“You have the patience of a saint!”
My clients are always saying. Being strict, sweet and loving,is my no-nonsense way,of teaching swimming. But having fun is my goal. As a single mother of four children, I like to joke with my family that I speak three languages Body, Baby, and English. With over 30 years of teaching swimming, crying lets me know you are still breathing. The conversations I have with my students is the best part of my day. They come up with some many different ways to get out of the skill that is challenging them. The mindset, that using positive language and no rhetorical questions to make learning to swim easier. For example : Johnny are you ready to get in the pool? to Johnny your lesson is starting in 5 minutes let’s get ready. Leaving the question open ,gives the student a chance to say “No” which makes it’s harder for everyone.
When teaching swimming,I start with these five basic skills that are necessary to survive
1. Holding on to the wall “Monkey walking”, or “Crab walking “are excellent ways to teach kids the idea that they can get to the stairs or climb out at the wall. I love using floating toys on the side.
2. After wall walking, we work on climbing out of the pool at the wall. Elbow, Elbow tummy, knee are the instructions. Once they climb out they sit down with their feet in the water.
3. I tell them we are going to sit dives and instruct students to put their tummy on their legs and fall in with arms pointing to the bottom. Or standing jumps where they hook their toes to the edge and jump in feet first, going under the water and poping up taking a breathe swimming back to the wall.
4. Then either put their feet on the bottom and bounce back to the wall or take a breath and swim back to the wall. Bouncing off the bottom to the wall is another skill we use a lot in my beginners class.
5. Last but not least, back floating/stroke is the cornerstone of survival for non-swimmers. Also, in my opinion, the toughest skill teach anyone. The feeling of water in someone ears is very uncomfortable along with laying flat on top of the water.
Many first lessons end with a little crying,
Seeing where the comfort zone ends, when teaching swimming is how we learn. My motto is you learn faster when you cry, it’s not my goal to have kids cry. Kids don’t know what to do when you give them permission to cry. Usually, I just don’t end a lesson when kids cry, I will do something different and come back to more challenging task later. Talking to kids about their feelings of fight or fright is very powerful. That feeling is there for safety I tell them. This is your chance to be brave. Their is balance between fear and brave, that’s why we always work on the same skills and do everything at least 10 times.In the end 20 lessons or so they never even remember they cried at their first lesson, I love parents to video the first few lessons, add music if the kids cry I joke. Kids don’t know how they look when they swim they only know how they feel. so watching their lessons back helps the brain connect visually, which is how most kids learn. Hope these hints help you and your family swim safe.