HOW ARE SURVIVAL SWIMMING LESSONS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SWIMMING PROGRAMS?
My primary focus is to teach your child to become a productive swimmer and floater in any depth of water. The goal of these lessons is that your child becomes an "aquatic problem solver," so that she is able to use her new skills in many different aquatic settings and situations if ever needed. Although NO ONE is ever “drown proof,” completing my program will greatly increase your child's chance of surviving an aquatic accident, even when fully clothed! Additionally, I hope to help your child build a strong foundation for a lifelong love of the water.
WHAT WILL MY CHILD BE ABLE TO LEARN? WILL HE/SHE ACTUALLY LEARN TO SWIM?
YES! If your child is walking, he/she will learn to swim, not in the way that Michael Phelps does but in a way that will make most people say, “Wow, that kid is a fish!” Children older than one year old (who are walking well) are taught to swim with their face in the water, and when they sense the need for air, to rollback onto their back to float. After resting and breathing, they will roll over and continue to swim to the nearest point of safety. A child can perform this swim-float-swim sequence to reach safety in a survival situation. Children can also perform this sequence in their clothes. If a child does not see a way out of her predicament, she will roll over onto her back and maintain a back float position. This buys the parent time in the event of an accident. This same sequence is most often used for fun at the pool. The confidence and self-esteem of these young swimmers is truly amazing! Teaching your 1-3 year old the swim-float-swim sequence will take approximately 6 weeks of 10-minute private lessons, 4 days per week (children 4-6 years old typically take 3 weeks since they have 20-minute lessons).
If your child is not yet walking (usually 6-12 months old), she will learn the basic survival skill of rollback-to-float. Teaching this skill takes about 4 weeks of private lessons, 10 minutes/day, 4 days/week. The rollback-to-float is mostly for emergency management in the event she gets into the water alone. While it sometimes does not seem as glamorous or fun as swimming, it is so incredibly necessary for those children who spend a lot of time near a pool, pond or lake. If your child learns to float this year, he will come back next year to master the swim-float-swim, and he will probably be better prepared (and safer) for it. Then, the real fun can begin!
HOW DO LESSONS WORK, AND WHAT’S WITH THE CLOTHES?
At Starfish Infant Aquatics, all initial lessons are one-on-one, with only the instructor and the child in the pool, because I believe your child deserves my undivided attention. The parent or caregivers cheer on the child poolside. Until the last week of lessons, all of the child’s lessons will be in a swim diaper/swim suit. When both I and the parent feel confident in the child’s skills, we will add a t-shirt one day, then “summer clothes” another, and then “winter clothes” to ensure the child can complete her “aquatic problem solving skills” fully clothed. The reason for this is that most aquatic accidents happen when a child is clothed, and while we hope this never happens, we want the child to encounter this in a controlled lesson environment first where we can help her make necessary adjustments as needed.
On the last day of lessons, everyone is back in a swim diaper/bathing suit. For swim-float-swimmers, I will get mom and dad in the pool to make sure the child will swim, rollback and float for them.
I encourage kids who have "graduated" from their initial lessons to keep their skills and confidence growing with weekly small-group lessons. Like so many other skills, swimming is best learned and retained with consistent practice.
ARE SWIMMING LESSONS FOR INFANTS AND SMALL CHILDREN SAFE?
YES! I am dedicated to safety and maintain numerous safety protocols to promote safe lessons. Your child's health and well-being are closely monitored on a daily basis. In addition, your child's medical and developmental history is a mandatory part my registration process, all of which is held strictly confidential.
I can adjust lessons to accommodate for many conditions as long as I know about them. If at any time I do not feel that I can provide safe lessons, I reserve the right to stop lessons. I also may at any time request a physician’s note approving your child to continue participation in lessons.
Consider these additional points:
· No child is ever thrown into the pool.
· I will monitor your child for temperature and muscular fatigue, as well as physical and psychological well-being.
· Your child's daily routines outside of lessons hold valuable data for me. You will receive instruction on how to communicate this information to me.
WHY ARE YOUR LESSONS ONLY 10 MINUTES PER DAY?
Lessons for children up to 4 years old are 10 minutes/day, while lessons for children 4-6 years old are 20 minutes per day. The reason for the brief lessons are multi-faceted: 1. Safety: Since all lessons are one-on-one, your child will be very tired at the end of each lesson (perhaps before, in which case his lesson may be shorter than 10 minutes on some days). Infants and young children have a more delicate physiology than adults, and we want to make sure the lessons that are intended to make them safer around the water are themselves not unsafe. 2. Short attention spans: The short lesson helps me capitalize on the brief attention spans of young children and maximize their time for learning. 3. Better learning and retention of skills: Research shows that motor skills like walking, running and swimming are best learned in short, intense periods of practice over a long period of time. So not only will your child learn the swim and float better initially because of the lesson format, she is more likely to retain the muscle memory long after lessons are over if she needs to use her skills again before coming back for group maintenance or refresher lessons (see below for "further lessons").
I have been trained to teach young children to swim by honoring each child's individual strengths and experiences. I understand the fundamentals of the behavioral sciences, child development and of sensori-motor learning as it relates to the acquisition of aquatic survival skills, and I use this education to guide each child through the sequence of learning to swim and float.
Parents enroll their children in Starfish Infant Aquatics Survival Swim Lessons because they understand their children's abilities and want to give them every opportunity to learn. They also feel it is important to teach their children how to survive by resting and breathing should they ever find themselves alone in the water. Research shows that there are better times to learn certain skills, and swimming is best learned early in life.
WHY DO YOU NOT USE PARENTS IN THE WATER DURING THE LESSONS? I do not want the child to initially associate the water with the love, attention and affection of the parent while in the water. Also, it takes incredible concentration and objectivity to teach a very young child how to respond to an aquatic emergency, and research shows that parents often find it too difficult to be objective to be effective teachers with their own children in the water. This is even true with survival swim instructors and their own children. Even as an instructor, I took my own children to another survival swim instructor for just this reason! However, I do get parents in 1-2 times over the session to teach them how to swim safely with their own children.
There is an important difference between being fearful and being apprehensive because you are not yet skilled in a dangerous environment. These are not like traditional swim lessons; it is a drowning prevention program that teaches survival swimming. Your child may not happily skip to his or her lesson each day at first, but that's okay. Sometimes as a parent, you make sure your child does things for his or her safety, like receiving vaccinations and sitting in a car seat, because you know they are important. The same can be said for survival swim lessons.
FUN can be defined as when SKILL meets CHALLENGE. Once competent in their skills, many children cannot be dragged away from the pool. They are having entirely too much FUN.
When you learn about survival swim lessons, you know this is the most important level of protection you can give your child to prevent drowning. If fences, supervision, and alarms fail, your child's skill level in the water is an additional measure of protection.
Every child is different; however, many parents report that once their young children have mastered learning to swim, the resulting confidence in the abilities engenders a positive self-concept that is often demonstrated in other aspects of their personalities.
Flotation devices (e.g., "puddle jumpers," arm bands, etc.) give children a false sense of security and hold them in postures that are not compatible with swimming skills. If a child learns that he can jump in the water and go into a vertical posture and he will be able to breathe, he is getting the wrong idea about that environment. Children who cannot swim should not be allowed to learn that it is safe to play in the water while relying on a crutch. Coast Guard-approved life jackets must be worn in a boat or around the water when there is the potential for accidental submersion, but they are not a substitute for the ability to swim or for adult supervision.
I recommend that you bring your child back for one-on-one or small-group maintenance lessons at Starfish Infant Aquatics. Frequency depends on the child's age, growth rate, skill level and confidence level. The goal of maintenance lessons is to help your child adjust his/her new body size and weight to his existing skill level. I will work with your child to help fine-tune his aquatic experience to assist with building efficiency, which will result in self-confidence. This is especially important if your child is not able to practice any appropriate aquatic skill between seasons. Maintenance lessons are important because children change so much both cognitively and physically during the first 4-5 years of life. It is important that their aquatic skill and abilities grow with their bodies!