I ended my last blog #16 Emma with, “It takes a village, people.” Well, I had the pleasure of teaching Chase, Project Participant #17, with his wonderful grandma in the water as well. Nancy is a wonderful woman- mom, grandma, wife, teacher, friend. She was visiting from Oregon when Chase and I swam together, so I asked her to participate, as she swims a lot with Chase and his older brother, Preston.
It’s so interesting to me when parents tell me that they attend swim lessons and the instructors tell them NOT to practice the skills learned in the pool. NOT to practice with anyone besides the instructor. Really? Won’t practicing simply reinforce the skills and help the child progress? Perhaps that’s the problem- they will be out of the swim program faster, which means the loss of a customer, which means the loss of money. I certainly hope this is not true.
Another one that always gets me is when parents say things like, “Oh, he can’t get his arms out of the water and learn side-breathing until he’s six.” The mother of a four-year-old boy that had been in swim lessons three times per week since the age of 6 months told me that as I watched her son doggie paddle. I taught him how to side breathe in 15 minutes. I don’t put age limits on swimming skills- if a kid is capable of doing something in the water, then why not do it?! Learning to swim involves so many skills at so many different levels, so I progress swimmers as they are ready individually.
I’m sharing this information because so many parents out there don’t know what to look for when it comes to swimming lessons. Many parents I speak to don’t realize the importance of learning to swim, especially if they didn’t grow up swimming. Having been raised in San Diego, it was not optional. In fact, it should not be optional anywhere. Here’s why…
Chase doesn’t have the opportunity to swim much outside of lessons, but when he does I can certainly tell that he has been practicing. When Chase spends a week with grandma, it’s awesome! He’s a ball of energy and swimming is a wonderful way to get the wiggles out 🙂 Nancy is an educator as well and she’s a very warm, patient teacher. Chase listens to her and trusts her, so of course he should practice with her. And what a great way to bond with grandma! Here is some of the footage of Chase’s “It takes a village” lesson…
Chase is a pleasure to work with and I always look forward to his sweet smile and goofy dances. Sometimes I challenge him more than he would like me to. And after, I create games so that swimming remains to be a positive experience. Every child is different and it’s so important to recognize that as an educator. What works for one child, may completely backfire on another. What works for Chase is fun and family- so that’s how we roll.
Just as every child is different, so is every swim program. While I can’t cover everything, here are a few tips for choosing a swim instructor/ swim program:
1. Find a certified instructor: There are so many learn-to-swim programs out there and it can be a bit overwhelming. I recommend finding a swim school from the United States Swim School Association Directory. If there isn’t a recognized school in your area, check your local YMCA or city parks and recreation department. Yelp is always a great resource as well.
2. Reputation: About 75% of my clients come to me by word-of-mouth. Ask around and find out where friends are learning to swim. If it’s a good program, they will surely rave about it and give you the information.
3. Check the conditions of the facility: Is it clean? Safe? Is the water warm? Water temperature makes a HUGE difference. Kids get cold very easily, and if they are cold, they are uncomfortable. I was just reading a swim school’s website that says it perfectly: “Because of the liquid medium, a pool feels about 20 degrees cooler than air temperature to a child. A 90 degree pool is like 70 degree air. The focus should be on learning not on shivering and blue lips.” The water should be at least 85 degrees, warmer for infants.
4. Watch a lesson: Take your child to the pool and watch other kids in lessons. Are they smiling? Happy? Ask the parents how they like the lessons. Are their children progressing?
5. Ask questions: Any good program will be happy to assist you and answer any questions you have.
6. Read the fine print: Before signing anything, make sure you understand the policies and procedures for the swimming lessons. Is there a registration fee? If so, is it a one time fee or annual? Is there a minimum amount of lessons you must sign up for?
7. Go with your instinct: If you’re not comfortable, don’t sign up.
If you would like advice about a program or you have a question, please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll help if I can.