!!! Both of my girls (1st and 3rd grades) went through a phase a couple of months ago where they wanted to bring a water bottle to school every day because other kids were. They were responsible for getting it ready themselves, so they eventually lost interest and have managed to survive.

    I think our kids think they can’t survive any physical exertion without a water bottle, no matter the weather.

    They can’t play a sport without getting a snack afterwards.

    They can’t take the state standardized test without snacks and water offered throughout- my daughter’s class made “trail mix” to prepare for the tests.

    They need ice on any bump, bruise, scrape, or even bug bite! That’s fine if it helps the kids calm down when they are hurt, but I have parents offer ice to my kids after my kids are back playing and it is for injuries that ice would not even help. You really don’t need to put ice on a skinned knee!!!

    I constantly have the uncomfortable situation of parents who bring snacks everywhere. We meet another family at the playground (literally a two minute walk from the house) and the other mom has prepared snacks. Of course my kids want to eat them when offered, leaving me feel bad and wondering if I should bring snacks next time. Then I think, “My kids don’t need a snack when they are going to play on the playground for an hour!” If they are on the brink of starvation, they can walk home and get themselves something to eat.

  15. My mother fell victim of the “we need to drink more water” generation….She continuously drinks water, more than a gallon a day. To the point where her Dr actually told her that she needs to stop drinking that much as her electrolyte level in her body is too low. However, she cannot stop. She panics now when there is no water around, when there is no water fountain to be drunk from (she never walks by one without having a sip)…

    When I was younger she continuously bothered me to drink more. But I am one of those that is hardly ever thirsty, and probably could drink more. However, I do not usually run around with a water bottle. And I drink maybe a 5th of what my mother drinks…

    Here is my point. Do not micromange the water consumption of your kids too much. Do not request your kid’s teachers to do so. They know when they get thirsty. It is just not such a big deal as long as water is available.

    I do not like bottled waters too much, so I bought reusable ones that I wash on a daily basis. As any other dish/ glass that is used. Very often these bottles get returned by the end of the day, and are still full. On hot summer days they are not, so I assume the kids were more thirsty than usual. Which is how it is supposed to be. I do not think twice about it.

    All I care about is that I did my best having the resources available to quench thirst if there. Anything else is something that will fall into its place anyways. No need to establish right/wrong rules for drinking water. Or to make it a school policy of any kind.

  16. Oh yes, Susan. I am bothered by those snack bringers myself. Why do kids these days constantly need to snack or eat?

  17. Wow, schools now allow kids to have drinks at their desks? To me this is just unheard of. We were NEVER allowed to have any food or drink except at lunch time. It’s a distraction to learning.

    Having ready bottles of water at the desk just makes me think there will be that many more needed trips to the bathroom to disrupt the day.

    Man, how did we all survive back in the day? Heck, even in college most of my professors forbid bottles of water/soda in class…they are a distraction and/or could spill we were told. No eating either, take that to the cafeteria or the student union.

    As for the bottled water/tap water debate. We mostly drink tap water. If we’re home that’s what we drink (although the kids get their water from the filtered fridge because it’s easier for them to reach). If we are out and need water I buy a couple bottles but I prefer the kind that is just filtered tap water and the kids usually reuse the bottles a few times before I get sick of finding them laying around and toss them in the recycling.

    There was only one time that I relied on bottled water for drinking. We were living in PA and the tap water there, although safe to drink, was making me really sick. So I bought regular old drinking water from wal-mart (in the big 3 gallon jugs) for myself. No one else got sick from the tap water so they kept drinking it. If we were in another town or area that had better water I’d fill up all our empty water bottles (we always had a bunch in the car) at a water fountain or bathroom sink to stock up, lol.

  18. Heh. When I was in school it was a hassle to get to drink water. The fountain was out in the hall, you needed a pass, and if the teacher didn’t want to give you one you were SOL. Water bottles were only allowed on days when it was over 80

  19. Hm. Our elementary schools ask the kids to bring their own bottle to keep in their desk. The bathrooms are out in the hallways, though. I don’t think it’s been a terrible distraction, and there is a water fountain in their common areas (there are usually six classrooms surrounding a common “hard area” where sinks and storage cupboards are kept.) But designating drinking times? Puleeze.

  20. Heh. When I was in school it was a hassle to get to drink water. The fountain was out in the hall, you needed a pass, and if the teacher didn’t want to give you one you were SOL. Water bottles were only allowed on days when it was over 80 in our unconditioned school. Oh, and I’m only 26, so this change has to be rather recent.

  21. My son has started taking a refillable water bottle to school the last two weeks. But that’s only because his classroom is on the second floor, south side of an un-air conditioned building and it gets oppressively HOT.

    But October through Mid-May? There was not reason for it. He could survive just fine from the water fountain and his drink at lunch.

  22. At my kids’ Montessori school each kid has a mug of their own, kept on a shelf in the classroom, and when they are thirsty they can go and get a drink from the water cooler in the classroom (filtered tap water). They aren’t reminded to have a drink (except if it’s very hot and they’ve been outside) but they are free to do so when they choose. It’s part of the Montessori philosophy to let the children be responsible for themselves. But they can’t keep water near their work. So I’m all for letting children have a drink when they need it, without having to leave the class and wonder down the hallway to the fountain, but definitely don’t think plastic bottles need to come into it, nor does water need to come near desks, nor should the teacher have to do any reminding.

  23. You’ve got such bad media timing, given the school that just closed for a day because of bad water in the fountains :P (AKA “an aberration”. NYC water is considered among the best in the world.)

    When I was a kid, the odds of getting a pass to get some water were slim… and leaving the class to get water was probably more disruptive than simply taking a water bottle from your desk.

    If you DID leave, the water pressure was so low you likely couldn’t get any water anyway.

    Given how many reusable water bottles are on the market nowadays, you don’t know that these kids are only using bought water.

    However, asking the teacher to remind them to drink water is asinine.

    It’s like the grandmother I overheard picking up her first grader grandkid at my niece’s school. When she saw that the shoelaces were untied, she asked “Didn’t your teacher tie them?” and, upon hearing the “no” (I mean, duh, obviously they were untied) went “Unbelievable”.

    I didn’t learn to tie my shoes until I was in my double digits (yes, very late, let’s move on), but nobody expected the teacher to tie them – and unlike these kids, I didn’t have the option of velcro, either. Does this woman really think the teacher’s day should be spent tying 24 pairs of shoes, over and over again?

  24. I agree with the points you made, but must point out that here in Mississippi it is frequently 100 degrees when our kids start school in early August and stays above 90 during the day until around sometime in October. I sent all three of my kids to school every day with a refillable water bottle (we don’t buy bottled water anymore except for very rare occasions when we can’t use our refillable ones). Once the weather cooled they quit taking them.

    Last year, the school purchased refillable water bottles for every student to keep at their desks.

    I happen to be someone who drinks a lot of water and almost always has a 32oz refillable bottle with me when I leave the house, so I don’t necessarily think encouraging water drinking is bad. It’s much better than a lot of others things kids would like to drink.

  25. Some of the responses are interesting. I went to parts of grade school and middle school in the desert in Arizona. They start school in mid-August. Somehow we all survived without any water bottles! It must have been a miracle!

  26. Gotta disagree. I see no reason why a kid shouldn’t be allowed to bring a water bottle to school and leave it on his or her desk for when he or she decides a drink of water would be appropriate. Of course, the teacher shouldn’t have to remind the child to drink the water, but if the child wants it, fine. Not a problem. Better than disturbing the class to go to the water fountain. I remember when I was in elementary school back in the ’70’s, we’d always be raising our hands asking to go to the fountain to get a drink. Now that disruption can be eliminated if the kid brings in his or her own water.

  27. I do agree that bottled water is a waste of money, however. My son brings in a waster bottle that we’ve had for years, filled with tap water from our house. I buy bottled stuff when we’re out, it’s hot, and we have no other choice.

  28. My son’s preschool teacher in AZ used to call them adult baby bottles. She’d constantly marvel that we were able to survive until the 1990’s in Phoenix without them.

  29. I think it has to do with “experts” saying we should all be drinking at least 8 glasses of water everyday. We should, but we all don’t. I personally like to keep hydrated, especially during the summer season. But really, if I’m not thirsty, I’m not going to force myself to drink. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving children bottled water to school, or the park, or anywhere else. As long as it’s done for convenience, rather than the fear of not getting the recommended amount of water, as suggested by the “experts”. It’s all about the reasoning and rational of individuals.

    Also, I don’t do bottled water from the store. I have a stainless steel water bottle, and fill it up with Brita filtered tap water. Nothing wrong with regular tap water, but I can taste the difference between straight tap water and water from my Brita pitcher. Brita just tastes better. ;-)

  30. My older son’s school has a version of this, only with them it’s snacks. Fun story. The other day after school my son wanted to go mooch some snacks off some friends and my wife said loud enough for other parents to hear “You have snacks 20 times a day in school. You can wait 30 min to have another.” I love her.

  31. We attended a homeschool coop once where the moms all thought their children couldn’t go more than an hour without a drink or a snack. They thought that I was the mean one because I refused to let my kids eat or drink juice 3-4 times during the day. I had to find another coop.

    I went to school in Texas and we survived summers without water bottles. When I was thirsty, I raised my hand and went to the water fountain. I also made it a regular stop between classes. I don’t remember anyone ever having a problem.

  32. “I constantly have the uncomfortable situation of parents who bring snacks everywhere. We meet another family at the playground (literally a two minute walk from the house) and the other mom has prepared snacks.”

    This annoys me so much. Why are we teaching our children that they need to eat all day long? I am a freak among the other parents I know — I don’t believe in snacks. In fact, I strongly suspect that it’s non-stop snacking that has led to so many overweight kids. I also suspect that it’s a competitive thing with some of the mothers I know — see, I’m PREPARED for this hour-long foray into the unknown! Just look at how prepared and organized I am! I wouldn’t DREAM of leaving the house without a bag packed with snacks and juice boxes and folding chairs and emergency medical supplies and a backup generator… you don’t bring anything? But you just never know…

  33. The teacher actually sends home letters requesting we send in water bottles for the kids. I send in an aluminum one with tap water – and don’t mind it for two reasons: 1) I’ve been in the classroom. The teacher is right – it is HOT – they’ve actually been spending a good part of the time outside this week due to the heat. 2) Saves my daughter walking up and down to the bubbler all day – she can sit and read to her heart’s content in her spare time. That way when she gets home she is raring to go outside and not sit and read.

    I have no problems with water fountains. However, I’ve found it’s become very non-PC to use them. One day, I was holding it at the library so my son could get a drink, and this mother goes by. Her son asks for a drink and she looks at him and states loudly enough so I can hear “I am a medical professional (she’s a dental hygienist) , and I would NEVER let my child drink from anything so disgusting as a water fountain.” She then stormed out, and me and the librarian just looked at each other and started laughing….

  34. I don’t have a problem with kids drinking water. In fact, it is a better habit to encourage than drinking soda-pop.

    I let students carry reusable bottles filled with tap water to the classroom and drink it whenever they want. I DO NOT allow disposable plastic bottles unless the bottle is consistently reused (I make the kids put a distinguishing mark on it so I can tell). I also don’t let them leave class to go get a drink from the fountain as I’d rather have them in class.

    Plus, living in Portland, Oregon, we have the best water on Earth…why pay a buck for tap water in a plastic bottle from who knows where.

  35. Lenore and everyone else: I absolutely agree that bottled water is stupid. However, I still can’t bring myself to drink tap water! I know that I must be brainwashed, because I’m fully aware that bottled water is not more pure and healthy than tap water. Plus, I am usually a person who shuns expensive things in favor of free things (my number one motivation for breastfeeding!) But when I fill a cup from the kitchen sink, my mind still says, “Ew, gross!”

    I also wanted to say that too many people still believe the lie about needing 8 glasses of water a day (which some people interpreted as 8 BOTTLES of water a day!) Nobody except for those running a marathon is thirsty for that much water. So people started to believe that you need to be constantly forcing yourself to drink water that you don’t want. So naturally, they are forcing their kids to do the same.

  36. The 8 glasses of water per day thing seems to be a myth anyway. (Check it out on Snopes, and I’ve read the same from other reliable sources recently.) Generally if you drink when you’re thirsty, you’re fine.

    I don’t see a problem with kids having water available at their desks — might as well settle in and be comfortable — as long as they aren’t disruptive about it. But yeah, it should not be the teacher’s job to remind them to drink.

  37. I’m in agreement with Kim’s first post – what’s the big deal with a kid keeping a water bottle at his desk? No, by all means the teacher shouldn’t have to remind the kids to drink, I don’t think my kids drink enough water at school, and no, I’ve never bought into the whole uber-hydrated craze, I just base it on certain physical symptoms.

    But I am in complete disagreement with the whole anti-bottled water thing, if I want to pay for great tasting unflouridated water from Fiji, good for me. I would greatly prefer if the government wasn’t in the business of stealing my money to dump poisonous industrial waste (flouride) in the water supply. Water doesn’t have to be a public resource, and would probably be a lot cleaner if it wasn’t “resourced” by governments.

    Same for libraries, by the way. Nothing “breaks down” when government gets out of the way. In fact, things improve when people can make their own choices about how they spend their money.

  38. Personally, I think it’s completely ridiculous for kids to have water bottles at the ready at their desks at all times. As a child, I could actually go from breakfast to lunch and then lunch to 3 or so all WITHOUT drinking anything. I was never taken to the hospital for dehydration. I was not given, nor did I require, repeated breaks to go get drinks out of the water fountain (and I’m not suffering from Alzheimers so I clearly remember that 99.9% of water breaks were simply to get out of class and had nothing to do with thirst). We got sips of water from the fountain when we passed it going to and fro recess or PE or bathroom breaks. Yes, there were times that I was a little thirsty by lunch. I survived a little thirst.

    I still don’t have a need to drink constantly. No adult should. If you are drinking non-stop all day, you are doing it to distract yourself and not out of any need for the water (much like people who snack all day when they are not hungry). The human body can function just fine without a constant supply of water.

    This is exactly like the snack issue. There is some idea out there that children are so frail that they cannot survive without food or water for more than 5 minutes. The same school of thought also states that children should not be hungry, thirsty or slightly uncomfortable for even a second or they are clearly the victim of bad parenting. This is complete bunk. I never pack a snack for my child to go anywhere. If we are out through a normal mealtime, we will get food. If we are heading home around the normal mealtime, she can wait. End of story. As skinny as she is, she is not going to die of starvation within an hour.

    What are these kids going to do when they get into an environment where they can’t eat and drink at will – aka many jobs? I don’t get to tell my judge that I’m hungry so we need to break RIGHT NOW.

  39. Donna, I was under the impression that at many jobs you could, in fact, bring a bottle of water with you.

    We’re not talking about stopping and having a full course meal. We’re talking about a few sips of water. I don’t find drinking a bit of water that distracting unless I have to get up and go get it.

  40. @Donna — “I clearly remember that 99.9% of water breaks were simply to get out of class and had nothing to do with thirst”

    That actually occurred to me as a downside of having bottled water at the desk. Sometimes you need that little break to be alone for a moment, and going to the water fountain is a good excuse.

    But I also don’t see any harm in having water all day. You are not going to actually harm yourself unless you’re chugging huge amounts of it.

  41. I’m sure there are studies showing that a less-oxygenated brain functions poorly, so I’m going to have to send a note to school with my child, asking his teacher to remind him to breathe from time to time.

    If your kid is thirsty, they should ask permission to get a drink. In hotter climates if they are allowed to have reusable bottles (at our school they allow them to prevent the spread of germs, but the kids don’t wash them, so I won’t even guess how that’s working), then great. Less steps to the fountain.

    But to need reminders to drink? C’mon.

    This brings up another of my favorite questions, though: Why are my kids in school well into June, and start back at the very beginning of August? What happened to Summer?

  42. Great topic Lenore!

    Unfortunately this water carrying infects our society, as you can tell from some of the comments by water addicts here. (ha!) I was just chidding my wife a couple days ago for acting defenseless or anxious if she didn’t have her water bottle with her. Once upon a time the only people who carried a canteen were travelers in a desert.

    Just like your original idea that cellphones have tied our kids to us in unhealthy ways — acting like we all need a water bottle with us is a part of our society’s greater problem of having less discipline.

    In the old days, we were taught that you did certain things at certain times. But now, everyone must have everything now. It’s your right to have a drink of water any single second you feel the least bit thirsty.

    I remember back in my college days, my roommate told me about a student who carried a water bottle with him everywhere. And back then it was viewed as odd.
    And it was. Nobody else on campus carried a water bottle.

    I realize the prevalence of water drinking articles in the media has driven this habit. But I wonder if those articles and research might have been driven by advertising dollars from water selling companies, just like “undiagnosed depression” is a topic pushed by pharmaceutical companies. Stories are planted. And the clueless public buys into the idea.

  43. LoopyLoo: And… then I would be fired. I honestly can’t imagine becoming a teacher these days. Between the low pay and the liability issues and dealing with modern parents, I’d last about a week.

    I couldn’t agree more.. My aunt is a teacher, and the stuff she tells me just drives me nuts. It seems that the focus has shifted. School used to be where you would learn about the things like reading/writing/math, etc, which would SUPPLEMENT the learning you were supposed to be doing at home.

    How many parents these days expect the schools to teach kids everything.. Including to drink when thirsty? That’s just sad. Children need education at home (and play time) to go with school.

    A friend worked at a “low performing school” and she really struggled. no matter how much you try to teach kids, when they go home, and there is no environment of learning, or time set aside for study/homework/etc (for whatever reason) the kids start to fall behind. When the parents are too busy, or just don’t care about what the kids are learning, the children see the example and don’t put as much effort into learning either.

  44. This is OT, but I don’t see an email to send to Lenore’s attention – Headline: “Ore. man faces abuse charges after dog grabs bunny”

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2012011599_dograbbit03m.html

    So watching nature in action, and not from the safety of the living room through the screen of a television is what, traumitizing? (Btw, you can’t “order” a dog to kill/eat a rabbit. If it doesn’t want to, it won’t. About all you can do in the way of “ordering” is to allow the dog to do what it wants to naturally).

  45. My daughter’s school wants them to bring water for PE. She’s the only one to use a reusable bottle, and gets teased for it. It’s kind of a pain that the other kids make her feel bad for having something reusable rather than throwing away a plastic bottle twice a week, but that’s how it goes.

    I don’t think they let the kids use them in class, though.

  46. “I was just chidding my wife a couple days ago for acting defenseless or anxious if she didn’t have her water bottle with her.”

    LOL Steve. What’s up with that? Does she rely on it as a weapon? Is it filled with holy water in case she encounters vampires? Well, I have plenty of people in my life who would happily assure her that you simply can’t be too prepared!

  47. I wasn’t aware that water bottles at student desks were unusual. My classmates and I always had one after about second grade (read: once we could handle them without making a huge mess) because it cut down on hall passes. Now, asking a teacher to remind one particular student to drink is a bit excessive, but I don’t see a problem with just handing your kid a (non-plastic, reusable) water bottle to throw in their bag. Sure, there are fountains, but those aren’t safe in all parts of the US. DC water, for instance, is currently undergoing investigation due to incredibly high lead levels.

  48. Lafe, I don’t know. Do they have longer breaks during the school year, or more holidays? Do they have a shorter school day? (Do YOU get most of summer off?)

    The point of vacations isn’t, whatever people say, for children to have a break. It’s to save money by not keeping schools open when parents will keep their children home. This is why students have the day off on public holidays – the parents have the day off and want to spend time with their children! This is why in NYC we have the High Holy Days off – there are enough Jewish students that in many schools their absence to attend services would leave classrooms empty. This is why my friend in Arizona, her kids get Rodeo Days off – plenty of people would otherwise just take their kids out of school for this. And this is why we have snow days, because if children wouldn’t come because of the snow it’s cheaper to close the school than to teach to a half-empty classroom.

    We have summer vacations because in rural areas parents would just keep their children home to help on the farm. Fair enough… but if you’re NOT in a rural area, summer vacation is just a time to find something for your kids to do. And while I’m not against latchkey kids, nor against teenagers staying home, I can appreciate that most people don’t want their children home alone all day from 8 – 5:30 (or whenever the parents get home) at the age of six or seven or eight. It’s a long time to leave your kids unattended, and a lot of people are living in two-income households. So instead they pay for camps and whatnot, and then there’s a 2+ month loss in learning when children return to school, because over the vacation children do forget skills. This is why September is mostly just review.

  49. Add me to the group who thinks kids are perfectly capable of drinking when they’re thirsty and functioning for an hour or two without water, unless it is very hot and they’re running around a lot. I also hate the constant pressure to bring snacks everywhere. We don’t do it, but then it seems rude if my kids accept something from someone else and never reciprocate. It’s not going to hurt kids to feel hungry and thirsty once in a while, and as far as I can tell you have to be a lot more water-deprived than having to wait for a lunch break for it to be harmful to you.

  50. I dont think it’s too ridiculous for kids to use re-usable water bottles at their desks, if they so choose.I do think it’s ridiculous to ask the teacher to encourage or monitor the childs water drinking. That seems like the parent truly believes the child can do nothing on their own, and that is sad.

    I do, however, remember being in school and sometimes totally needing the break from class to walk down the hall, linger at the fountain, drink some water, and go back to class. Sure I missed a few minutes of the lesson, but for the most part came back to class feeling a little more prepared and willing to sit and pay attention.

    Also, here’s an interesting article for those that think tap water is gross and bottle water is healthier (esp. in Canada, I guess).

    http://www.edmontonjournal.com/technology/Bacteria+Canadian+bottled+water+alarming/3069562/story.html

  51. A reusable, preferably aluminum, water bottle is listed as “optional” on the supply list for every grade at my daughter’s school. I suspect it’s because the water pressure in the drinking fountains is incredibly low, and there aren’t enough fountains to begin with. Not all kids have the bottles, but most do. It hasn’t been a problem, and the teachers don’t bother with reminding the kids to drink. My daughter brings her bottle home on Fridays and we run it through the dishwasher. No big deal.

  52. When I was in post-grad, one of my professor couldn’t believe how many students went to class with a cup of coffee or even a doughnut. He didn’t mind the night classes so much, when people worked during the day and didn’t have time for dinner, but day students had plenty of time ‘to snack’. As professionals how many of us eat/drink at our desks?

    Otherwise I’m in complete agreement. On hot days, have a water bottle for recess not class.

  53. Actually, having smaller meals (or snacks) throughout the day is much healthier than having 3 larger meals per day. You should graze.

    When I was in college I had one particular day where I worked from 5am until 11am, then had classes from 12 until 10pm. You had better believe I had both food and drink with me in my classes. The only break I had during the day was from 6 – 6:30. That was not a good semester.

    My husband brings his water with him to work every day. I have my water with me while working. My son has his water, and the faculty at his school also have water at their desks. It’s not a big deal. As far as things to worry about go, I’d think allowing kids to have water bottles at their desks is at the bottom of the list.

  54. Regarding bottled water, I totally agree, but then again I live in San Francisco where tap water is really, really good, although a lot of people in SF don’t know that because they have filters on their sinks and drink only bottled water.

    Schools are missing a wonderful opportunity to teach kids the amazing and wondeful things that water does for absolutely every part of your body. Especially elementary school kids would find it fascinating if taught in an engaging way. At that impressionable age, they would gain an understanding of its benefits that would last a lifetime and convince their parents to drink more water. I only had to read one book as an adult to be convinced of the benefits of water. The book didn’t lecture – it just described all the wonderful things water does for our bodies.

  55. Bottled water starts looking pretty darn good when half the drinking fountains in the district are tested and found to contain high levels of lead.

  56. Apparently water is being shoved down the little snowflakes’ throats so much no one remembers the penultimate whine…”IIIIII’MMMMM TTTHHHIIIRRRSSSTTYYY”. Kids know exactly how to get a drink of water when they need it.

    And this just in: so much water is being hyped now, marathon organizations are having to educate runners on “hyperhydration” because runners are now collapsing from drinking *too* much water. The wiki is interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_intoxication

  57. It is mandatory at my sons school that they have a Water-Bottle for their desk, we were required to buy one before he started school.

  58. “Donna, I was under the impression that at many jobs you could, in fact, bring a bottle of water with you.”

    For many professionals getting water regularly is not easily accomplished, even if it is techically available. People who are glued to a desk all day can probably drink at will but most of the rest of us are grabbing a sip here and there when we have a free moment. I often have a bottle of water sitting on my desk but I’m not always at my desk. I can’t take a bottle to the jail where I spend hours talking to people. I can’t take it to court, although sometimes the court provides water (but only for easy access by attorneys not the probation officers, deputies, court reporters, defendants, witnesses, jurors etc. stuck in the court room without water for hours – deputies are actually prohibited from drinking it and can only drink on a break) . A surgeon isn’t going to stop surgery everytime someone in the operating room is thirsty. Scientists often can’t bring into work space due to contamination issues. I’ve yet to go to a doctor’s, psychologist, speech therapist, etc. who pulls out a bottle of water during our appointment.

    I also don’t see many water bottles being pulled out on the assembly line or most other blue collar jobs. You get one 15 minute break every 4 hour shift; that’s when you drink. Ford isn’t going to halt the assembly line for you. Construction of a building doesn’t halt every time someone needs to drink.

  59. 1. A parent asking a teacher to keep her kid drinking is silly and overprotective, in my book. The teacher needs time to teach. The kid won’t learn what to do about thirst if he or she never gets the chance to experience it. Same with cold weather, rainy weather, and hot weather.

    2. My kids’ Kindergarten and first grade teachers preferred not to have water bottles in the classroom except during coughing season because for kids that young it was a huge distraction.

    3. My son’s second grade teacher prefers the kids to bring in their own reusable water bottles that they take home each day, preferably as part of their lunch boxes so they won’t forget. She has the kids keep them on the floor by their desks to minimize messy desk work. She says that most of them have figured out that going to the fountain lets them goof off for a few minutes, so she’d rather have them sip until they have to pee than get up every 10 minutes to get break.

    4. When my son was little he was underweight and so we always had snacks. He’d eat more in a drive-by fashion than if he sat down. That said, my kids are in grade school now and I only bring snacks if we’ll be gone more than 3 hours. They both have food allergies, so we can’t always hit a drive through window whenever we want (unless we want to eat a lot of french fries). But the snacks aren’t available to them whenever they want, only when I feel like the crankies are coming and we don’t have food coming soon. And even then what I have is paltry compared to other parents. They know they can’t eat other people’s snacks so that’s not a problem. I hate the snacking-all-the-time culture. And then parents complain that their kids won’t eat dinner. Hmmmm…

    5. My daughter just finished first grade and still has to be told to go to the potty at school. She doesn’t like to interrupt the teacher to ask permission and she also doesn’t like to walk away from an unfinished worksheet. Her teacher has a built-in potty time after recess for everyone, but my daughter often doesn’t go because she’s too busy reading, so she’s dancing by 2pm. As a parent, it’s a little embarrassing, but I can only talk to her about it so much. The teacher knew to shove her out the door if she noticed any of the telltale signs of a kid who needs to go. I wish the teacher didn’t need to do that for my daughter, but I’m not really sure what more I can do. Not really on topic, but a few people mentioned that kids this age can go potty when they need to. Depends on the kid, I guess.

  60. The whole idea that you must drink 8 glasses of water a day or suffer the agony of dehydration is based on a misreading of the original study by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. That study suggested that the recommended daily requirement for water should be roughly 1 ml per calorie consumed. At their recommended intake of 2000 calories a day, that works out to 2 liters a day, or roughly 8 eight-ounce glasses.

    What those who repeat the “eight glasses a day” mantra forget is that the study also said that we get most of our water in the foods we eat.

    The idea that you are dehydrated even if you don’t feel thirsty was the result of trying to get people to drink those 8 glasses of water on top of the H2O they were getting in their food.

    The human animal isn’t that poorly designed. Our poor neo-cortex just hasn’t caught up yet.

  61. @Lucy, Of course you’re free to spend your money where you like. But that doesn’t mean drinking bottled water is “good”. It is a fact that energy is used to transport water from one side of the globe to another which would be saved if you used water from your own location. Similarly, it’s a fact that plastic is used to package that water which then mostly ends up in landfills. Unfortunately it’s also a fact that some tap water is not good to drink and filters don’t get rid of everything. Campaign for better tap water! That would benefit everyone, not just those who can afford to buy clean water.

    For the person who doesn’t like the taste of tap water – filters have always got rid of the taste for me.

  62. Oh, a funny aside about the 8 glasses of water a day: I have a friend who believes fervently in this, and she’s always drinking water wherever she goes. As a consequence, I discovered on a day trip to the city with her, the first thing she has to do in any store, train-station etc, is locate the bathroom! That would be a negative consequence of kids drinking too much water – too many bathroom trips needed!

  63. Most of my son’s 2nd grade class has water bottles. In fact many have little bottles of hand sanitizer attached to their lunch boxes & back packs. This started in kindergarten.

    When I inquired about sending my son to school with a reusable water bottle (my mistake I asked) to school I was told my son needed a doctor’s note. In my son’s case, due to a potential for severe dehydration from a specific medication, it is medically necessary. So a doctor’s order was obtained & filtered through the nurse’s office.

    However with the number of drinking fountains readily available in his small school I cannot fathom why these kids need water bottles on their desks (medical reasons notwithstanding) especially since they don’t drink from them & they come home with them nearly full anyway!

  64. I noticed when I moved to California from Philadelphia, that many of the adults here schlep around a water bottle at all times. Like when going to a meeting in their offices. I figured it was a personal manifestation of the Western US obsession with water (reasonable because we don’t have enough to continue using it the way we do).

    The rule at my kids’ school is that they can have a reuable, non crinkly (in other words not like the bottles water is sold in) at their desks. There is no AC in their school, and I have noticed that my kids don’t get headaches when they are hydrated. I do think that the less humid the environment, the more water you need to drink. So I think it’s good to let me have water as needed. But I’d never expect the teacher to remind my kids to drink it. Barring some strange condition, that’d be just too much.

  65. There’s an awful lot of bad science about around drinking water and learning etc. As has been mentioned, there is the not insignificant issue of the water we get from food.

  66. Uly,

    I agree with you about schools closing because it’s cheaper than teaching empty classrooms, but I am a big believer in long Summer breaks. Down South, Summer break is only 2 mos long. I wish it were a full 3 mos as it was when I was a kid.
    Sure children need discipline but they also need 3 mos to go completely feral: catch frogs, hang out w/ friends, read the book they want to read, lemonade stands, go fishing, etc.
    Sure many families are 2 income are genuinely believe they need both salaries. But school is not a child’s “Job” like we have jobs. I want more for my DD than to be a good corporate citizen. We could live in a fancier house, we could subscribe to cable or dish, we could have a cell phone, we could purchase every gadget that comes down the pike and we could spend more than $5,000 for a car but then we would both have to work constantly to pay for crap that didn’t really enhance our life. Even without all that, we lead a sterling silver and cloth napkin lifestyle.
    We were at a formal ball last Feb. and DH met a man whose wife just had a baby.
    “Quit your job and stay home with your baby,” DH told him. “You won’t regret it. Do contract work from home parttime.”
    The man laughed until he realized DH was serious. “I can’t” he said. “I’m an executive for an aviation company.”
    DH smiled. “So was I.”

    The only way to have a free range family is to be debt-free.

  67. The only way, Mary Margaret? That sounds a little judgemental.

  68. There are very few things in life that are ever “the only way.” But allow Mary Margaret a little hyperbole. It is very, very difficult to be both in debt and free.

  69. Mary Margaret,

    why do you think your ideal should be everyone’s ideal? There are many families out there who value jobs and work, and would not be happy with your arrangement. And that is good as it is. Furthermore, I think your approach is risky with regards to health care, college education, travelling… etc. However, you might have a different risk awareness. I would not tell you how to live your life.

  70. @sonja, I think I missed something. What’s wrong with using energy? And similarly, what’s wrong with landfills? We have plenty of room in this country for trash, and modern landfills are getting quite good at capturing the methane to burn for…energy!

    I’m not opposed to better tap water, but it is a fact that people have been fighting to get flouride out of the water for many years, and it is very unlikely to happen on a wide scale anytime soon. Just like it is very unlikely that we will switch over to my favorite choice for energy, nuclear fission, in the near future.

    What the government backs the people have little chance of changing.

  71. correction: “my favorite choice for energy, nuclear fusion…”

  72. My 2 year old has a Camelback water bottle that we fill with RO water (we have our own filter, tap water here tastes terrible). I do also. When I was at work, I had a reusable bottle of water with me all of the time and drank as needed. I can’t imagine not allowing my daughter access to water when she has grown up with it at all times. I don’t force her to drink, it’s just available. I think that this is one of those things that we did when we were kids that should be changed – reusable water bottles that kids take home each night are a great idea. I would never ask the teacher to bug my kid about it, my kid is smarter than that, but not having an option to drink other than from a fountain in the hall? Even back in the day I thought that drinking fountains were icky and hard to drink from.

  73. I don’t mind kids having water bottles at their desks. I know there were times I was going to the fountain just to get out of class, but there were also lots of times I was legitimately thirsty and the teacher wouldn’t let me leave. Along those lines, a teacher in my district got fired because she wouldn’t let kids go to the bathroom except during recess and a lot of them developed UTI’s.

    As for snacking being related to overweight kids, I don’t think that in itself is the problem. It’s parents who give them a full meal 3 times a day, THEN carry snacks everywhere. And the snacks people tend to bring aren’t healthy ones. It’s not like I’ve ever seen a mom toting around a cooler full of carrot sticks and apple slices. It’s usually a bag of cereal, or a fruit roll-up, or some chips, or whatever.

    I keep snacks with me at all times because I have a tendency to forget to eat. I know, it sounds ridiculous. But when I finally get hungry, it’s to the point where I can’t just wait til we get home, because I’ll get sick. If my daughter wants to snack with me while we’re running errands, and then doesn’t want to eat dinner, that’s fine.

  74. By the way, reading all these comments made me Sooooo thirsty!

  75. OMG! lol! I was gonna say something, but it seems as if it’s all already been said. I’m with BeQui. I need some water!

  76. re: tap water, it depends on the municipality you live in. Our water comes from the Mississippi and drinking it means you trust the gov’t to properly clean it. I don’t have a ton of faith in that. We filter it ourselves and I drink that, but it does still give me pause.

    Where I grew up, they found out that fecal matter was getting into the water system for years before it was caught. Made my uncle – who was an early adopter of having an in-home water cooler – gloat!

  77. Normally I agree with most everything posted here but not this.

    Drinking fountains are breeding grounds for every common cold, flu and other germ out there. Kids sneeze on them, drool on them, put their mouths on them, spit on them all through out a school day. To top that off the drinking fountain is the least cleaned item in most schools or any public place. I am so far the opposite direction of germ obsessed but I find drinking from drink fountains to be disgusting and generally won’t let my kids do it.

    By the time a kid realizes they are thirsty they are already headed into dehydration which is why reminding them to drink often is important. It’s sort of like reminding them not to continuously get so busy they are always putting off going pee for just a bit more until their bladder are going to burst. Kids don’t always pay attention to their bodies early warning systems, heck even adults don’t. My nine year old will be beat red, sweating and panting yet still insist he’s not really thirsty. He’s a little ridiculous about not recognizing those body signals lol.

    I don’t like disposable water bottles but my kids always have a refillable water bottle with them, even in the house (cuts way down on dirty glasses).

    I don’t agree with parents bugging teachers to remind their kids to drink all day. The water bottle on their desk should serve as a visual reminder of that. Teachers don’t have time to tell kids every few hours to drink up. However I see nothing wrong with a teacher reminding students how important water is to our bodies and reminding them of how much a person should have everyday. Kind of like a one minute health lesson once a week lol.

    When I was a kid we had big camping jugs with spouts on them in the classrooms to use and everyone brought a cup from home. It cut way down trips to the drinking fountains, which could mean somebody out of the classroom every ten minutes through out the day. Water bottles are just an adaptation of that.

  78. We live in Phoenix and my kids both take reusable water bottles to school and yes, my oldest has it at her desk. I don’t think this is really that big of a deal. If you are at home and you are thirsty you get a glass of water to keep near you. So having a water bottle near the kids isn’t a stretch. Do my girls drink that much? No, but at least it is handy. They do have a fountain attached to the sink in the classrooms, but Phoenix water tastes terrible! (Straight from the canals, yummy!) Now, having a teacher watch how much water a child is drinking? That’s just stupid.

  79. OK, two things:

    One: Do we also need the teacher to remind our young us to breathe in AND out?

    Two: Google Ads inserted an ad for Culligan water systems. See how pervasive the problem is?

  80. This is an interesting thread. Many appear to be defending the “need” for the ubiquitous water bottle quite vehemently. These reactions reminded me of this article I read recently:

    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=1994

    It addresses three studies that touch on the issue of belief in the face of evidence.

    At some point, I’d love to see Lenore tackle the water bottle itself, as a status symbol. Hip and expensive water bottles seem to be an actual talking point in some circles.

  81. Mary Margaret: From a developmental standpoint, the time off should be as long or longer than it’s always been. However, we know enough about how brain development interacts with brain plasticity to see that long summer breaks make the school time itself less efficient. The brain must spend time in review each Fall. If we avoided long breaks, we could give the kids even more time to run and discover the world, in all seasons.

  82. This just asks for this great routine by Lewis Black, where he rants against bottled water (and where he remembers how he, when he was a kid, he could go anywhere in his house when he was thirsty – “and ‘thirsty’ being the operative word. Not ‘hydrated’ – that’s bullshit – but thirsty!” – and drink)

  83. As a teacher in (albeit a very difficult) middle school I have to tell you all the straight facts: 99% of the time, your little snowflake does not have to go to the potty, nor are they thirsty. They just want to go out in the hall, touch every brick in the wall on their way, look in other teacher’s classrooms and get the attention of their friends, and then check their cellphones and text their friends so that cellphones are beeping all over the place. (You do NOT want to get me started on cellphones and why on earth parents think 12 year olds need them.)

    Last year when I was nine months pregnant, I had the inevitable “monkey see, monkey do” where one kid asks to go to the bathroom and suddenly 30 bladders are full to the point of a SERIOUS EMERGENCY. I let them know that the only person in the room that had to go to the bathroom was ME, and that I hadn’t been in over three hours. That actually shut them up and that NEVER happens. LOL

    As for water bottles, sorry but they are a distraction. Perhaps in some school environments they are OK, but I could never allow it. They gave the kids snacks a few years back during our state testing and the little water bottles we handed out became squirt bottles when they bored holes in the lids with their pencils. Not to mention the wet tests. All you’re doing (in middle schools like mine anyway) are asking for more management problems. I can barely get through lessons as it is, so I don’t need anymore management issues. Every 50 minutes they all pass at least one (sometimes more than one) water fountain. There is no excuse.

  84. Where to begin?

    I love tap water. I’ve always liked it, maybe two years in Brazil where almost no one trusts the tap water help me come to love it.. It’s just so convenient. I don’t have to buy it at the store. I don’t have to lug it around.

    For the same reasons I like drinking fountains, especially the super cold ones! I don’t like carrying a water bottle. I may be genetically gifted, but I can happily go several hours without a drink. ;-) I have been told by a few dental hygienists that I’m a good salivator, so maybe there is some truth to that genetically gifted part.

    If I remember correctly, kids desks are small. I wouldn’t have wanted it taking up the space. And if it falls and/or spills it seems like unnecessary troubles.

    @ Kurt K – The water bottle is great way to show your friends and complete strangers how “earth-friendly” you are without having to say a thing or show them your hybrid car or recycling bins. The Onion has awesome water bottles. If I had money to spend on a water bottle I would get one. See links below, they’re fantastic.

    http://store.theonion.com/product/i-will-never-take-this-camping-water-bottle,62/

    http://store.theonion.com/product/my-other-water-bottle-is-50000-styrofoam-cups-stai,169/

    P.S. In the interest of blog-commenting adequate disclosure, I should I say I do own a darling, metal (I would have been so “yesterday” had it been plastic) water bottle. I have owned it for nearly three weeks now. A gift from the place I’m interning this summer, which is considerate because there are no water fountains anywhere in the whole building!

    More disclosure – I don’t like the taste of bottled water. No doubt that petty matter influences my entire attitude toward all issues surrounding disgusting bottled water.

  85. Every kid is different.

    Therefore, every kid has different needs with regard to water availability.

    And every kid has different needs with regard to freedom from other children’s water-and-bathroom-related interruptions and distractions.

    This, to me, is the most obvious issue in front of parents and teachers – not whether to allow, or not allow, water bottles at desks, but how to educate healthy and whole individuals while balancing their needs against the needs of the group.

    When I was 11 and brand new to little league, one day I had “sun poisoning” at practice. I was nauseous, couldn’t see, had the worst headache. Heat stroke? I have no idea. Basically I all but collapsed on the field after an hour or so and when practice was over, and all the other children had been dismissed, the coach drove me home. This experience did not teach me that the next time around I should be more assertive and ask to leave the field to get a drink or a break. It taught me that if one person falls down and the group keeps going, that one person is going to have to wait, and that it sucks to be the one person whose needs are different.

  86. Many of my students keep refillable water bottles with them here in Humid Houston. We have 1 water fountain and sink for every 4 classrooms. If I’m not directly teaching or giving a test students are free to get up and get a drink at any time. Having the water bottles

  87. @Andy: “One: Do we also need the teacher to remind our young us to breathe in AND out?”

    The stories I could tell you.

  88. You know, after reading these comments I wonder how many people think they are being “green” but are really just wasting an awful lot of water.

  89. Would you believe it’s not always easy to find a functioning water fountain? Not necessarily at school, but at many a playground — either the water stream is a joke (barely enough to sip) or none at all. So yes, the ubiquitous water bottle does come out for a bike ride or walk to the park, or to a T-ball or soccer game.

    I’m not particularly keen on plastic bottles, but I like to have them for parties (taking out a pitcher of Brita-filtered stuff for 20 plus guests is rather inconvenient). I did try getting a steel Thermos for my daughter, but she complained that ‘everything tastes funny’ after a while, so I went back to giving her plastic bottles, which she barely drinks. And you know where she goes most of the time — to the water fountain! (I think people are getting a bit too weird about getting germs from a water fountain — we did it as kids and we’re still here, right?)

    Totally agree about snacks too — sometimes guilty of this if we’re out for a long (a couple of hours) jaunt, but a short trip to the park doesn’t necessitate hauling out the Goldfish, etc. Still, can’t tell you how often my daughter will haunt me for a snack (and had already had one prior to going out) — I tell her to drink water, to which she says, “I’m not thirsty, I’m hungry!” I think it’s like a Pavlovian reflex — they used to get snacks constantly at daycare, and I have been guilty on occasion, but structure snacks around the day (okay to have one before lunch and one before dinner, but make sure they are relatively healthy things, not crap).

  90. After I volunteered at school and took the little twerps to the water fountain for a scheduled drink break, I became pro-water bottle. Ugh, those things are nasty. I am no germ-o-phobe and I do prefer tap water, but seeing what kids do both innocently and maliciously to the water fountain is just disgusting. This particular kindergarten teacher didn’t allow water bottles in her room. After a round of mono rook out most of the class, she changed her mind. Thermoses with the sipper straw thing are the best water bottles, nothing to open and spillproof.

  91. I had a water bottle in my class room, because it was freakin’ hot. The only time we were allowed to drink from the fountain was on the way in from recess, and every kid only got 3 seconds to drink. I would have sweat out AT LEAST that much at recess.

  92. Honestly, I’ve taught a few different grades as a teacher- in my prek class, the kids went to get water when they wanted to, and I didn’t monitor it. Most kids who brought water forgot about it during the day. In other grades, though, a lot of teachers (including myself, I admit!) don’t allow kids to get up to have water nearly enough, even when they ask. Being myself a person who drinks a lot of water, I can’t imagine how they could get enough when they’re on line with kids waiting behind them at a water fountain. While I do agree that sometimes parents can get overzealous in their care-taking, I think encouraging a healthy habit like drinking water (rather than soda or colored sugar water) can’t be a bad thing.

  93. This is a great topic. Our school sends home notices each year saying to please send a water bottle for your child to keep at their desk–and yes, they mention the “study” about hydration and brain functioning. Would like to see the research on that.

    I don’t see many kids with plastic water bottles. The majority of kids have the thermos, canteen etc. filled with tap water from home. I think it does save a lot of disruption for the teachers.

    But I do have to chuckle, because adults are hyper water mad too. Just take note at your next meeting at work, adult ed class, etc. How many folks come in with water bottle in tow? As if they just can’t go 45 minutes without a sip! Funny. I think it is the adult’s version of a security blanket (or binky–whaa).

  94. At the middle school where I work, you need a note from a parent to carry water. Probably because some of our kids would use the water bottles to sneak in vodka.

  95. “If you are at home and you are thirsty you get a glass of water to keep near you. ”

    Yes, but I get a glass of water, which I may take with me or I may just take a drink and leave it in the kitchen, when I’m thirsty – like going to a water fountain as opposed to a bottle of water within arms reach at all times. I don’t understand this NEED so many people have to have a beverage within arms reach every waking second of every single day. It’s not a physical requirement so it must be some emotional attachment to fluids that I just don’t have.

    I’m not necessarily opposed to Jr having a water bottle in school. Personally, I think it needs to stay in the locker or where ever elementary school kids store their stuff rather than on the desk at all times. There are sufficient breaks in the day to grab a drink from water bottles kept in those places if thirsty. It just seems like one more yuppie (not sure if that word is used any more but it fits), middle class craze and, frankly, I’ve had it up to my eyebrows with yuppie, middle class crazes. I guarantee you that in the schools in my district with 100% free lunch enrollment, water bottles don’t make an appearance (and since I’ve read no stories of a local juvenile dehydration crisis, the kids manage to stay hydrated just fine). But the yuppie, middle class set acts as if they and their kids are dying if they don’t have a water bottle within 6 inches of them at all times. I’m not saying that we should all deprive ourselves but a little perspective is nice occasionally. You or your children simply don’t need water surrounding you 24/7, you’re not a fish. Your middle or high schooler can grab a few swallows as she changes her books between classes and still remain sufficiently hydrated to learn effectively.

  96. Oh and I’ll add – unless there is a health problem – no, you absolutely do not get out of class to go get a drink from those water bottles stored in the locker. Unless class length has increased by about 1,000 fold since I was in school, no child is going to die of dehydration during algebra class and any attempt to get water means one of two things: (1) you really are thirsty but didn’t adequately prepare by grabbing a drink between classes (mostly likely because you were too busy talking to friends) and need to learn to take responsibility for doing things at the appropriate time, or (2) you find math as boring as I do and just want to wander the hall for awhile.

  97. I have no problem with the drinking of water, and as a teacher water bottles are preferrable than a dozen kids parading in and out of the room, but having to remind them? If you think these parents are bad, what will the children of these parents be like as parents?

  98. It’s funny to me because when I was in grade school, I used to keep a thermos in my lunch box and I would go sneak drinks of it during the day because I thought water fountains were absolutely disgusting.
    I remembered we’d line up to drink out of the fountain and I’d pretend to drink without touching the water.

    No one told me they were gross, just at the young age of 6 or 7, watching the kid with the runny nose drool in there totally turned me off.

  99. As a teacher I have to say that the majority of kids’ headaches and stomaches are attributed to not drinking enough water and the majority of kids’ whining and wanting to go to the nurse is because they have headaches and stomaches. So if having water at their desk keeps them in my class, if they remember to drink it, then I’m 100% in favor. (And I do allow them to do so)
    But I see all the points as well =)
    Best,

  100. I think all teachers should be required to keep coolers of red bull and packets of mixed nuts on hand.

    I think the fact that we have to have this conversation at all reveals just how bipolar and narcissistic our society is, and how much we are in love with policies. We seem to need a policy about everything. We can just bring bottles of water if the drinking fountain is gross or broken.

    One study comes out and suddenly we toss out everything our own experience has told us. Why?

    julie

  101. Mary MArgaret : “The only way to have a free range family is to be debt-free.”

    Right. Of course. There’s only one way to do this. I should have known that if I couldn’t live my life exactly like you I couldn’t even consider my lifestyle to be remotely in keeping with the sorts of things Lenore talks about in her book.

  102. An interesting thought:

    All over the station we have signs telling us to drink more water (don’t want paramedics passing out on the job I guess). Can not even our health professionals be trusted?
    Mind you, I find I drink ALOT of water when I’m at work in Summer. The heat just zaps it out of you (see earlier point about me growing up in a cold climate though, haven’t acclimatized to this Australian weather yet!)

  103. I apologize for posting here, but I looked all over and couldn’t find an email address for you. I thought you might look at this link and possibly post your thoughts on it. http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/john-mark-karr-who-once-confessed-to-jonbenet-ramsey-murder-in-news-again/19500299?ncid=webmaildl1

  104. Bottles of water are almost my number one, pet hate. In fact, if we’re talking ‘hobbies’ hating bottled water, and always asking for tap water in restaurants is up there in my top ten. A friend slept in her son’s room recently because – wait for it – he drank some of his bathwater!

  105. Throwing my two cents in the ring, I have to wonder how we didn’t all shrivel up and die, thirty years ago, when I was a school kid.

    Back in the seventies, when I went to primary school (ages six to eleven), bottled water didn’t even exist, as far as I remember. We went to school at half past eight after breakfast with milk or tea, had recess at noon, at which most of us walked home for lunch with a glass of milk or a cup of tea and at four-ish walk home again for a cup of tea and then went out to play until six. Oh, and there was the school milk thing. All in all, we survived the day, be it schorching hot or freezing cold, with three cups of tea and two glasses of milk, with the occasional glass of water or, on special occasions, lemonade thrown in here and there. Toiletbreaks were rare as well, from what I remember, and it was an emergency indeed if you asked to go during class, it beting an unspoken agreement to go either before class or after. “Don’t interrupt others during work” was hammered into us (because back then parents and educators were more interested in nurturing ‘others-esteem’ in children than ‘self-esteem’)

    ‘High school’ (twelve to seventeen) was roughly the same, with the one difference being that we took lunch with us. We drank hot chocolate from a hot chocolate machine in winter and cartons of milk which we bought from the canteen.

    I remember being amazed, back in the early eighties, that there were people in restaurants who paid top money for ‘mineral water’, which came in (glass) bottles. A top notch marketing trick if I ever saw one. Those plastic bottles are a quite recent phenomenon, and I wonder how people used to survive before them. I can only remember never being that thirsty in the first place. Two glasses of milk and a few cups of tea per day apparently was enough to sustain me. Where does that strange idea that children need to drink two litres a day com from, anyway?

  106. I guess the way I looked at it was the teacher was frustrated with giving the children reminders to drink the water. That is where my frustration would be, not the water bottle itself.

    I personally let my students bring water bottles to school to use. I do wish they would not be the store bought water. I have a few rules about it. They have to stay on the child’s desk (unless filling it up), cannot go in the desk, and it has to have a cover. I have first graders and believe me I am cleaning up a water spill every single day. I do not give the kids reminders to drink water. That is up to them. I also let them take a bathroom break whenever they want/need to do so. I have a sign out system so I know who is going and only a few at a time.

  107. I find the proliferation of water bottles on elementary school desks to be extremely obnoxious. Typically, the water is 1/3 or less gone, and the bottle rolls around on the floor, waiting to trip someone. The kids know if they want their water bottles, they need to keep them close because any unattended ones – specifically the ones left in the aisles for my decrepit self to trip over – will be immediately thrown into the waste basket, empty or not. The kids also get a “snack” time – because studies show that if they’re nourished, they think/learn better. These are 4th and 5th graders. Do you remember the days when birthday cupcakes were so danged wonderful we wolfed them down immediately, because after kindergarten, there WAS no “snack time”?

  108. At my junior school (I’m 16 so this is only 5+ years ago), we weren’t allowed to have water bottles, in bags or on desks or anything, nor were we allowed to go out to the water fountain (which was filthy and disgusting) to drink. The only time you were allowed to drink was when you were in the dining hall eating your lunch and then after that you could go to the water fountain at breaktime. There was one water fountain for the entire school of 400 children and as I’ve already said, it was filthy and disgusting. Every day, I would come through the door and immediately go and drink about 4 glasses of water.

    In my final year there, there was some campaign to get children to drink more water and they handed out water bottles to everyone. They were only about 300ml and they were the ONLY water bottles we were allowed. They also bought a water cooler for people to get water from as everyone avoided the water fountain. The only problem? A tiny bottle of water like that doesn’t last long (especially when it’s summer in a school with a glass roof – it was always above 30 degrees C from the mid-April onwards) and the water cooler was in the central area, where you weren’t allowed to go during class and where you had to be accompanied by an adult if you wanted to go at break so you never actually got to fill up the bottle.

    Not wanting to remind kids to drink water I can understand, and that’s what I understood from the story was the problem – if it’s an issue, put up some signs, but it’s up to the kids really. But I know that I HATED not being able to drink during the day and that water should ALWAYS be available.

  109. Interesting topic. In the past year, I’ve interviewed teachers in the K-3 group regarding what interests kids. I was intrigued because we saw that a lot of today’s smoking cessation was “bottom up.” In other words, kids would learn about the dangers of smoking at school and come home and pester and “guilt” mommy and daddy till they stopped.

    The same thing is happening in environmental issues. It’s the kids who are insisting that mom and dad take reusable bags to the supermarket, and they are the ones who are pestering mom and dad to avoid plastic bottles. Of course, there will always be parents who over-coddle and who insist that little precious stays “hydrated.”

    Amazingly, though, hydration is another issue that has been blown out of proportion through ignorance, however well intended. As with eating, the human mammal will manage to get the right nourishment and enough water when left to its own devices and doesn’t need “reminding,” unless it has been conditioned only to drink when there is an external (versus biological) prompt. Ever watch how much more kids (or any of us) drink after exercise and exertion than in between classes?

    And guess what? There’s a DANGER (Love to use that word. Sometimes it’s the only way to get attention.) of too much “hydration.” By constantly infusing young bodies with water, the kidneys are force to work constantly. They were not designed to do so. Keeping the system constantly “on” can take other resources away from other functions–like concentrating on school work.

    However well meaning these parents are, and however important it is to get enough water for the basic functioning of the body, once again, opinion and junk science is causing more problems for kids.

  110. “I have first graders and believe me I am cleaning up a water spill every single day.”

    And that’s one of my problems with it. There is no necessity for water every second of every day. If fountains are an issue at your school (unclean, too far away), water bottles can be kept somewhere in the room to be grabbed out at a break time, after recess or after PE (although they should be able to take them with them on the last two as then they might actually NEED it). I’ve yet to meet a 1st grader who, if given something to play with, didn’t play with it. Why should our teachers be spending time every day cleaning up water spills because our hopelessly pampered children think they must have a water bottle present at all times? And, on a related topic, why aren’t these 1st graders cleaning up their water spills themselves?

  111. I believe the tide (ha, ha) is turning. In our district, a few years ago, it was unheard of to have a school-wide, parent-created function, without hundreds of water bottles on hand. A year ago, I was asked to provide water for the hordes and I suggested big jugs of water and paper cups. I know, a waste of paper cups as there were still many water fountains waiting patiently in the hallways. I must say, I was a little nervous about my gallon jugs of water and plain-old dixie cups; they really just looked…boring and uncool! My daughter wasn’t too pleased, either. But no-one complained–parent or child–and now the PTO has semi-officially sworn off water bottles. I don’t believe that my small act of rebellion changed attitudes–I think our area is just becoming fairly “green” in general–but I bet it didn’t hurt!

  112. My, how things have changed. I remember when I was in first grade in 1986, after gym class we would line up at the water fountain. We were only allowed to drink while the kid behind us counted to 3. If I was lucky, the kid would count “mississippi.” We definitely weren’t allowed to have water bottles at our desks. Somehow I survived.

    These days, I’m nagging my almost-3-year-old to drink water all the time, and I’m never without a water bottle anywhere I go. I too have dehydration-phobia. But I’d hate to think I’m going to be that mom who insists the teacher treat her like she’s special, telling her to drink water every minute of the day. Then she’ll be running to the bathroom continuously all day too. Seems pretty counter-productive. I agree with the others who said that a bottle of water at break times and recess is sufficient.

  113. I’m just mad about the knock on book stores. Libraries eat taxes. Book stores pay them.

    We need businesses – other tax-funded services can’t exist without them.

  114. I find it interesting that people would create such a stink about their children getting enough water during the day when, during lunch, the equivalent of toxic waste is being served in the lunchroom.

  115. My daughter’s first grade teacher required water bottles- citing the study about learning and hydration. She quickly changed her stance however, when the kids started sneaking in Dr. Pepper. The kids managed to make it through the year with only the water fountain to sustain them.

  116. Hmmm.

    From many of these comments, It looks like a lot of helicopter parents stopped by for a visit.

    Welcome. Have you read Lenore’s FreeRange kids book?

  117. Kind of ironic that a website that is all about allowing kids freedom and responsibility is taking a stance against letting school-aged children have a drink of water without having to ask permission.

  118. I’ll kind of disagree with you on this point. My 5 year old daughter sometimes gets too busy to realize she is thirsty. It got to the point where her urine smelled bad because she wasn’t drinking enough water (not an infection, we had her tested). For summer camp, she has a reusable water bottle that she takes everyday that is filled with tap water (I don’t buy bottled water). Ever since we started to give her this, she had started to drink a lot more water and is happier because of it. I’d much rather see all the kids in class sitting there with a bottle of water than seeing them bring in sugary juices or soda.

    Oh, and I am not a helicopter parent. I live in a perfectly safe neighborhood in an apartment complex across the street from the complex park. She plays outside everyday with about 5 to 10 other neighborhood kids ( from her age to about 10 years) for about 3 hours a day. And guess what? Rarely do any parents stay outside with there kids. Imagine that!!!

    Most things I don’t hover around with, but her health is something that I have always paid attention to. She plays outside for a long time everyday which is healthy and she is so much more happy now that she can play outside without parental hovering. But I do make sure that she gets her fill of water. There should be a fine balance with everything and I think I balance things well.

  119. I don’t think it’s ironic, Esther. I think that children need to be taught that they can’t have everything they want when they want it. This is a very important thing to learn and one that will serve them well when they enter the workforce. I recently got a new job. Most nights I am so busy that I cannot stop for a break to get food or something to drink. I usually have to wait until I get home or am driving home from work. That is real life. I am a single mother and this was the only position I was offered after being laid off from my job of 10 years. How hard would it be if I had not been taught patience and self-control. Kids will survive not having water bottles at school.

  120. @Lucy, I didn’t say using energy is “wrong”. But we need to be aware of the consequences. i.e. oil spills for example. And the idea that we have more than enough space for landfills is not correct: there are many municipalities that have to ship out their waste at considerable expense. Methane by the way is only produced by organic waste, not by plastic bottles, which take geological time-scales to degrade. So use water in plastic bottles, but be aware that it contributes to demand for oil (the plastic is also made from oil) and turns more and more of our country into a trash heap.

  121. “I’d much rather see all the kids in class sitting there with a bottle of water than seeing them bring in sugary juices or soda. ”

    I agree but that’s not the options we are talking about. We are talking about kids either having water bottles at their desks or making due with the water fountain as we did. Nobody is advocating changing those water bottles for coke cans or juice boxes (although I suspect that some kids have something other than water in those water bottles). Nor does the presence of water bottles on desks mean that juice and soda aren’t making appearances in lunchboxes.

  122. @Esther — “Kind of ironic that a website that is all about allowing kids freedom and responsibility is taking a stance against letting school-aged children have a drink of water without having to ask permission.”

    I agree. Yes, kids need to learn about patience and not always getting what they want, but there are lots of ways to learn that. *If* the kids are behaving responsibly with the water, there’s no harm. But then, my main goal for my kids’ schooling is not for them to become obedient little cogs in a machine who need to ask permission to pee or get a drink.

  123. “Hmmm.

    From many of these comments, It looks like a lot of helicopter parents stopped by for a visit.

    Welcome. Have you read Lenore’s FreeRange kids book?”

    I was totally thinking that, too!!!

    At the mother whose child’s urine smelled bad… I have news for you. Her shit doesn’t smell all that sweet, either.

  124. I want to reply to this from a few points of view.

    1. When we think of the 64 ounces of water a day, people are forgetting the liquid that is in some foods. Fruit contains liquid. Fruit juice counts as liquid, too. We don’t need to overhydrate.

    2. I’m a teacher. I’ve had it both ways. Now, working in a high school, I keep a brita pitcher and cups in the classroom. Our water fountains are unsafe (we literally have signs above the sinks in the cooking class that say “hand washing only, do not drink.” How is the fountain on the other side of the wall safer if it’s not filtered?

    3. Unless there is a specific health need, there is no need to remind students to drink water. I’m too busy trying to meet the children’s educational needs to remind them to do what their bodies will tell them to do when they need to. However, I often have children whose basic needs (emotional, but sometimes physical such as food) have not been met so that I can get directly to the education. I have to do both. I see this as a huge disconnect.

    I sometimes buy bottled water. I can’t drink soda due to a stomach problem and sometimes when I’m out I have to buy something to drink. At home, though, I drink filtered water or when I’m in NYC, tap water. New York water tastes much different than the water I’m leaving behind in Los Angeles (Moving across the country in two weeks).

  125. @sonja, it is not the demand for bottled water that caused the spill in the Gulf, bottled water uses maybe a third of a percent (.003) of the total oil consumption. Far and away the biggest consumer of oil in this country is the military. In fact, the US military is the biggest consumer of oil in the world. That’s why the government has pushed deepwater drilling (which also lets it get cozy with environmentalists by pushing drilling further from eyesight).

    And it really is a fact that there is plenty of room in this country for landfills, the energy required to transport waste from even those built-up municipalities is still much less than the energy required to run recycling a recycling scheme and recycling plants.

  126. @ ChristopherByrne who wrote: “I was intrigued because we saw that a lot of today’s smoking cessation was “bottom up.” In other words, kids would learn about the dangers of smoking at school and come home and pester and “guilt” mommy and daddy till they stopped.”

    Of course. Children are very easily influenced, just ask the Soviets! They were masters at manipulating children and getting them to stand up against Mum and Dad, even reporting “bad” behavior on the part of their parents. That’s why government schools are sooo dangerous.

  127. Elizabeth – I’m with Amanda on this one. The color and smell (and in the case of solid waste – consistency and floatiness) of our “outputs” tell us a lot about the quality of our “inputs.” Feces should not be all that stinky. I’m not saying it should smell like roses, but dark, overly smelly feces that sinks is typically a sign of not enough fiber. Conversely, light brown floaters that don’t curl the paint of the bathroom walls are a sign of healthy digestion.

    Is this going to cause an acute problem that a kid will know how to solve by eating more green veggies? Of course not. Would eating more greens be better for the kids (and likely the parent) – yes.

    Similarly, dark smelly, urine and/or feces that is hard and hard to pass are signs that a person would benefit from better hydration. But unless you are taught this, how would you know it. A kid isn’t going to automagically correct their diet based on these observations. Especially since we shy away from “potty talk” in polite company.

  128. Elizabeth, that was a little overkill. She’s simply saying that some kids need reminders to drink. Of course urine doesn’t smell like roses, but if it’s bad smelling enough that you’re concerned there’s a bladder infection, then there’s a problem. Cool it.

  129. I never knew I was supposed to worry when poop didn’t float!

  130. Uly,
    I refuse to tie shoes for any kids at my school. They wear them dragging everywhere including the bathroom yuck. I tell them to take care of their laces. I don’t care if they tie them or tuck them in, so long as they are off the floor.

  131. I remember being thirsty a LOT at school. And if you took more than 5 seconds at the water fountain you’d be told to “leave some water for the fishies”. So, yes, IMHO all kids should have refillable water bottles or cups at their desks. Teachers don’t like shuttling 25+ kids to the fountain. Kids get thirsty. Obviously being thirsty wont’ kill you, but it’s hard to focus on long division when all you can think is “I’m thirsty!”. Having refillable water bottles, possibly even with a water dispenser in the classroom, makes sense IMHO from a time perspective and from a learning perspective.

  132. In my experience, in an often un-airconditioned rooms the small milk carton for lunch and one or two trips to the fountain are not going to cut it. Hopefully children are able to come and go to the drinking fountain when they need to, but short of that, go buy a cheap plastic bottle and fill it with tap water each morning.

    Sure, kids could survive without it, kids have survived much worse. But why bother, unlike falling off ones bike while learning to ride, being thirsty doesn’t gain a kid anything developmentally, and it takes one trip to a store to buy a durable bottle and five seconds to turn on the facet and fill it each morning.

    As for reminding kids to drink, baring exceptional circumstance(most of which seem like they would keep a kid out of school) any child old enough to be in school should be able to know when they are thirsty and how to go to the always available fountain or use there water bottle.

  133. Honestly, this is not about to have water or not to have water. It’s that parents, once again, have delegated parenting (teaching her child how to 1. recognize thirst, 2. what to do about it 3. take care of own body by asking for a drink). Many parents today are totally abdicating parental responsibility to other; coaches, teachers, day care workers. The last thing parents want to do after a full day of work is come home and actually do the hard work of parenting. Since they spend so much time at school with a teacher (and then babysitter), let the teacher handle it! It also allows the parents to BLAME someone else when/ if their child “goes bad”.

  134. Wow. Such . . . aggression!

    Just a thought. Is it possible that the person who sent the original note to Lenore is frustrated by the clutter that water bottles create in the classroom? Or is the frustration more about the inanity of “having” to remind the kids to “drink your water, now!”

    For some kids, being too busy to drink is akin to being too busy to use the bathroom – remember those days, from toddlerhood? And I don’t say that to be cruel or dismissive of the mom’s concerns about her child’s health. I’ve just found that in many cases, if a kid is interested in what they’re doing, they don’t want to be disturbed and removed from that activity in order to take time out from it and take care of business – like using the bathroom, getting a drink, eating lunch, etc. – because “that can wait just a minute,” and then soon “just a minute” turns into an hour or never. And if you’re honest with yourself, dear reader, you know you’re guilty of that same behavior from time to time. “Oh! I’ll start dinner just as soon as I’m done checking email!”

    I agree with the majority of the people who posted comments regarding the amount of liquids a kid gets during the course of the day.

    But, the body does (usually) know what it needs – and if it is thirsty, you’ll know it (usually). And, there is liquid in some foods (fruit was cited by someone else on the forum).

    However – there are cases where the body doesn’t recognize thirst, and if your urine is dark and smells differently or smells more than usual, and it’s painful to urinate, then that’s usually a sign that your body isn’t getting enough liquid. Makes sense to have this checked out.

    If the adults in the school can’t be without their thermos of coffee or whatever their beverage of choice is while at work, then it stands to reason that the kids probably can’t do without a refreshing drink now and then, either, throughout the course of the day. I just wish (wish, wish, wish. did I mention “wish”?) the kids would clean up after themselves (you can quit laughing, now) and take care of their water bottle clutter.

    Instead of slinging shit at each other (sorry. sort of.) what are some reasonable solutions for this issue? Moms & dads address it at home? Only those with legitimate medical needs get the water bottles? Water bottles only during hot months of school? All water bottles tossed at the end of the school day? Water allowed, stored on an accessible shelf in the classroom, during certain times of the day? Have everyone line up and count to 1-2-3-Mississippi so everyone can get a drink?

  135. I don’t see what the problem is with water bottles (reuseable ones that the kids are responsible for). Agree that reminding the kids to drink seems a little OTT though.

    Here in Australia (where, granted, it does get really hot a lot) water bottles are the norm in elementary school classrooms but I’ve never heard of teachers reminding kids to drink from them or being asked to do so. The kids just drink when they are thirsty, thereby taking ownership of their own hydration and increasing their independence and free-rangeness :-) (After all, adults don’t generally have to wait until a specified time to drink, do they – they respond to their thirst and drink when they want to.)

  136. The teachers at my children’s school encourage kids to bring their own water as well. And I couldn’t be happier about it. I don’t buy bottled water. I send in a sport’s bottle with each of them, filled with water from home.

    I am very much into fitness and nutrition. I love water. But even I don’t drink enough unless I have my water with me. It’s not that I don’t “take responsibility for my own thirst,” but like all things in life, I don’t always do what I should. I forget. I get busy. Whatever.

    I love that my kids can reach down and grab a sip of water while working on a math sheet, without having to stand up and disrupt the class or their concentration.

    I see it as progress. I honestly don’t see the big deal in this one. Sorry.

    Sandy

  137. Hmmm….I send my daughter to school with a water bottle because we are REQUIRED to. We are TOLD to. I wondered–can’t she just go to the fountain if she’s thirsty? I think it’s that teachers don’t want them using “Can I get a drink from the fountain?” as an excuse to get out of their chairs and wader, so they have them keep water in bottles at their desks.

    I would never ask a teacher to “remind” my daughter to drink, but I do remind her, because she really does not drink enough liquid thrououghout a day, and it can be a dehydration problem, especially given how much she likes to play outside in the heat. Children don’t always make the wisest dietary choices at the age of 6.

  138. Oh, and the bottles parents send are reusable sports bottles, probably filled up from the tap (ours is), not bottled water per say.

  139. Wander, not wader. I think it’s just easier for all concerned for kids to have access to water they can drink whenever they feel thirsty. I’m not opposed to it myself.

  140. When I was in elementary school we could bring bottles or cups from home and fill them with tap water. We didn’t have air conditioning and it could get pretty hot. I think this is far better than using a water fountain so you don’t have to leave class so often just to get a drink. Plus, even if we took water breaks along with bathroom breaks, that would be 2 water fountains shared by 20-30 students and it would take a very long time. I think that having bottles of water is far preferable to the water fountain method. Of course buying bottled water is ridiculous, but it’s also ridiculous for kids to leave class constantly to go to a fountain when they could just as easily keep water at their desks.

    Then in high school we were forbidden from carrying water from class to class for some reason. I guess they were terrified that we’d spill it and make a mess. They also didn’t give us enough time to go to our lockers between classes, let alone stop at a water fountain. I think that a 14 year-old is responsible enough to manage to carry around a bottle of water, but my school didn’t agree.

  141. I read back my letter, and I really didn’t mean to sound that harsh or judgmental. The world is full of different temperments and thank God for that. Things would never get solved otherwise. I’m just very proud of the way DH has managed his time and our money. Someone mentioned that it sounds like a risky lifestyle – not if you live beneath your means and put a substantial amount in savings, which we do.
    Again, I’m sorry, ya’ll.

  142. From a classroom management perspective – water bottles make sense for me. The way the water fountain is positioned in my pod, groups getting water block my door. My procedure when coming in from lunch (We had specials/recess/lunch in the middle of the day creating an hour and forty-five minute break for the kids).

    1. No stopping for water
    2. Sit down, heads down
    3. I give instruction for the next activity.
    4. each table could then send 1 boy and 1 girl to the bathroom/water fountain while they worked. (They decided who got to go in what order)

    Results we got started with 2 – 3 min of returning to class, and we go our work done by the time to switch classes 30 minutes later. Because kids weren’t sitting waiting I had less behavior problems.

    When I let them get water as we came in with the other three classes getting water – we would end up with 10 – 15 minutes to teach – so it was more Sage on stage than I would like. It made hands on science activities almost impossible unless my partner teacher could give me an extra 15 minutes. If I did that my afternoon group was short-changed and they were low and needed the time and the hands on. Also I was dealing with bored kids waiting – often with the hands on materials out on their desks. Lots of behavior problems.

  143. All the people talking about how “there’s time between classes” clearly don’t remember high school.

    Back when I was a kid I heard that line too, and you know what? There WASN’T time between classes.

    There were four minutes between bells, four minutes where you had to fight and push your way through the halls, and if you were lucky and on the same floor you could hope to get to class on time. Any other situation and you were out of luck. (And heaven forbid you DID want to talk to friends. Or even if you wanted to ask your teacher a question. Then there was no way of being on time.)

    There wasn’t a spare second for stopping for anything. Putting your jacket in your locker? No time, carry it with you. Getting a drink of water? No time. Going to the toilet? No time. Talking to your friends? Only if they were walking the same way you were.

    I don’t know what halcyon school some of you went to/teach at, but there’s just not that much free time. (I had one teacher claim it only took two minutes to get from one end of the school in the basement to the other end on the third floor. Further questioning revealed he’d never tried this during the bell change, but only when the halls were empty.)

  144. My kid’s classroom is on the second floor, on the south side of the building, with these great big windows. On sunny days, even in the winter, it’s stifling in the afternoons. I think the building is air-conditioned, but the air-conditioning system, like the heating system, is ancient and inefficient. And I am not a fan of kids wearing practically no clothing to school. (Neither is the school: they have a dress code. But their standards are quite a bit lower than mine: they ban spaghetti straps and exposed navels but allow tank tops, for example.) And, yes, it’s very hard to concentrate when you’re dehydrated. So I am in favour of letting kids bring water bottles to school. As long as they’re the refillable kind and can be replenished from the nearby drinking fountain, of course — there is certainly no need to teach kids who live in places with perfectly safe drinking water that water from plastic bottles is better!

    I would also suppose, though I’m not a teacher myself, that a water bottle at each kid’s desk is WAY less disruptive in a warm classroom full of kids who just spent 20-30 minutes running around at recess or in PE class than a constant procession in and out of, or around, the classroom to and from the drinking fountain.

    That said, it would never in a million years occur to me to ask my kid’s teacher to remind her to drink water frequently. Good heavens, surely if you’re old enough for school (and not developmentally delayed in any way) you’re old enough to take a drink when you’re thirsty?!

  145. “All the people talking about how “there’s time between classes” clearly don’t remember high school.”

    I DO clearly remember high school. I DO remember never carrying more than 1 or 2 books, meaning I was making it to my locker between almost every class. You’re sitting in a classroom, not crossing the Sahara by foot. It’s not like you need time to down a gallon of water. And my high school was 3 stories, with outbuildings, so not small. But then again, I also made it by foot (because I hated the buses) from one end of my very large college campus to another in less than 15 minutes so maybe I just move fast when I have a time limit.

  146. It’s funny how much conversation this has sparked.
    Donna, you may remember having had plenty of time to get to classes and have a lovely drink from a cool, fully functioning bubbler with no one waiting behind you. You obviously never went to get a drink and either found a loogie in the drain, boogers on the button or such low water pressure that you’d have to lick the spigot to get any water. That’s not the water fountain of my youth in a fifty year old building, it’s my kids’ four years young new school. You seem pretty cranky Donna. Maybe you need a drink of water.

  147. Jen Jen, you crack me up! I attended the same school from 6th – 12th grade – a three-storey monstrosity. You had to time everything “just so” in order to get to class on time, and you quickly learned which bathrooms had a stall available if you had to pee during the time you were changing classes.

    Re: the water fountains, yes – the loogie, the gum, the tobacco globs – or just plain old not working! It was easier to try and stick your head under a faucet to get a drink!

    I went to school in the 1980s – we would not have dreamed of carrying a beverage with us, or food, though we were allowed to carry a bag for our books – At my kids’ school, they are not allowed book bags/back packs/purses (only small, discreet purses for the girls) because of the school code and “safety reasons” – so they have to go to lockers unless they want to carry books for every class, all day.

    Have the water at your desk – but pick up after yourself, dang it, and don’t make a nuisance of having your water. I don’t want to hear it gurgling down your throat, or hear the bottle squeezing between your fingers, and I don’t want to be tripping on the water bottle because you carelessly leave it on the floor.

    Jen Jen, I’m going to have some water now!

  148. Donna, your school must have been well below capacity, then. The high schools I went to were of two choices: Ten story monstrosities and operating at 175% of capacity. In one you didn’t go to your locker because you didn’t have time if you wanted to get from one floor to the next (and you had to navigate around all the people, don’t forget), and in the other you didn’t go to your locker because you couldn’t make it through the halls. It was wall-to-wall people.

  149. I just looked it up, in fact. Fun fact – Lois Lowry attended the same school I graduated from! I had no idea! (Another fun fact – Frank McCourt taught at both schools I attended. But I already knew that.)

    The school has 2830 students right now in a building designed to house 1600. I don’t know, but I suspect it wasn’t much less crowded when I was there. YOU try making your way from one room to another in hallways with 1200 more people than are supposed to be there.

  150. The high school I attended had 15 minute breaks between classes, was not over capacity and there was plenty of time to ask questions, pee and get a drink from the (normally in good condition) water fountains. We weren’t allowed food or drink during class time.

    I moved to San Francisco in my late 20s where 8 glasses a day was considered almost essential. And though I never bought in to that, I did start drinking a lot more water, and I found it was great. And having the water available at my desk to drink was key to getting enough. After I started doing this I almost never got a headache and was far less congested during allergy season or colds.

    So I’m generally in favor of an increased availability of water.

    Having said that, unless your kid has a serious condition that makes it essential, asking the teacher to remind your kid to drink seems rude – she’s a teacher not a nanny. And while I think access to water is important and should be better than I had at high school, how that is worked out should be up to the teacher and school.

    I don’t really see that every school should follow one way of doing this. I thought Lenore’s point was more that it really isn’t their responsibility to be teaching kids to drink when thirsty. Even if they don’t drink enough (as I apparently didn’t) they’ll still survive. Which isn’t the same thing as saying good access to water is spoiling our kids and should be avoided.

  151. I think it’s funny how so many people are saying, on one hand, that kids need to learn how to take care of themselves and can figure out how to drink when thirsty, but on the other hand, that they and/or a teacher controls their childrens’ access to food and water. How can this in any way be okay? Drink when thirsty, eat when hungry, and use the bathroom when you need to. Any environment that denies these pretty basic human rights is inhumane. The fact that we have constructed so many environments that do doesn’t make it right, it just makes the world insane.

  152. @Lilly…I take issue with your statement that the only way to be free range is to be debt free. So..no matter what I do with my kids, because I have a mortgage I am really not free range? How on earth did you come up with that idea?

  153. Oops, my last post is to Mary Margaret. Don’t know where I got the name Lilly from!!

  154. I somewhat disagree with Lenore on this one, and agree with a number of the comments instead.

    While I don’t buy bottled water, I do provide a reusable stainless steel water bottle in my children’s lunchbox. I don’t tell their kindergarten teacher to remind them…they are used to drinking water periodically all day long. They need access and habit. They have both.

    NO ONE encouraged me to drink water when I was a child, and I have a myriad of health conditions that all come back to the fact that I am chronically under-hydrated. I need to remind myself and use tricks to do so–including a bottle of water on my desk at work (when I remember to put it there, which is part of the problem).

  155. So, should teachers be allowed to keep water at their desks?

    Since communal water fountains are such a fabulous idea, lets promote them for adults!

  156. Esther, this is exactly why I let my students have water bottles and even healthy snacks at their desk. I can’t make it from 5 am – 11:30 am for lunch without getting a huge head ache. So I keep healthy snacks at school.

    It wasn’t unusual for someone to walk in my room and see a child eating some fruit, or drinking water or milk. I even let the kids put their stuff that needed to be refrigerated in my fridge.

    I’ve had parents ask me to make sure their child was drinking water and going to the bathroom occasionally through out the years. But every single time it was a medical issue. Either they were on allergy meds that can cause dyhydration or they had infections (UTI usually sometimes kidney infections).

    A bigger issue is parents and kids claiming I NEVER let them go to the bathroom. I personally think that group bathroom breaks are a waste of time, and prime time for bullying. Instead I have a 1 boy 1 girl rule. 1 boy and 1 girl can be out of the room at a time. No one leaves while I directly teaching (I’m not big on sage on stage so not a large percentage of the time). I have hand signals that are sudtle enough that the principal doing a walk through thought a kid just got up and left. I had to comment back on the walk through paper work that the child had signaled me and I had said yes. (They make a b or w as a hand signal, and I point at them and twist my hand toward the door).

    If I have some special snowflakes that say I never let them leave – I make them start signing in and out. There is usually a pattern around a class they don’t like.

    When I was in the Tech lab I made everyone sign out to go to the bathroom and those coming in for independent work sign in. That was a CYA move on my part because I would have 1 class (21 kids) + 10 kids working independently on the computers. When we had a fire drill (once a month) or tornado drill (a couple times a year) I had to account for every child and were they came from. I have 700 students I need a list.

  157. My son is in kindergarten and we had to send a bottle of water to school every day this year. It drives me nuts! Apparently they don’t have a drinking fountain on their hall, so the kids would have to turn a corner to get a drink. I think it’s just weird. I also had to send a snack every day, despite the fact that my son’s class goes to the cafeteria for lunch every day at 11. God forbid the kids get a chance to work up an appetite. Must keep them full of snacks and water at all times, so they don’t die of starvation and thirst between 8 am and 11 am!

  158. Why don’t we leave all the plastic bottles and use aluminum bottles? It definitely lasts longer, is healthier, and environmentally friendly.

  159. House garden, I totally agree!

  160. I should add that my 8 year old has had to be re-hydrated with an IV 4 times over the last 2 years. I’d rather he drink water from a water bottle in school than have to have a needle stuck in his arm.

    About the aluminum bottles…yeah, they last long, I guess (although I’ve been using the same plastic one for 3 years now), but they make the water taste weird! Ick!

    I have relatives with horrid tap water. When I visit them, I always bring a bottle of water with me. I won’t even drink the coffee at their house. Their water tastes like Alka-Seltzer.

  161. @Lucy: Of course plastic water bottles are a tiny part of our total energy use. But (along with many other things) it’s an easy thing to get rid of. I’m trying to find all those low hanging fruit to save both money and energy. You don’t seem to think saving energy is a valid goal – perhaps you don’t have insulation either? And saying that landfills are cheaper than recycling misses the point: the true cost should be landfill cost + cost of manufacture, compared to recycling. For most plastic bottles recycling is considerably less than cost of manufacture. But if you have a reusable bottle, there’s no recycling cost either, so then the costs to compare are the one time cost of the reusable bottle versus the cost of manufacturing all the plastic bottles you would use in the long lifetime of the reusable bottle plus the cost of landfill for those bottles. (I personally don’t think recycling is a good route to advocate, because it depends on there being a market for the recycled product – re-use is much better).

  162. Modern aluminum bottles have a epoxy liner so the aluminum doesn’t come into contact with the water. Even better is stainless steel – absolutely zero taste. Plastic gives water a taste too, especially if it gets warm.

  163. Happy World environment day. I guess, you’ll like this article I recently wrote on the same context. Read- http://souravroy.com/2010/06/06/water-water-everywhere-and-not-a-drop-to-drink/

  164. While I hate the idea of bottled water in theory – I get a little defensive at the “bottled water is terrible and tap water in the US is perfectly safe to drink” argument that appears so regularly. I don’t drink untreated tap water where we live — hardly anyone in our town does. I hate to read “tap water is perfectly safe in the US so don’t drink bottled water ever.” MOST tap water is perfectly fine, but nothing is that black and white– our water has filled the EPA environmental standards repeatedly for industrial pollutants. We find out about the failed tests 3-6 months after the fact when the city sends a letter out. In addition, rust from our 100+ year old pipes turns the water dark brown after every big rainstorm, every time the reservoirs get changed, and a couple times a month for no clear reason. Yuck.

  165. You’re right about the tap water in the United States not always being safe, Jenn. In a city I previously lived in, in New York, it said right on the water bills: DO NOT DRINK THE WATER. The water in that city was not at all safe at that time. It’s better now, but then it wasn’t, and that was only about 15 years ago.

  166. People in my country carry bottle everywhere. I think it is a good habit.

  167. This post was great! It made me laugh long and loudly sitting in front of my computer screen. Rarely have I read anything so funny. Makes me wonder how I survived as a child in the 80’s. We drank from the water fountain, down the hall. And the end of the school year could get pretty warm without air-conditioning (this was CT).
    The comment by baby-paramedic, causally mentioning un-airconditioned classrooms in Australia, completely blew me away. They breed-em’ tough down there! Sometimes when I think about my fellow Americans, I wonder to myself, can we really be the people who settled the Great Plains?
    PS. Home-schooling is sounding better and better to me. I want my kids to have as normal a childhood as possible, and it seems that public schools having become ever more nutty.

  168. PPS. Can you imagine how many more requests for bathroom trips these teachers are going to be interrupted by?

  169. Hi! I see this page by coincidence and I like it.
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  170. this website surely contributes a deep thought for me today. thanks.

  171. In my opinion, making water freely available to kids (no need for adult help) from toddlerhood up increases their independence, not decreases it. We live in a very hot climate and are outside a ton (a good thing, right, free-rangers??) and I never have to remind my kids to drink, because they’ve always had access to water and they know how to listen to their body’s thirst signals. It is one more thing that they can regulate, not me. Telling kids when then can use the water fountain and when they can’t is what strikes ME as the overly controlling, nanny-state position.

    I do hate disposable bottles. At DD’s school, they only permit reusable ones.

  172. gophertortoise – “At DD’s school, they only permit reusable [water bottles].”

    I find school rules like this really awful. Much worse than not letting kids keep water at their desk (which I’m in favor of).

    I generally agree with your point about children being better off with free access to water. And I personally try to make sure my kids and I use refillable containers.

    But a school telling parents they can’t do something legal that does not impact the school’s ability to provide an education just seems over the line to me. It’s none of their business. Just like it’s not for them to decide what age children can appropriately walk to school on their own.

    I’m all for (a bit) of peer pressure and I don’t have a problem with schools including uncomfortable facts about our lifestyles in the curriculum. But that doesn’t mean they should have the right to actually ban something because it doesn’t fit into their idea of some kind of perfect citizenship or childhood. Families have their own reasons for the decisions they make, it’s not the schools place to usurp that role.

  173. Dear FRK, I have been sending a water bottle to school with my kid and my teacher acts like I’m crazy. Our school has no A/C and it’s been in the mid-to-high 90’s for over a week. The teachers at the school refuse to let the children go to the water fountain whenever they feel thirsty because they say it is too disruptive to the other kids. Besides, they argue, the kids get “plenty of opportunities” to use the water fountain. According to my child, what this means is they are allowed to stand in line for the fountain 3 times per day: after recesses and before lunch. The child behind you in line “counts you off” — the 2nd person in line counts to ten and the person drinking must stop and is not allowed to go to the end of the line, even if their thirst is not sated. Last fall during similar temperature extremes, the school called me three times in 10 days to leave work and pick up my child who developed a headache due to dehydration, a headache which was “cured” when the very thirsty child was offered unlimited access to water. So despite making my child ill, causing me to take time off work, and forcing me to lose income due to her draconian and heartless rules, my child’s classroom teacher seems to think I’m an idiot for sending a water bottle to school because clearly she knows better than I how to care for children and if she says they’ve had enough water, they are fully hydrated.

    Sometimes I think if public schools treated kids with an ounce of respect these days, helicopter parents wouldn’t be nearly so plentiful.

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  176. I didn’t comment when this was originally posted because I was too annoyed by it. However, I think you’re blowing this issue out of proportion. Who cares if the kids have water bottles at their desks? My daughter’s school asks them to bring water bottles so the kids can get a drink whenever they need it. I don’t think this makes her less independent, and frankly, I don’t know why anyone cares.

    Sure, we didn’t do that 30 years ago. But I carry a water bottle with me now too. My family lives in an arid climate (in the southwest) and it’s convenient to have water around when I want it. Why is that a problem, and who cares? Water shouldn’t be an issue.

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