What did I learn this week?

Summer swimming

The drop-in playgroup that I normally take C to is not running for the month of August, so I signed her up for two weeks of daily swimming lessons at one of the local recreation centres. She has taken some preschool classes before, but none without a parent, and this class is supposed to be a “transitional class”, where the parents participate the first week, and then, all going well, the kids attend with just the instructor during the second week. All I can say is that, after 3 days, things are probably not going to play out that way. Why? Easy – C does not want to do the group activity, even when she is the only child in the group!

There are really a couple of problems here. First, is the instructor, who really does not seem to have either a plan or the ability to be flexible in picking an activity for the kids. I think it is just that she is not all that comfortable with little kids – she may be great with kids that are a bit older. Second, C doesn’t like to be told what to do and when – she just wants to do her own thing. Third, the instructor really does not do a good job of engaging with either C, or the other little girl in the class. Maybe this is related to what I have said above – the instructor may just not feel comfortable or know how to engage children of this age.

However, to be fair to C’s view of things, it also did not help that today the instructor kept calling her “Catherine” and tried to grab her arm in the pool to do an assisted float. This resulted in C trying to pull away, losing her footing and ultimately ending up under water. Not a good trust-building exercise. C refused to engage with the instructor for the rest of the class.

Now, if you are thinking that C is just going to have to learn to basically do what she is told to do by the instructor, let me just stop you right there. She is only 3 years old, so I don’t expect to be able to reason with her about this. In addition, why should she have to go along with the group if she does not want to? My view is that this just means group lessons are not for her, at least not right now. The reality is that she is comfortable in the water, and I don’t want to make it unpleasant for her by forcing her to go along with an activity that she is not keen on. Kids learn best if you just let them focus on the activity when they are ready and really want to do it. Forcing them does not teach them anything in the long run except to mistrust you and in all likelihood to dislike the activity you wanted them to participate in.

In any event, she is not learning anything in these lessons that I can’t teach her, and in fact, have been teaching her since she was a baby. That is, how to get in and out of the pool safely, getting comfortable in the water, getting her to blow bubbles, learning to float and kick and so on. So, after this session of swimming lessons is finished, I think I’ll just continue with what I have been doing and taking her to the pool myself rather than trying to get her to go along with any more “organized lessons”.

4 Responses to “Summer swimming”

  1. We abandoned organized lessons after our last session ended in May. It’s too much of a crap shoot in terms of what instructor you’ll get, and Elliot reacted much the same way you describe with C. So it wasn’t fun for him or for Greg. We’ll try them again, but for now we’re just trying to take him to the pool on our own.

  2. When I was a swim coach the best I learnt was to always kept it fun, and this goes double for kids.

    As a lifeguard, I believe the most important things to teach your kid(s) about water is:
    1) it is ok if you can not touch the bottom – ie don’t panick.
    2) what to do if you can’t touch the bottom – ie on your back and swim (elementary back stroke – kind of like breast but on your back. Just kicking does not work – I have seen heaps of people kick like Jaws was after them and go nowhere)
    3) what to do when they get to the a lane line or edge of the pool (hand over hand along the side / line until they come to stairs or shallow end)

    Kids die every summer from drowning in pools, teach them to not panick and how to get out. Of course, a life jacket and a watchful parent are better but these are not always in place.

  3. Thanks for the tips Rod – this is GREAT advice!

  4. so happy this is one of those comments I stumbled upon tonight. We just recently started talking to our three yr old Bella (who is a very good swimmer for three) about not panicking… great tips – Thanks Rod.

Leave a Reply