On April 15, 2019, La Petite Baleen celebrated 40 years of teaching...Read More
With more than 40 years in the learn-to-swim world, we have seen it all when it comes to methods of education and contraptions for “keeping kids safe” in and around water. And every year, as summer approaches, Facebook and other social media outlets help us remember that not all of the options are great ones.
Rely on inflatable water wings. Here’s one of our favorite video clips about how inflatable water wings are just more trouble than they’re worth:
In all seriousness, inflatable water wings are not at all dependable for keeping your child safe in the water. They can easily deflate and/or slip off of your child, which may lead to a distressed swimmer situation or worse.
If you are in need of a floatation device for moving water (lakes, rivers, streams, or ocean swimming OR wading), we suggest a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket. While not great for swimming – they force students into a vertical position, which is not conducive to actual swimming – they are a dependable safety device when fitted properly for your child’s weight.
Buy into any promises of “drown-proofing” or claims that your child will be “water safe.” No child is ever completely drown-proof, or water safe.
Insist on the Safer 3 method of keeping kids safer around water.
- Safer Response: parental supervision, making sure caregivers know how to swim and can perform CPR
- Safer Water: barriers for all pools, hot tubs, fountains, etc…don’t forget to empty dog bowls, buckets, etc!
- Safer Kids: regular, year-round swim lessons can give your child a healthy respect for the water while teaching them how to hold their breath which can buy you precious seconds!
Use tubes around your baby’s neck to allow them to float. This is another video that pops up on Facebook every few months: https://youtu.be/HZuVa6sHWwY. Sure, they don’t seem distressed, but the neck float is hardly serving a purpose. Plus, they’re missing the second-most important thing to them: touch.
Hold and love on your baby when in water. Babies THRIVE with eye- and skin-to-skin contact. Eye contact is how babies know they exist. Skin-to-skin contact helps them feel safe and secure. Babies need that connection to their adult humans in order to grow and learn.
Jump into private lessons. This may not be the best sales pitch for a business, but there are really only a few instances when private lessons are ideal: Students who are close to their next ribbon or who want to fine-tune their strokes before moving onto a swim team can benefit from a few private lessons. Or kids who, for safety reasons, need a teacher’s undivided attention. Some children with developmental delays or sensory processing issues cannot be mainstreamed safely, so private lessons are the safest option for them. Semi-private lessons are also a great way to go for parents of multiples (or two under 3) who don’t have another adult who can get into the water.
Go with the group. Kids have fun when they swim together! Peer pressure can be helpful in getting students to continue to progress and burnout and boredom are much more common in private lessons (no turn-waiting and talking to a grown up for 30-minutes isn’t always fun). Also, swimming lessons are a great place to learn other important life lessons like waiting your turn, following directions and good sportsmanship. Plus, when kids are having fun and playing with other kids, even their language becomes more advanced.
So what should you look for in a swim school? Great question – we’d love to tell you!
Clean facilities – Covid or not, you want to walk into a building that looks and smells clean.
Kid-centered – yes, we teach teens and adults, but our focus is kids and our curriculum is based on how kids learn. And how do kids learn? Through play, of course. Places where toys are used as learning tools show that they understand child development.
Well-trained Teachers – our teachers go through about 40 hours of training before they begin teaching on their own. That includes time in and out of the water, student-teaching with a mentor, and learning from other experienced teachers by shadowing and observing. If you’re not sure how teachers are trained at your swim school, definitely ask!