Piano lessons, football, violin tuition or ballet. What do they all have in common? Or rather, what do swimming lessons not have in common with them? Well, swimming lessons is one of the few out-of-school activities that children have little or no choice in taking part, whether your child loves it or not.
Why is this? With an estimated 400-600 drownings each year, swimming is, quite rightly, viewed as an essential life skill. As much as wee Jimmy loves his ballet lessons, they probably aren’t going to save his life. And Sasha won’t be facing any violin demanding death monsters any time soon. Despite this, swimming is probably one of the least practiced sports (at a learn to swim level) outside of the professional tuition environment.
As parents ourselves, we understand the struggle. Most of us don’t have swimming pools in our back garden for a start and “I’m not listening to you, you’re not my swimming teacher”. Yep, we understand.
That’s why we’ve put together this handy little guide, for when you do make it to the pool.
1. I’m not listening to you, you’re not my swimming teacher!
Don’t try to be, it probably won’t work. Instead just have fun with your kids at the pool because that’s why they’ve gone swimming with you. They’re probably not there to have a lesson from mum and dad. Children will naturally and subconsciously practise the movements they learn from their weekly lessons due to repetitive practices with teachers. Just being in the water and splashing around will help to consolidate those skills.
2. Show me how good you are…
Kids love to know that they’re good at things and love to show off. In fact, it’s not just kids that like to hear what they’re good at; adults do too! That’s why we use this handy little trick on our teachers and kids in the lessons and it works like a charm. Next time you’re at the pool with your child, say “show me how good you are at…” for the skill you’d like to see them practise. You’ll be surprised how well they respond to the challenge. Even if poor wee Jimmy isn’t great at it, tell him he is!
3. What should I work on?
If you’re lucky enough to be in SwimEasy lessons, you’ll have our Passport to Successful Swimming. If you’re not in our lessons (yes, we do judge you), you’ll hopefully have some form of progress marker to hand.
You don’t need to take it to the pool with you, but do have a quick peak at it before you head to the pool. With this information, you’ll know exactly what they can do and what they’re aiming for next. It’s the perfect way to gauge progress and there’s even a sticker section for parents to fill in! Why not boost the sense of achievement by marking off the Passport to say you’ve practiced a skill?
4. Role Reversal
Instead of being the teacher, try encouraging your child to teach you what they have been learning in recent weeks. This is always a lot of fun and it will give your child a chance to show off their new knowledge. By doing this, they’ll have to think exactly how the swimming movements work in order to explain it properly to you, further implanting it in their mind. This is also a lot of fun because mum and dads can be tricky to teach!
5. If all else fails, just have fun
Don’t worry too much if it’s not going to plan, just keep smiling and have fun.
Swimming isn’t a natural activity for humans; we’ve evolved to be land animals. If you took a week off from walking, you wouldn’t forget how to walk. However, a week off swimming, especially while learning the skill, is a long time to forget what you’re supposed to be doing. Think about how you feel getting back to a working routine after a holiday.
Even if you’re not working on anything specific outside of the lessons, simply spending some time in the pool will be beneficial. Your child will develop a more natural feel for the water meaning it won’t feel too unusual in the lessons.