I like school holidays, always have and always will. When I was younger, it was the sheer relief of not having to spend time in the classroom listening to the teachers drone on about onomatopoeias or the periodic table. Now that I have three children of my own, school holidays give us the freedom to do activities that term time weekends do not. Quite simply, when the children are on holiday, our life changes, as I do not go to work during the holidays either and therein lies the problem. As I work for a swim school that doesn’t operate throughout the year regardless of school holidays, that can potentially lead to problems with my students when starting the new term.
ONE STEP FORWARD, TEN STEPS BACK
Take for example the little boy I teach on a Monday. Max (not his real name) is a very well behaved, polite boy who I inherited off one of my work colleagues, but he is definitely lacking in confidence and is certainly a worrier. I have been teaching Max since September 2013 and when he first started coming to me, he would always come into the class crying for Mummy and if by the end of the lesson, I could stop him crying and maybe smile a bit, I felt that was an achievement. Gradually, after many trials and errors, Max started coming to the lesson with a smile on his face until the holidays started and he missed a couple of lessons due to being ill. That put him back to square one and we had to begin all over again.
Fast forward to February 2014 and the last Monday before half term. I actually managed to get Max to attempt swimming without a woggle, whilst smiling! This was a hard won achievement, but my main concern now was to keep Max positive during and after the half term break and not let him revert back to the quivering boy refusing to get off the steps. Hopefully this wouldn’t happen, as I have actively encouraged the parents and grandparents to take Max swimming outside of lessons to keep the momentum going, along with providing Max a copy of the tick sheet for the certificate we are working towards; simply so he knows what to expect. The key thing to remember whilst teaching little ones is to get the parents on board and to encourage continuity.
ABLE SWIMMERS' FITNESS CAN BE AFFECTED TOO
So what about the older ones, whose stamina might be affected by the smallest of breaks? If they want to, it is possible to print off sets from the internet (try www.100swimmingworkouts.com - it is in yards, but can be easily converted to metres) and take them to the local pool during the lane swimming times.
I know as a teacher, the holidays are beneficial to me. I don’t get the “oh no, I’ve got to go to work today” syndrome as I get the chance to take a break, regroup my ideas and feel refreshed. I think this benefits the
children I teach too. Children hate monotony and love to try new things, they want their teacher to be happy too, as this can only have a positive impact on their swimming experiences and a happy teacher can only mean a more sympathetic teacher to the child’s needs. The only downside from my point of view is that during my time off I don’t get paid. This isn’t too much of an issue most of the time, but the summer holidays can be financially hard, especially when I want to take my own children out on treats; but then nothing is completely perfect and I knew that when I started teaching.