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How do you teach your child to swim?

(9 Posts)
crazy88 Fri 19-Oct-12 20:16:16

Ds1 is 5.5, ds2 is 3.5 and I took them to their first swimming lesson yesterday. I had heard beforehand that the teacher was very strict with the children but I was pretty shocked tbh. Half the kids were crying in the changing room before they even got in (these are kids who had been before!!) and there were a few things he did that seemed unnecessarily harsh (eg ds1's friend got halfway across the pool and then took a breath and choked on a load of water so he turned around and started to try to swim back to the side (he was out of his depth) and the man shouted "no!" at him and made him keep going. The poor kid was reaching out for the man to grab on to him but he wouldn't help him. shock My two cried a fair bit at various points as well but they stuck it out and I gave them lots of praise, treats, put a positive spin on it etc and they were ok.

The teacher has since sent us an email saying he doesn't think ds2 is ready yet but ds1 should be ok if he sticks with it.

We do need them to learn to swim as we spend a lot of time in the water as a family (surfing and swimming), and we live in a rural area so there is not much choice of swimming teachers (the only other one I found has a massive waiting list).

Ds1 is prepared to give it another go with this guy, but it seems I am going to have to try to teach ds2 myself and I am not sure how to go about it. Would be interested to hear any advice, esp as if it's not working out with the lessons I may have to teach them both!!

Nell16 Fri 19-Oct-12 20:45:33

I would change the tutor wink. Learning should be pleasurable (at least at this age) and not scary. I mean all swimming teachers shout to be heard over the din of the swimming pool but to make children cry???

In our local pool they are split by levels of ability, so there is no need for them to struggle during the lesson to be told that one is not ready and another is OK to continue.

I guess it might be not a limited choice of teachers where you live, but some private school offer their pools for private teachers to carry out lessons.... Again it is here but might be different where you are.

A friend told me that her son learned just by going swimming on holiday, but then again it is not necessarily true...

Not sure, may be give your ds1 to have another go, but if he still scared, I would look for other lessons. Good luck!

alarkaspree Fri 19-Oct-12 20:55:57

I think 3.5 is quite young for swimming lessons. I found dd learned to swim just by playing around in the pool using a noodle. We went a lot and eventually she just agreed to try without the noodle and swam by herself (she was almost 5 I think). Now she has swimming lessons to learn proper strokes and breathing but I think if you are willing to just go and play in the pool with your younger ds he will swim when he's ready. I imagine you're not planning to send him surfing by himself for a few years yet anyway.

I would also put yourselves down on the waiting list for a nicer swimming instructor, in case ds1 can't get on with the shouty one.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 19-Oct-12 21:28:33

DD started at 4 with a lovely instructor and the whole class couldn't wait to get in the water. They learned breaststroke first and only when they were confident breaststroke swimmers did they do the other strokes.
I only saw her get tough with a child once that was after weeks of being lovely and also having talked to the mum first.
There is obviously a reason why the other instructor has such a long waiting list.

crazy88 Fri 19-Oct-12 23:04:15

thanks

lonecat - I thought that about the waiting list as well!

Annoyingly the only other option is to drive to the nearest municipal pool where there will be other teachers, but that's 30 miles away so not possible as an after school activity and frankly a 60 mile round trip just to go swimming is a bit excessive! The instructors here use the 2 school pools. There aren't any private schools (v rural!) so that's not an option.

I found out this evening that this teacher pushed my friend's kid in the pool once because he refused to jump in shock (he couldn't swim, wasn't wearing armbands or anything and it was the deep end, so not an unreasonable position to take). She still takes him though. Mind you her husband was in the forces so I think their parenting style is probably a lot tougher than ours!

I have ordered a book on Amazon about teaching swimming and will give that a go with ds2. ds1 is going to have another go tomorrow (he actually said to me "I am not even going to cry this time mummy!) and have emailed the teacher back asking him to help ds1 with his breathing so at least he doesn't get a noseful of water, but if he really hates it after tomorrow I won't take him again and will just have to try to teach him myself. I mean, how hard can it be? Surely is a fairly straightforward skill, like riding a bike. Is not like reading which takes years and is really complex to teach!

Colleger Sat 20-Oct-12 23:44:14

The best thing you could do is to take them recreational swimming twice a week. They will learn to swim well enough from a safety aspect, even if it's not perfect strokes this way. Once they can manoeuvre in the ware then you could introduce lessons.

MegMogAndOwl Sun 21-Oct-12 11:07:05

There's websites and things on YouTube with tips on teaching children to swim.

This one is quite helpful uswim

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 21-Oct-12 11:11:54

crazy88 - I got an Usborne book on how to teach your child to swim. I got them up to being able to breath and glide a bit and then put them on swimming lessons. We were lucky too that the first swimming instructor was very competent, very nice and very encouraging. Now they are merrily continuing swimming lessons. (I remember DS1 having to be taken to the pool 3 times before he would dip his toes in the water!) If that had not happen I would have been prepared to teach them myself...

crazy88 Sun 21-Oct-12 13:55:29

Thanks megmogandowl that looks really good.

Took ds1 to the lesson yesterday, took me 10 mins to get him to get out of the car, then once he had actually got changed he bottled it. Tried to gently persuade/encourage him but he was basically scared. Told him it was his decision, I wasn't going to force him but thought he would feel better about himself if he just gave it another go but he just couldn't make his mind up to do it, so we left. I don't blame him really. Trust is such a vital part of teacher/pupil relationship and he just doesn't trust this guy after the other day, which I can't really argue with. He may only be 5 but has pretty sound judgment when it comes to people he likes and dislikes!

Anyway, I took him myself today instead and we were in the pool for over an hour and in that time he became confident putting his head under so I am heartened now that he hasn't been totally traumatised by knobface swimming guy. The more I think about it the more annoyed I am tbh. Surely making children blunder across the pool out of their depth and swallowing lungfuls of water is the best way to put them off?!

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