The Evolution Of My Course Outlines

The other day a friend of mine posted something to Facebook that caught my attention. A student at Ryerson had posted a Policy on Children in the Class that was listed in their course outline.

Over the years I’ve written numerous course outlines, modifying and adding to them as the situation warranted. Last fall, for example, I added a section on roles and responsibilities as well as a code of conduct to ensure that students understood that we were all responsible for the tone of our classroom.

I also added a section on health and wellness that, along with contact information about on-campus resources, included the statement “If you are sick, heartbroken, or exhausted, go home. Work is not more important than your health” – something I first heard and borrowed from Dr. Max Liboiron of Memorial University.

These new sections were added to the standard template that I currently use for my course outlines, and now share page real estate with such things as the course description, course deliverables and due dates, standards for assignments and exams, academic integrity, accessibility, and the timeline of course topics.

However, I can honestly say that I have never thought to include a policy on Children in the Classroom. And even though I’m not a parent, I feel a little silly for not having considered the case where a parent might be faced with the situation where they are without childcare. I also am not aware if any of my students have children, or ever have been in this situation. Of course, without an explicit policy, it may be the case that some of the students have been in this situation, but assumed they couldn’t bring their child to class.

Fortunately, someone at Ryerson has taken the initiative to draft such a policy for their course outline. I’m not sure who the professor is, but I am going to do my best to identify them to see if I can borrow this policy as well. The policy is rewritten below from the Facebook post. If I can’t identify the professor, I’m going to take a stab at drafting my own version of the policy – because even if no one ever needs to use it, it requires very little effort on my part to add it to the outline, and even less effort to teach with a baby in the classroom.

Policy on Children in Class

Currently, the university does not have a formal policy on children in the classroom. The policy described here is just a reflection of my own beliefs and commitments to student, staff and faculty parents.

  1. All exclusively1 breastfeeding babies are welcome in class as often as is necessary.
  2. For older children and babies, I understand that unforeseen disruptions in childcare often put parents in the position of having to miss class to stay home with a child. While this is not meant to be a long-term childcare solution, occasionally bringing a child to class in order to cover gaps in care is perfectly acceptable.
  3. I ask that all students work with me to create a welcoming environment that is respectful of all forms of diversity, including diversity in parenting status.
  4. In all cases where babies and children come to class, I ask that you sit close to the door so that if your little one needs special attention and is disrupting learning for other students, you may step outside until their need has been met.
  5. Finally, I understand that often the largest barrier to completing your coursework once you become a parent is the tiredness many parents feel in the evening once children have finally gone to sleep. While I maintain the high expectations for all students in my classes regardless of parenting status, I am happy to problem-solve with you in a way that makes you feel supported as you strive for school-parenting balance.


1 Based on some excellent feedback, I’m going to remove the word exclusively from this bullet. As pointed out, some parents aren’t able to exclusively breast feed. It also excludes fathers who may need to feed their baby.


  1. Hi Dan. I reshared this on my Facebook since it resonated so much with me (and several of my faculty colleagues, who are also new parents). It was pointed out that perhaps “exclusively” could be removed from the first point since there are many new mothers who would like to breastfeed but for one reason or another are not able to do it “exclusively.” Despite the advances in baby formula, there is still a surprisingly amount of stigma and guilt associated with not being able to breastfeed exclusively.

    Otherwise… yeah, I am adding this to my syllabi for next semester.

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