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To stop her swimming lessons

(50 Posts)
Bambalina Thu 31-Mar-16 03:01:36

Background: one daughter, just 3, I am SAHP and likely to be for the foreseeable. I always said that I would start swimming lessons for her when she was able to follow verbal instructions, which now she is. Before now, I was taking her to the pool once a week pretty much every week, which she LOVES, is superconfident walking round the pool up to her chin, climbing out on the side, jumping in holding one hand, splashing, kicking, hanging out on floats, goes off and plays by herself (within reason!). We hang out afterwards at the poolside tables with recharge snacks, and we watch the swimmers doing laps "blowing bubbles the whole way" "look, on her back" etc etc.
DD goes to one parent-run ece where we have been for a year, one playgroup she has been at for about 2 years, and approaches most play opportunities or groups of children with confidence and interest - she may hang back in new situations or people for about 10 minutes but then easily joins in. I have no concerns about her socialising or going off to nursery.

I phoned the swimschool a few weeks to book her in for lessons next term, and they told me there was two spaces in the current class and did we want to join those and get started right away, which we did.
She HATES it. She can and has previously done all of what is asked, but screams and cries and doesn't want to join in. We've been to 3 sessions so far and its been the same each week. I've tried just letting her hang out with no pressure at first, then gentle encouragement, and then making her do it today (in the hope of once she sees she can do it, she will be happier doing the kicking/floating/pouring water on her own head). The sessions are very cruisy and gentle, lots of songs and splashing, and the instructor seems lovely. She knows at least 2 of the other 5 children there from ECE already too. And when I talk to her afterwards about it, she doesn't allude to any distress or dislike, in fact I've said to her so many time "did you have fun today in your swimming lesson with *instructors name*" and she replies, consistently, "yes".
After today's lesson, we stayed in the pool for about another 40 minutes and she even practiced putting her face in the water, repeatedly. I dunked her to swim underwater even - as we had been watching the others do in class for the last 3 weeks - and she was really relaxed. I've realised a while back that it seems to take her a while to 'warm up' in the pool, and so I do try and get her in a good 15 mins or so before her lesson, I might try 40 mins before the lesson next week (but its a fine line between getting too tired too?)

Part of me is 'listening' to what she can't articulate - the way she behaves there is really unusual for her - and last week I was thinking about it and said to the instructor "I'm thinking maybe she doesn't like being told what to do" and felt one of the other mums looking at me funny as I realised just how pfb that sounded! Like she's gone to swim classes to not be told what to do? I was just trying to figure out what was going on for her though. I know she's not hungry, as she gets a snack before we leave the house, as well as a decent breakfast an hour or so earlier, and she usually sleeps well, so not tired.
I'm also wary of turning something she previously loved into something traumatic and developing negative associations with "lets go to the pool!" when I am well-placed to continue to take her regularly, and tbh sixty quid a term on a single income could be so much better spent if its yielding no actual benefit! And isn't it my role as a parent to listen to my child?

OTOH I don't know if she is actually going to pick up any water skills by the cruisy relaxed "lets do some jumping in" "we're getting out the pool now, unless you want to practice blowing bubbles in the water" stylee which I usually do. I never learnt to swim til I was 8, despite my mum - a swim teacher - taking me regularly, and it took much much later to get my face in the water now try and get me out of the water. I know that DD watches what other children do and practices afterwards, in her own time, and so that aspect of the class could be useful as long as we hang out in the pool for a while afterwards.

I suppose I am also asking for your stories of swimclass hell - did you stick it out and it get better, or did you shelve it for a later date?

ChalkHearts Thu 31-Mar-16 03:05:28

I would drop the classes for now. 3 is tiny. No need for lessons at that age.

None of mine could handle swimming lessons till they were MUCH older.

Out2pasture Thu 31-Mar-16 03:11:26

could you book a one on one with a swim instructor. not for stroke development but for putting her in the water and telling her to swim to the other person. it's tricky to do alone.
decades ago early swim was fashionable but not stroke and technique. naturally left to their own children first do a type of treading water (more upright) gradually leaning more forward to get toys from the front or floating on their back to get places that are farther off (face out of the water is easier for breathing).
i'm just thinking if she is use to the water this may be the next stage not lessons and technique.

Bambalina Thu 31-Mar-16 03:31:37

Out2Pasture that's pretty much all these lessons are. No stroke technique at all. Its all singing songs about seahorses, pouring water on her head, climbing on to a floating raft and humptydumptying back off again , floating on back with me holding her, kicking with a noodle (again parents supporting), submerge and swim under from parent to instructor, buckets of toys to scoop up/throw into bucket, more songs, lots of songs. Definitely no actual swimming, just components needed for water safety.

We've gone with DP when he's had a day off, but she plays up far more when he's around and he does enable it a bit too!

Bambalina Thu 31-Mar-16 03:33:10

have wondered about 1:1 too - I have seen that happen (or 2:1) in the older classes, I will look into whats offered in the area from other providers (although this is the only one offered locally and we're a good 30 mins+ from other pools)

Bambalina Thu 31-Mar-16 03:34:19

and to be clear, I'm not expecting her to swim right away, if anything I would like her to start to be comfortable with kicking with a float and face in the water but I don't see actual swimming happening anytime soon

serenaserene Thu 31-Mar-16 03:43:19

Take her out if she is hating it so much. Start again after she starts school when she will the maturity to properly participate. 3 is very young and in my experience they don't make much progress til they are 5or

serenaserene Thu 31-Mar-16 03:57:41

Sorry butterfingers

5 or 6.

It sounds like she is getting more out of it when she goes in with you, therefore the lessons are a waste of money.

My dd started classes when she was 3 and is only just 'getting it' 4 years later. I persevered with her but in hindsight wish I'd left it a couple of years. It has cost hundreds!

Italiangreyhound Thu 31-Mar-16 04:02:00

I've scan read your post, it's very long. It sounds like you are stressing a bit about this so maybe she is picking up on that, maybe! grin

Re "Part of me is 'listening' to what she can't articulate - the way she behaves there is really unusual for her - and last week I was thinking about it and said to the instructor "I'm thinking maybe she doesn't like being told what to do" and felt one of the other mums looking at me funny as I realised just how pfb that sounded!"

Of course she may not like being told what to do. And at three she is young enough not to need something like this in her life. My dd tried ballet, swimming and taekwan-do at different stages in her life and hated them all because she hated being told what to do! It's OK for them not to like being told what to do, and it;s OK to allow them to not have to deal with that yet.

At school they will need to be told what to do and will need to do swimming probably too, so why not keep swimming for fun, invest in a few one to one tutor sessions if you feel appropriate.

She is your previous first born, just as mine is mine, don't worry about what others think like this, give her a break and return to it later, perhaps with a different instructor. That's my advice. wink

Out2pasture Thu 31-Mar-16 04:02:46

sounds like it's time for a break smile

avamiah Thu 31-Mar-16 04:07:35

My little girl is 6 years old and let me tell you all there is nothing you can tell me about swimming lessons that I haven't been through or seen as trust me I have seen it all.

Bambalina Thu 31-Mar-16 04:17:51

Ha Italian, I don't do concise very well at all. I did try (and then gave up after the second paragraph)
Also didn't want to dripfeed but provide all my worrying thinking to save replies of "have you thought of" when I have. Not superstressed as such, it doesn't keep me awake at nights, just evaluating if this is such a good idea to continue or not.

You lot are pretty unanimous. I just didn't want to be all soft and silly about pulling the plug if this was something that just needed another term of getting used to it. I know the 'norm' in this country is to start them young and loads of my peers were doing swimming lessons from 6 months which I didn't think necessary (for us) - I don't know many parents who haven't done these lessons

TerrorAustralis Thu 31-Mar-16 04:36:03

We live in a hot country where all the apartment buildings have unfenced pools, so swimming is an essential skill. In the UK, I wouldn't worry about it.

My DC has had 3 swim teachers. The first one he just did not like. I thought it was the swimming, but after we moved and changed teachers I realised it was the teacher he didn't like. There was nothing wrong with her, and she's a lovely person. He enjoyed parts of the lesson but would freak out if she tried to do something with him (instead of me).

Give it a break and come back to it in 6 months. In the meantime keep taking her to the pool and keep swimming fun.

christinarossetti Thu 31-Mar-16 04:46:10

Sounds like she's doing very well in the water for a 3 year old.

Drop the lessons for a while. As pp says, starting early is a huge money drain and doesn't in all honesty seem to make a huge difference.

Monstertrucker Thu 31-Mar-16 05:34:56

I'd drop the lessons for a bit. Our youngest loved the pool - then we started lessons and all the enthusiasm she had ebbed away. She was pushed beyond her comfort zone (although very capable) and began to hate it. We quit the lessons. After a while (probably a couple of years) we moved and her new school included a lot of swimming in the curriculum. With a new teacher the confidence came back, she asked for more and more lessons and is now a fantastic swinmmer, is on the swim team and chooses to train 6 times a week (she's still only 8). Giving up on lessons for a while was absolutely right for her and hasn't held her back at all.

Mistigri Thu 31-Mar-16 06:05:59

Just drop the lessons.

You are massively overthinking this. She is three, already happy in the water, and hates the swimming class. The solution is to take her swimming yourself and have fun rather than making swimming a source of stress for both of you.

Bambalina - I think you are not giving yourself enough credit for what you are doing with your dd. You've got a child who is confident and happy in the water, and that is down to you!

I suspect that if you carry on taking her to the pool and playing with her, swimming will come naturally, and lessons can come later.

Smellyrose Thu 31-Mar-16 06:52:06

Drop the lessons.

DD1 loves the water and taught herself to swim when we were on holiday when she was 4. She then didn't start formal lessons until she was 6 - she's now 10 and swims for her club competitively, so the late start certainly didn't hold her back.

Youarentkiddingme Thu 31-Mar-16 07:15:59

Personally id drop the lessons. With the greatest of respect (because you sound lovely) you are totally over thinking this and stressing about it. You'll drive yourself nuts if you try and read something into every behaviour and work out the cause for it. She is playing up - she doesn't need to be there so stop. Your DD is fine in a pool with you and you can do what instructor does.

In my local pool children of 3 can take lessons without parents and are swimming 1-2m on front with just a kick/float.

Before you give up though can you try one thing? Tell DD is she screams and cries there is no swimming after and you'll take her straight home - no snacks and 1:1 chatting in cafe. Then follow through.

CoraPirbright Thu 31-Mar-16 07:22:22

I could have written your post a few years back! Dd was super confident around water and adored being in the pool so I thought she would love swimming lessons. Omg the tantrums!! They were horrendous!! We gave up after 4 I think & left it for a year or so. She has never really enjoyed them tbh but at least got on and learnt when she was a bit more mature. I was desperately worried that I had ruined her enjoyment of swimming & the water by trying too early but thankfully this hasn't been the case.

AnnaMarlowe Thu 31-Mar-16 07:32:06

Everyone I know started lessons at 6 months too. I couldn't as we have twins and I didn't have anyone to come with me to help.

They started proper lessons just before starting school and at 8 yo both of them are at least one class higher than their peers who attended as babies.

I will say though that although both DC love the water and swimming, they don't particularly enjoy the lessons. It's noisy in the pool and I think they find it tiring and quite stressful.

herecomesthsun Thu 31-Mar-16 07:44:43

DS - hated water, I think he was at school before he started lessons, he can do 20 lengths now at 7

DD total water baby, has loved lessons, went from a baby.

newmumwithquestions Thu 31-Mar-16 07:52:37

I'm assuming you have paid up for the remaining term of lessons? If so, why not finish whatever's left of the term of and then if she's still not liking them don't renew (even though they will try to get a commitment to renew early, it's unlikely that your class will be full so you can make a last minute call). 3 weeks doesn't seem long for her to get used to something new. If she loves the water that much that would allow her to get used to the songs and exercises and maybe start to like some of them.

I am going against the grain of replies here as I take DD1 (19m) and DD2 (3m) to classes (just started with DD2 obviously!). I Started DD1 when she was 2 months old but have had 2 breaks of a few months in her classes. It's really really expensive when you add them all up!

It's one of my favourite things I do with them. DD1 has gone through stages of getting upset in classes but we've persevered. The reasons have been:
(1) She didn't want to go underwater (this was solved by adjusting the exercises, taking her back a stage and giving her more warning that she was going to be 'dunked').
(2) The class was too advanced (after a break she needed to go back a stage and re-do a term - once I worked this out she was happy).
(3) when she's going through a clingy stage with me. Haven't solved this as such but it just happens sometimes that when this is going on she doesn't want to join in and just wants to cling to me. I don't force her to do something she doesn't want to, she gets over it and I think it's good for her to be doing different things and be getting out her comfort zone.

I'd say there is a reasonable chance that 2 and 3 are applying to you. If she's always been swimming with you, a class (even though you are there) is a massive change. I've found that changing teacher or pool has thrown DD out a lot each time - she has taken several weeks to start getting used to the change.

The reasons why I have kept going to the class are:
They use warm pools in class and our local pool is ruddy freezing. I got cold, DDs teeth were chattering (and she was in a wetsuit).
I'm not confident enough to dunk her underwater on her own - I want a teacher there just in case.
I find that when I take DD on my own I don't do much with her - I think we both like the structure of a lesson with all the songs etc.
I don't have the selection of toys the class does. her favourite thing is the floating mat. I don't have one of those (nor could I transport one or be allowed to use it elsewhere).

What does the class instructor suggest? When DD has been unhappy I've asked them what I should do to make her happier. I had to suggest we drop down a class but in everything else they have been really good at coming up with suggestions. I've nearly stopped taking DD a couple of times but have been glad we've persevered.

Sorry this is really rambling....

scotsgirl64 Thu 31-Mar-16 07:57:29

I think she's too young( and maybe getting cold) , my dds didn't have swimming lessons until they were 5 and both went on to represent their county in swimming galas !.... Enjoy taking her yourself and don't stress about the lessons

wigglesrock Thu 31-Mar-16 08:05:05

I'd drop them, my kids never got on at swim lessons. I started them when they were a bit older than your dd but although they didn't hate them, they just didn't seem to get anything from them. Well dd2 pretty much hated them grin. I stopped taking them, continued taking them swimming for fun, they were grand in the water, would play, dunk their head etc - they just couldn't swim any strokes properly.

Dd1 steadily improved with just messing about, I had a bit of a wobble when she started P5 (swimming in school) in case she was the only one that couldn't really swim, she wasn't grin. She flew through the lessons the school took them to, I'm not sure if it was swimming with her friends, if she was just ready, or if the 'school" aspect helped her think of it differently. I could weep when I think of the money I spent when she was younger, school swimming costs me £1.50 a week.

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