Taking your child to swimming lessons is a parenthood rite of passage.
We’ve dabbled a bit in the swim lesson arena before with our oldest son. First up was a parent/tot swim class at a local rec center where he didn’t really learn a thing, but it was fun. We didn’t do anything more until recently, when we started swim lessons at SafeSplash Swim School. By then, we were battling a common swim lesson phenomenon: fear.
My little guy didn’t like putting his head in the water and when we went swimming as a family, he wanted to be held the whole time. On the morning of our first swim lesson at SafeSplash, my boy was afraid and didn’t want to go. It was a good opportunity to teach him an important lesson:
Courage is fear that has said its prayers. – Anne Lamott
From the moment we walked into SafeSplash, we knew it would be a wonderful place for him. First of all, the facility is small and welcoming, with a lobby/waiting room with games, books, and a tv for siblings (a huge plus when I had a just turned two-year-old to entertain), and big glass windows so parents can watch the swim class. As he bravely went in with tears in his eyes, my eyes welled up a little, too.
However, we were both quickly blown away by how wonderful the SafeSplash experience is.
We love how the class sizes are small (4 max), and they start gently with fun warm ups. They do other exercises to help kids learn how to swim, using language that they can understand. For example they “scoop ice cream” when learning how to paddle their arms, and “chicken, airplane, soldier” to help kids remember how to move on their back. They also throw in really fun experiences for the kids, too, like “motorboat” rides on a giant float.
His teacher, Ms. Allison, is calm and friendly and has the perfect balance of reassuring kids and pushing them to do more. She says over and over to the kids, “trust yourself.” Yes to this! We need to trust that our bodies can do what they were made to do, especially when kids are learning a new skill, like swimming. I love how she instills confidence in my boy, even when he continues to get a little nervous before swim lessons.
Parents watch from the big glass waiting room windows, and this is a good idea. We still watch everything, but I’ve found that kids tend to do better when parents aren’t in the room (of course, if that is something you feel like you really need, they are willing to work with you). Once a month though, the parents come in the last 10 minutes of class to do “Splash-N-Tell,” a swim class version of Show and Tell, if you will. Here the teacher explains what they are working on with your specific child, how they are improving, and what they want to work on in the coming weeks. Then, the kids “show off” some things they have been learning.
I also really appreciate that they take time to teach safety in the pool, and what to do if they fall in. They practice moving onto their back to float and yelling, “HELP!” As a mom of multiple children, this safety piece makes me nervous to go to the pool with all the kids by myself. I’ll feel MUCH better this summer knowing that my oldest knows what to do in an emergency.
After a few weeks of classes (and maybe with some bribing with Starbucks cake pops after class), my son really started improving. I was so impressed! This nervous little boy was all of a sudden moving across the pool on his back. On his own!