On April 15, 2019, La Petite Baleen celebrated 40 years of teaching...Read More
We strive to make learning to swim fun. Throughout our program, we incorporate fun in order to keep students engaged. Teachers lead students through a variety of learning activities disguised as games. Here are just a few ways that we apply this in our program:
Baby & Toddler
These classes are all about fun, socialization and water acclimation. From beginning to end, Baby & Me classes are full of singing, splashing and fun. There is plenty of learning happening here as well. We sing songs on the carpet, including tummy time which can improve neck strength and tummy strength. We practice overcoming separation anxiety when they spend time with their teachers, and start to introduce equipment which gets them more comfortable with being independent swimmers.
Toddlers work towards being as independent as they can safely be while in the pool with their parent or caregiver. Swimming skills really begin to come together here as kids work on paddles, kicks and improving breath control. We use the motorboat to help students learn to wait their turn, as well as practice their sit jumps. We sometimes use obstacle courses to create a fun pattern for kids to swim through which encourages a more independent swim and gives teachers the ability to adjust to students’ abilities.
Talk about fun! Level 1 classes are full of fun and games. We might start the class by singing “If You’re Happy and You Know it” on the steps. We use this to review paddles, kicks, and balloon faces, and to start the class out with some fun! We put tubes on and play clean up, and do animal swims through the hoops to inspire independent swims. We water the flowers, and the teachers, and the students with watering cans to practice balloon faces. We do superman jumps to the carpet to work on initiating the swim and getting into a horizontal position.
This level can be a bit repetitive, so we work lots of fun into the lesson to keep kids interested. Having kids lay on a carpet and push it across the pool with their kicks can help them get a productive kick as fins are being weaned. To teach proper breathing, we have students pop their balloons above the water, and then make a new one before putting it back down. For back swims, we have them “wave at the fishes” to get them to mimic sculling hands in the water. For advanced level 2 students we may have them do a toy chase, motorboat, or a short carpet swim to introduce no-goggle swim as a future skill.
More creative activities and imagery happen in Level 3 as students work on deep-end and underwater skills. Your child may become a mermaid or pirate, diving down for treasure. They turn into dolphins, dancing in the deep water when learning how to tread. We introduce and hone a long-legged kick by having students listen to the fish for side kicks, and boil the water with their toes for back kicks. You may see teachers utilizing motorboat, carpet swims, or silly jumps to work on no-goggle swim. We may even play basketball with no goggles, and incorporate lots of splashing, to get students used to the idea of swimming with no goggles.
Level 4 & 5
This is where the serious business of stroke development begins, but it’s hardly devoid of fun. These are still little kids after all. In this level we use fun language as we work on the butterfly kick (wiggle butts), breaststroke kick (frog kicks), and sidestroke kick (scissor kicks). We use silly terms like “listen to the fishes and look at the fishes” for freestyle breathing, or “paint the ceiling” for backstroke arms. For racing dives students will shoot through a hoop like an arrow or dive through the monster mouth.
As you can see, many of the “fun” and “games” we use here at La Petite Baleen have the ulterior motive of teaching swimming skills. This helps keep the students engaged and interested in their classes. It is our hope that by using these techniques we will end up with La Petite Baleen graduates who are not only comfortable and confident swimmers but have also developed a love of swimming that will last them a lifetime.