Parents Need To Be Educated Too!

PYC 4/5 Swim Lessons

Lately I have been thinking that it would be a good idea for parents to have a tutorial on their children’s swimming lessons.  Not for those in the top groups, but for those who are just making their first tentative steps into the world of swimming.

At the swim school that I work for we use the STA certificate system and except for one or two small tasks that I don’t like, I get on well with the tick sheets very well.  The way that the certificates are structured give the children a very good grounding in the basics of swimming and prepare them for the advanced skills later on down the line.

However, this is where the problem lies, parents think that if their child can swim doggy paddle from A to B, that they should be put into the group which are swimming without aides.  Admittedly, I don’t seem to have this problem on a weekday teaching session where the groups do not follow each other progressively and the children tend to stay at a particular time, but on a Saturday the lessons do.  There are seven groups on a Saturday morning and those groups start with the STAnley series and go right through to the Shark series of certificates.  That is sixteen levels of skills in seven classes, with each of those sixteen levels having ten individual tasks to complete per level – a lot of work! The first four swimming lessons are given completely over to

the STAnley series, whilst the Goldfish, Angelfish and Shark series each have their own session.

I have had three complaints recently that a child can swim without aides and why are they not progressing.  These children can swim (on their fronts) and I wouldn’t deny that at all, but they cannot sustain it for more than five or so metres.  The other reason why the children haven’t moved on is because they haven’t accomplished swimming or more specifically, floating on their backs, which I see as a must for any beginner to move onto the next group (STAnley 5 to STAnley 6).  By the time children have completed the second group, they are expected to swim comfortably on their front and in the very least, float on their backs.  When the children are ready to move onto the fifth group (Goldfish series), I expect they to swim a recognisable back crawl and front crawl, yes it won’t be perfect, but anyone looking at it could say yes, that is back crawl or front crawl.  They also need to be able to put their faces in the water for a sensible amount of time and jump in independently, both of these can be major stumbling blocks in a pool where children cannot touch the bottom.

I want parents to understand that swimming isn’t just about travelling from A to B without aides, it’s about feeling relaxed in the water and trusting the water to help you achieve the goals set. I could move a child up as soon as they start travelling through the water without a woggle, but they would struggle in a group where the warm up alone is two lengths of a fifteen metre pool and they would get disheartened extremely quickly and also would be in an unsafe situation. Parents want their children to be safe in the water and that is the main reason why they sign up for swimming lessons and this is covered in the curriculum. The curriculum also needs to cater for the child who is aiming to swim competitively and for that to be achieved, swimming teachers need to be allowed to teach the children and their parents the curriculum!

Learning To Dive Can Be Achieved In The Learning To Swim Certificates

2015 In Review

So how did 2015 go for you then?  Did you sign up for those swimming lessons that you promised yourself?  Or did you make that transition from chlorine pool to the freedoms of outdoor swimming?  Maybe you’ve actually achieved something without actually realising it – I think I have.

The first blog that I wrote for 2015, I wanted to improve my knowledge on drills for my top sets and I think I have, but more importantly I am becoming

more understanding of the diversity of my students and their individual needs.  I have always enjoyed teaching the older kids in particular as it isn’t just about teaching them the intricacies of swimming, it’s about the banter that you can have with them (that isn’t possible with the little ones), I find I can be more myself with the older ones and more importantly, it’s about watching them grow.  I moan at them, they moan at me, I push them hard, they moan at the set and I just smile at them! They are fun, noisy and sometimes a little uncontrollable.

On the whole, the kids in my top set I have known for a number of years, so I know more or less what makes them tick and I know their parents reasonably well and what to expect of them.  There is a mutual respect and on occasion they come to me with their problems that are affecting them outside of swimming.  I’ve learnt that listening to a swimmer and then dealing with the information, results in a happier child and if the problem is concerning swimming, hopefully a better understanding of what is expected from each party.

Until the beginning of last year, I had only taught children that do not have special educational needs.  I have briefly taught adults with learning disabilities in the past, but some of the children that I have met over the course of the year, have been a far bigger challenge than the adults.  My patience has been severely tested with some children in particular, but the lesson that I can take away is that you need to adapt to the child’s needs and cross each hurdle as you come across it.  It could, in fact, take you a whole term to achieve a push and glide for example.

Reflecting back on my own personal swimming, in all honesty it didn’t really happen. I didn’t get to go open water swimming, but that’s life.  That doesn’t mean to say that I haven’t achieved anything new this year, not just in swimming.  If you didn’t achieve your in aims in swimming over the past year, don’t get disheartened, focus on what you have achieved outside of swimming and there is always this year!