I am a complete and utter hypocrite. Why is that at I hear you ask, because I always said that I would never teach my own children to swim and yet, here I am teaching/coaching my eldest in the fitness class at our local swimming club and about to embark on teaching my two youngest after Christmas. It was never meant to be this way, but due to circumstances life has thrown at us, this is how we have ended up.
The first time I taught India was when she was seven and she was in a group of swimming lessons that I had inherited from another swimming teacher. Give her her due, she listened and tried her best to be technically accurate to the best of her ability, but I did get a lot of questions that I felt were unnecessary and probably wanting to go into a level of detail that was probably too deep. A few weeks after taking over the class, India got the opportunity to swim at the local swim club that I volunteer at and she jumped at the chance as it gave her more opportunities, such as diving off blocks.
TOO MUCH ALIKE!
Fast forward to September 2013 and India was not happy in her class and it was affecting her swimming. The final straw was when club politics got in the way and conflicted with what India wanted to achieve with her swimming – simply to be with her friends and my husband and I pulled her out after a major meltdown in the sport centre’s café. After being diagnosed with stomach migraines, I re-enrolled her into the fitness class that I took at the same club in the hope that it would help combat the stress that was causing them. If I’m honest, the experience hasn’t been a pleasurable one so far and quite stressful. I don’t feel that India is putting in the effort (stopping every length to fiddle with goggles etc., swimming speed is very slow) and argues with everything I tell her. Admittedly, I was completely unprofessional at one point and told her that her front crawl kick reminded me of a dying insect (I have since profusely apologised and have not repeated since, in the hope that in years to come we can laugh about it). India, I believe, has two factors against her swimming: 1) her confidence and enthusiasm has been dented by what the swim club expected of her at such a young age and 2) she is like me in the fact she hates being told what to do and cannot separate my two roles of teacher and mother. Luckily, I have my husband who is willing to take up the parent role and act as the negotiator/pacifier and I think it is beginning to work.
EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT
So what can I expect after Christmas when my two sons start swimming in classes that I take/on poolside for? I am hoping that Sam will benefit from swimming in a deeper pool, but worry that he might be distracted at first from having mummy teaching another class whilst he is being taught; but he knows his new teacher and the relaxed environment will help him. I recently have had the pleasure of teaching Luke, which was a completely different experience to teaching his sister. He was eager to please and did what I wanted him to do. The other little boy that I teach on a regular basis greatly benefitted from having Luke temporarily in the class, as he saw Luke as competition and the improvement in his front crawl was off the scale! I hope this will continue, as it will greatly benefit his swimming and his learning experience.
They say that blood is thicker than water and the bond between parent and child is always going to be in the way when it comes to teaching. Whether the child thinks the parent doesn’t know what they are talking about (a common one as the child gets older), or the parent is either too hard or soft on their own child. Other parents or pupils might take umbrage to the relationship too. How hard should you be on your child when you need to tell them off? What might be acceptable at home could possibly cross the line on the poolside. How would your child react if they hear other pupils or parents talking about you behind your back? Quite naturally, they could become very upset. On the other hand, your children could help bring you down to the level of the other children and help you appreciate more their point of view. Children can be brutally honest in their opinions and this can be put to good use. Opinions on whether you should teach your own child, is definitely split down the middle and at the end of the day, you and your child are the only ones that can make the decision right for you.