about nursery swimming? and wwyd?

(64 Posts)
WandOfElderNeverProsper Fri 06-Sep-13 00:08:00

I'm doubting myself as I'm not sure if there's something I'm missing here...

DD has been given a place at a school nursery. Good school, but out Of our catchment so we chose their nursery to improve her chances of getting in to the school.

The school has a swimming pool, and they take the nursery children in once a week for lessons. I asked the teacher how it works, and she said that there is an instructor, at the side of the pool with one or two teachers (I'm going to assume lifeguard trained) at the side, then two teachers in the pool with the kids.

I asked how many kids are in the pool at a time and she said 13?

Am I right in thinking a ratio of 2:13 in an adult-waist high swimming pool is nuts??? How is one teacher supposed to hang on to 6/7 kids by herself, never mind instruct them in any way!

DP seems to think I'm worrying over nothing, so I wanted to canvas some opinion and also ask wwyd? I'm very tempted to say she can't participate in the lessons or at least only if I can come and watch them? (I'm lifeguard qualified if they wanted a volunteer). Or is there something I'm missing here?

DD is just turned 3 if that makes a difference - the youngest in the class.

WandOfElderNeverProsper Fri 06-Sep-13 00:17:20

Sorry for any typos - on phone!

I think it will be OK. I know a reception class is older, but when my DC were in reception, their swimming lessons had two adults in the pool and one or two adults round the side (30 kids).

Is it definitely adult-waist depth water? Do you know if your DD could stand up in the water? (I mean, not be out of her depth)

Its a better ratio than 2:13, really from what you described it sounds like 5:13? If a child was in trouble one of those adults round the side could be in the pool in seconds.

But I think it would be absolutely fine to say you wanted to come and see a swimming lesson (or more than one) before you gave permission for your DD to do it.

megsmouse Fri 06-Sep-13 00:27:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WandOfElderNeverProsper Fri 06-Sep-13 00:36:55

I guess I'm just wary because of her age - I'd never leave her for a second in the bath because of the whole... Drowning in a few seconds thing. I worry that with so many kids they might not notice her in trouble until it was too late? 5:13 including the teachers at the side is still just over 2 kids per adult. Mistakes happen. I'm not sure if taking 13 toddlers into a swimming pool between 2-5 adults isn't asking for something to go wrong.

I am a massive worrier though.

And no, she can't stand up in the water, the pool is deeper than she is tall.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Fri 06-Sep-13 00:39:30

If it would reassure you, you could probably ask to see their risk assessment?

AnneUulmelmahay Fri 06-Sep-13 00:46:29

Attendance at attached nursery unlikely to form part of admittance criteria. Assuming state sch here.

MrsCocoa Fri 06-Sep-13 00:51:03

It makes me feel anxious too - that's a lot of pre-school aged non-swimmers to keep simultaneously under close supervision. But not sure how well founded this reaction is however: checking the risk assessment sounds a good idea?

ukatlast Fri 06-Sep-13 00:59:47

YANBU you should trust your instincts and definitely go along - even get in the water. At that age (3) it is more usual for swimming lessons to be 1:1, often the parent in the pool with the child.
In your shoes, I would insist on going along myself or simply refuse permission. It's highly unlikely that the teachers on the side are trained lifeguards - I think the actual instructor will be the only trained one.

ukatlast Fri 06-Sep-13 01:03:33

Quote OP: I am a massive worrier though.

And no, she can't stand up in the water, the pool is deeper than she is tall.'

No you are not being a worrier, you are a trained lifeguard (hence better qualified than most) assessing whether it is a weekly risk you wish to take with your 3 year old.
You are the only one who will suffer long-term if it goes horribly wrong...if you are SAHM, make sure you are there to keep her and other kids safe.

If she cannot safely stand up in the water - will she have a flotation aid of some kind or are these frowned upon thesedays - how else can she feel safe without one?

WandOfElderNeverProsper Fri 06-Sep-13 01:40:24

I'm glad its not me! I will definitely ask if I can go along and see a lesson first. I just can't get my head around how it works? The teacher said there would be floats etc, but that's even more dangerous in a way - I remember clearly as a kid being stuck under the water under a large float! Nothing bad happened as I was a strong swimmer but I can easily imagine that spelling disaster for a little kid.

Maybe I will go and it will all be set up in such a way as I'm worrying needlessly.. But still! The last time I took my daughter swimming I had to hold on to her the entire time as she couldn't even manage treading water with a float. Can't imagine 13 kids like that being safe at all!

1:1 would be fine, as a PP mentioned that seems to be the norm in toddler swimming, the instructor is instructing the parents on how to help the toddler rather than teaching the kids directly iyswim?

NatashaBee Fri 06-Sep-13 01:43:34

YANBU - I wouldn't like this either. If you take your young child swimming at a public pool you can usually only have one or two children per adult.

baddriver Fri 06-Sep-13 02:15:01

It would worry me, too.

I have seen 2 close drownings at swimming lessons with groups of 4 children so this sends alarm bells ringing for me

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 02:22:30

The facts sound plain weird and I can't help wondering if that teacher has got it quite right. Surely there must be legal standards about all this? None of the kids will be able to stand up in deep water, so I just don't understand how it can work physically.

Anyway, I would volunteer to come along and help, as you are trained, and then you can improve what does sound like a bizarre situation.

Kafri Fri 06-Sep-13 03:41:14

I've got to question whether its all that safe taking anyone in a pool where they can't stand for any prolonged length of time?? Or am I just over thinking it here...

HitTheNorth Fri 06-Sep-13 03:47:17

That sounds ridiculous, whether the teachers on the side are lifeguards or not, they would struggle to watch all those children. Also, does a nursery place definitely form part of the entry criteria for the school? It didn't for ny dc's primary school.

aufaniae Fri 06-Sep-13 03:56:25

DS (4) goes to lessons at the local pool. They have up to 8 children and 2 instructors, plus a life guard, plus all patents watching from the side. One instructor is on the side, one in the water. The kids hold on to the side, and take it in turns to swim across, with instructor in the water right next to them / holding them up (floats too). There's a fair bit of time spent waiting for your go, only one swims at once.

If they do it like that I can see how it could work. I would also ask to see a lesson.

aufaniae Fri 06-Sep-13 03:57:51

The water is too deep for them to stand, although they can touch it with tip toes.

aufaniae Fri 06-Sep-13 03:58:44

Why do you think it will increase your chance of a place?

aufaniae Fri 06-Sep-13 03:59:47

Sorry I meant they cab touch the bottom with their tip toes!

Our school (in Singapore) does that. The kids in the nursery class (aged from just 3 years old) go in the baby pool first and all are assessed before moving to water 1.2m deep (out of their depth). Anyone who needs armbands or other flotation devices are given them, mums help out at each lesson and teachers and teaching assistants are in the water too. I used to help out and am a qualified swimming instructor. Safety is paramount but each parent helper / teacher/ TA / swim teacher is watching 2 or 3 children as they swim widths / jump in etc. It's not difficult, classes were 18-20 kids and rules were always followed (excellent and well respected teacher!).

It's the norm in Singapore for most kids to be swimming independently by about 3 so most had no flotation devices but some were new. Kids came on in leaps and bounds and it was fun to help out, I never felt I wasn't able to properly supervise or keep a close eye on the kids I was allocated. Fwiw, ever tried helping out at a lifesaving lesson with 30 8 year olds, in 3m of water all wearing pyjamas? Ratio was 10 kids to 1 adult. Good job I was in the water so no-one saw how much I was sweating!

Swimming in a group of peers is fantastically good for learning and confidence but I'm surprised that there are only a couple of teachers in the pool for 13 kids. I would ask to spectate at a lesson and quiz the swim instructor on their safety policy and the reasoning behind it. If you're not comfortable with the information you receive from this, you are perfectly able to request your dd doesn't participate. You are ultimately responsible for your child's safety and this is one of those times where you have to make a judgement call. Don't feel "persuaded" if you're not happy with the set-up.

Ducky5867 Fri 06-Sep-13 04:41:40

Could it be that the pool has a moveable floor (so they can actually can stand up in it) and just forgot to mention that bit to you?

My Dd nursery takes them weekly swimming since age 2.5/3 yrs depending on child. The ratios are same as you described - 2 professionals from swimming pool at side and 2/3 nursery teachers in pool depending on number of kids going that week - usually around 10 can be up to 15.

The pool has moveable bottom - all kids can stand up - just. They are all given arm bands and the more experienced ones (duckling award 3 plus
Can just use a shark fin if they prefer). The ones aiming for duckling 4 or higher have opportunity to have their floatation devise off for a little while each lesson to practice proper swimming.

I think it's brilliant, I have been to watch a couple of time, and fully happy with it. My dd has duckling award 3, one year left at nursery to get the final 2, and then she gets to skip first stage of proper lessons when older. Only wish schools took them as often as nursery - as once she starts school she will have to do lessons on a Saturday.

Ozziegirly Fri 06-Sep-13 04:57:11

My 3yo has swimming lessons and the ratio is 3 kids to one instructor - but I am by the side too and could leap in if DS was in trouble. He can stand though as there is a ledge at the side ( a wide one).

MrsMook Fri 06-Sep-13 06:02:07

I'd ask about observing a lesson. DS1 (2 1/2) has lessons with me in with him. He can finally stand in the shallow end (he's short and was the only one who couldn't for ages) There's not much he can't do, but moments when he needs someone close to help if he's struggling to correct himself- usually when he's out of his depth. (no armbands etc) I'm not sure of the set-up when he changes classes at 3 as they go from babies to swim school schemes, so think it is more independent then.

Littlefish Fri 06-Sep-13 06:40:12

I just wanted to pick up on one of your points, as others have too.

In most cases of state schools, attendance at a nursery has no influence on whether your child gets a place at the school. Are you absolutely sure about your information? I would hate you to be disappointed.

Booboostoo Fri 06-Sep-13 07:21:20

I don't think you are over-reacting at all - far too many young children for the adults to properly supervise. And it's very easy for one adult's attention to be focused on the child who is scared of the water, or the child who refuses to sit in the floating thingey. They should have a parent with every child IMO.

ArabellaBeaumaris Fri 06-Sep-13 07:25:55

My DD's first swimming lessons were a group of about 12 3-4 year olds with one teacher out of the pool. Flotation devices on. Didn't bother me but they could stand up. Are you sure they can't stand up?

ArabellaBeaumaris Fri 06-Sep-13 07:26:59

Just re read your OP. attending a nursery has no bearing on a reception place!

SHarri13 Fri 06-Sep-13 07:28:04

My 3 year old has swimming lessons and they have a 1:4 ratio for 3-4 year olds. Once they start reception they're in on their own!

I wouldn't have an issue with what you describe if they are qualified swim instructors?

Sounds fine to me.

Attendance at a nursery school has no bearing in school admissions though so prepare to have to send her somewhere else next year.

SHarri13 Fri 06-Sep-13 07:35:45

Just thought I'd make my pst clearer, there's a class of 15 3-4 year olds and four swim instructors, three in the pool and one on the side. The pool is shallow enough for them to stand apart from the very end where the in pool teachers swish them across or they swim if they're able to. They all wear swim discs.

I'm in awe of the school taking that many pre school aged children swimming, the logistics must be very difficult. It's hard enough with one wet child and a toddler. I suspect your talking private here OP? as cost alone for one child would be him so times that by 13!

RedHelenB Fri 06-Sep-13 07:46:33

YABU - council pool run lessons 12 children under 4 to one swimming teacher (stood at the side) & yes they all had armbands/flotation devices. DS when he started could hardly touch the bottom, don't think depth is the issue.

RedHelenB Fri 06-Sep-13 07:47:45

Actually I tell a lie, it is possible some may have been 5 but most weren't.

Mutley77 Fri 06-Sep-13 07:54:20

Sounds fine to me. My kids have gone for swimming lessons since they were 3-3.5. Ratio is one teacher to about six children - with either a lifeguard or a water helper as back up.

Swimming teachers know how to manage the risk. When they were out of their depth the kids all sat on the side and took their turn so the teacher was effectively only supervising one at a time. Obvs she had a very close eye on the others too to ensure that they weren't in danger (they were also watched by the back up person)

You are probalby worried as your DD is only 3 - she will be the very youngest there - remember nursery is for age 3 and 4 - most of them will be sensible enough to manage this and follow those kind of instructions. The point of lessons is also to learn water safety so this will become easier as the year progresses.

3 and 4 year olds are definitely not toddlers - I would not agree this being safe for toddlers (eg 2 year olds) but is probably why you feel anxious as your child is only just 3 and therefore at the youngest age this would be an appropriate risk.

Thumbwitch Fri 06-Sep-13 07:59:01

That would bother me loads.
DS1 has swimming lessons in a local pool, the water is not above their head level, and there is a max ratio of 4:1 children per teacher.

YANBU. I would ask if I could volunteer to help out or something, maybe - I wouldn't want my child to miss out but I don't like that ratio at all.

Mollywashup Fri 06-Sep-13 08:05:24

my niece is a swimming teacher she only has four three year olds at a time and is in the pool with them these are private lessons plus two other swim teachers in the pool doing other lessons and a lifeguard on the side i am also lifeguard qualified the teachers on the poolside are only there to watch and not to rescue and some (not all) prefer to chat i would be very wary

bruffin Fri 06-Sep-13 08:19:03

Sounds fine to me as well. I think there was 1 to 8 in the 3 & 4 classes at our council pool. Teacher is in the pool with them.

thegreylady Fri 06-Sep-13 08:28:47

YANBU but I think that if they have been doing this for a while they are unlikely to have continued if any child had been hurt or regularly severely distressed. I would go and watch a lesson without your child.

tiggytape Fri 06-Sep-13 08:33:33

we chose their nursery to improve her chances of getting in to the school.

I don't know a lot about swimming but know a bit about school admissions and, in the vast majority of cases, attendance at the nursery gives no priority for a reception place. Even when the two are on the same site with a shared playground and even when you can demonstrate the child is settled.

You presumably need to apply for her reception place by January 2014. Please ask the school for their admissions criteria and your explore local school options to see which ones you are likely to be able to get into.

There's no point only listing impossible schools - they definitely aren't obliged to give you your first or even any of the choices you list if you don't qualify. By all means list the one your at as your first choice but list some back-ups too as it is unlikely attendance at the nursery is going to help you.

flowery Fri 06-Sep-13 08:34:40

Go and watch a lesson so you can see the set up and how it's managed. If you're not happy, pull her out or make sure you attend each time if that's an option for you.

And yes, attendance at the nursery v unlikely to have any bearing on reception admission.

Blondeshavemorefun Fri 06-Sep-13 08:36:39

I'm surprised children can't stand

Most training pools are shallow enough for 3yr to stand

But often lesson when over 3 are 8/10kids and adult teacher on edge

Maybe volunteer to help so can see for yourself

Cakebaker35 Fri 06-Sep-13 09:22:51

Why not ask to go along to a swimming session and observe? You can then see how it works /put your mind at rest, or if you still have concerns then you can raise them with the full knowledge of the situation.

DeWe Fri 06-Sep-13 09:45:20

DD1 did lessons with 10 children to 1 adult at that age. She could sit on the steps in the shallow end, but nowhere near touch the floor even half way down the pool.
She was very nervous at first, but it did work.

And actually when I watched, I noticed that the children who were the shallow end often just walked across the pool, whereas those at the deeper end (done randomly and changed each week) would be trying to swim.

TopOfTheMorning1 Fri 06-Sep-13 16:42:55

Hello I'm a swimming teacher and take a class of six (occasionally seven) three yr olds at one time with a lifeguard supervising the pool. In terms of getting great teaching it's not ideal as I only take two at a time for each exercise in case they need support but in terms of safety its ok. The pool is 1.2 m deep so children cant stand but for the first few weeks they all had shark fins and noodles. As i get to know the group that changes but in general I prefer deep water teaching as it encourages the children to work out how the water supports them and gets then swimming faster. They sit on the wall or on the steps between swims so an extra person on poolside to keep an eye on them sounds perfect! But if your worried speak to the teachers and put your mind at rest.

arethereanyleftatall Fri 06-Sep-13 16:59:24

I might be wrong and I haven't read the full thread but I think you have all misunderstood. I think by floats they don't mean the large squares that older kids ride on, but rather individual floats per child. Ie the ones that go round their tummies and arm bands. So they'll all float and 5 adults can easily watch if anyone flips over !

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 06-Sep-13 17:00:12

Nursery attendance is a criteria for an admissions at dd1's school, so it does happen.

I think the situation sounds dodgy - if she was not out of her depth, then ok, but I don't see how the situation you've described could be safe. I would take her out of lessons.

gordyslovesheep Fri 06-Sep-13 17:02:31

2 teacher in the pool - other adults on the side watching ...the kids will hold onto the side and the instructor will take 1/2 at a time across - it will be fine

and no - sadly, going to nursery wont get you a place in reception x

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 06-Sep-13 17:03:38

That is state school btw.

starfishmummy Fri 06-Sep-13 17:15:41

It seems odd that a primary school swimming pool would be too deep for the children to stand up in at the shallow end.

hippoherostandinghere Fri 06-Sep-13 19:59:54

Attending the school nursery is very high up the criteria on the admissions policy to my DC's school. Perhaps it's dependant on area, it's certainly common here in NI. I'm sure the OP checked that out at the time of application.

bababababoom Fri 06-Sep-13 20:43:02

I have 3 children, and can't take them swimming by myself, because the pools all insist on a 2:1 ratio of children:adults for children under 8. They can stand up in the small pool. I don't know why the ratio would be any different for a group having a lesson?

Mandy21 Fri 06-Sep-13 20:54:21

Haven't read all the replies but sounds very similar to my children's old nursery - they went swimming at the pool across the road from the nursery in their pre-school year - so a mixture of 3 and 4 yr olds, with similar staffing ratios.

It was brilliant - all the children had arm bands (swimming school ones rather than blow-up ones) on if they couldn't swim, just a couple of the children doing the exercise at any one time. I would let her go, its great for being independent, getting dressed, responsibility for clothes etc, but if you have any concerns, go and watch the first session to put your mind at rest.

ReallyTired Fri 06-Sep-13 20:59:53

I think that the swimming willl be fine. DD has had swimming lessons at the local sports centre with a ratio of 1 to 8 (plus a lifeguard)

"They can stand up in the small pool. I don't know why the ratio would be any different for a group having a lesson?"

Can they access the big pool if the child chooses to be naughtyl? Swimming lesssons are more regrimented than free swimming so the potential for disaster is less.

bababababoom Fri 06-Sep-13 21:05:09

I have three children, and can't take them swimming by myself because all the pools insist on a ratio of 2:1 children:adults for children under 8. Even in the little pool where they can stand, and I can watch them all easily. I'm not sure why the ratio should be so different for a lesson - and only just 3 is so tiny.

Thesebootsweremadeforwalking Fri 06-Sep-13 21:26:13

DS started swimming lessons aged 3 in a local council pool, I'm pretty sure the ratio was 1:4, with two instructors in the water to 8 kids plus a lifeguard poolside. They all had shark fins on until they were ok without them, though.

acer12 Fri 06-Sep-13 21:31:06

I'm a swimming teacher and your dd has a fantastic opportunity!
I regularly teach 8 under 4s with me on the side of the pool, they all have correct floatation and I manage wonderfully. Teachers in the water is even better!!
The lessons should have lots of fun games and learning through play she should have a blast!

ducky your pool and badge system sounds like one of my sites, are you in Trafford ?

acer12 Fri 06-Sep-13 21:32:47

babbaboom the ratio is different as each teacher will be fully trained in life saving and pool safety

acer12 Fri 06-Sep-13 21:34:03

You would be surprised at how able three year olds can be grin

NewNameforNewTerm Sat 07-Sep-13 11:14:15

It is worth checking out how big / deep the school pool is. That may calm some of your concerns. Our school pool is tiny and shallow and even nursery children can stand up with heads well clear of the water. It is a nightmare to teach bigger children in it as incorrect body positions means knees hit the floor (and it is painful) but great for the younger ones. We have similar ratios. One qualified swimming teacher actually teaching the session, two adults (TAs) in the pool with the children and the teacher and nursery nurse pool side. It is easier for us spot all children if you are not in the water and we monitor happiness / confidence as well as safety so we can reassure and encourage as soon as we see a sad or anxious face.
One difference is we invite parents poolside to watch, but for safety they have to stay behind a particular line so we can get around the whole poolside quick. Plus they can dry and dress their own child afterwards leaving us staff fewer children to help.

NewNameforNewTerm Sat 07-Sep-13 11:15:48

Forgot to say every member of staff their is rescue and resusc qualified.

TeaLadyExtraordinaire Sat 07-Sep-13 11:25:09

So, actually, there are 5 staff and 13 children. A ratio of just over 2:1.

Where did your figures come from?

MmmmWhiteWine Sat 07-Sep-13 11:29:41

I don't think YABU but I do think your worrying unnecessarily. The swim school our girls attend has one teacher to approx 6 pupils and it seems to work really well. The pool is too deep for them to stand but they all wear flotation rings on their arms if they need to. And it makes them learn to swim so much quicker. If I was you I'd discuss my concerns with the nursery and hopefully they'll reassure you.

forevergreek Sat 07-Sep-13 11:47:32

5 staff, 13 children sounds fine. Especially as all trained

I take my 2 and 3 year alone and have no training

NoComet Sat 07-Sep-13 12:09:51

I'm sure our public pre school lessons are just one instructor in the pool with just the life guard on the side. Around 8-10 DCs in arm bands.

DD2 never did even that, she went straight into the reception group, teacher on the side because we were collecting DD1 during the preschool lesson.

Both my DDs had swam from being absolutely tiny with me. DD1 didn't do formal lessons until 4-5. DD2 had done a bit of a baby and toddler class, but she was a menace and had to be kept right at the back because she was far too confident and scared the babies blush

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