Meet me where I am.

May 16, 2016

 

As a primary school teacher, I was taught how important it is to assess children before you start to teach a topic. If you pitch a lesson too high or too low, some children will be left bored and others will be struggling to keep up. Everything should be at the right level to keep children motivated and inspired, and it's important to adapt the way you teach to suit every level within the class.

 

It's exactly the same at swimming. Children come to the pool with such a range of experiences, even when they are tiny babies. Some children have been to the pool and have enjoyed splashy baths from the word go - for other families, time in the water just hasn't been a priority - some parents are nervous around water themselves. Some children have been to other swim schools, where they may have had plenty of brilliant experiences - and others may have been put off by one too many submersions.

 

As a teacher, you get used to working out where a pupil is (and where a parent is) on their learn to swim journey. You get used to showing parents little adaptations to make sure that each activity is just challenging enough for their child. 

 

You also get used to spotting when a parent and child are at different points in learning to swim. Sometimes, parents are pushing a child ahead and looking for big results - and the child is left spluttering in the adult's wake. Some parents aren't willing to encourage their child quite enough, even though the child is ready to progress.

 

As parents, it's important that we really see our children and babies. We need to meet them at their level. That can mean that we have to take a step back and notice that our child has been so busy being raced through the class and pushed a step too far, that they haven't really had a chance to enjoy the water during the lesson. If your child is looking a little bewildered and water-logged, things may be moving too quickly - remember, the early days are about building water confidence and positive associations and there will be so many years to tick boxes, learn strokes and gain water skills.

 

Sometimes, seeing your child means taking a little risk together in the water - whether it's a gentle dive or even a free swim. We learn when we move just outside our comfort zone and although it's difficult to know when to make that little push further on, we do need to occasionally take a small risk.

 

It's worth really watching your child in the water and trying to deduce what you can from their body language. You want them to be relaxed and at ease, and there should be plenty of opportunities to smile, make eye contact and connect during your lesson together, whether it's during a submersion, a supported swim or even just while you watch the water splash during a song. Tune out your expectations, tune out any comparisons you're tempted to make with other children in the pool, and tune in to your child - their swimming will come on in leaps and bounds as a result.

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