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School swimming lessons

(10 Posts)
dairyfreebabyandme Mon 08-Dec-14 13:07:03

My reception aged child attends a small private school. This term she has been having swimming lessons with her class. The rest are all able to swim a few strokes and push and glide for a bit - they have all had lessons before school. Consequently we have started her in swimming lessons once a week, after school and taken her to the swimming pool every other weekend. Since the beginning of term she has learned to trust a float/noodle and blow bubbles in the water (she'd have never done this before). My LO hasn't had swimming lessons previously, as she has been very uncomfortable with water - although she enjoys baths she has always hated having her face or hair washed - this appears to be holding her back in her lessons. The school swimming teachers (not specialists in swimming) made her walk up and down the pool for two weeks in a row with her arms in front of her, whilst everyone else did push and glide. I could see that it was upsetting her and she told me so herself. In fact, each week it seems to undermine her confidence in swimming and we have to pick her up again. There were two swimming staff, a lifeguard, a teacher by the side of the pool and a teaching assistant. I really didn't find this productive use of time/resources, and asked if for the last lesson she could at least use a float, so she could practice kicking. Her class teacher (not one of the swimming teachers) still seems to be maintaining that she should put her face in the water and walk up and down but I feel that it is undoing all the good work that is being done in her after school lessons. I have two questions: 1) How do I help my daughter to progress and overcome her reluctance to put her face in the water and 2) How do I work with the school?

TeenAndTween Mon 08-Dec-14 14:35:19

Has she got goggles? If not get some.
Can you take her separately at weekends?
Bribery and lots of praise might help.
Can you 'count starfish' at the bottom of the pool?

To swim you need to put your face in the water otherwise your body is in the wrong position (head up encourages legs to sink).

Madcats Mon 08-Dec-14 15:02:55

There are children at DD's school who were very uncomfortable with swimming lessons; they really dreaded it. One particular Mum went to talk to the school and, when it subsequently emerged that the Mum wasn't a great swimmer, the teacher volunteered to give up a few Sunday mornings to get them both enjoying swimming/learning to swim together.

It doesn't sound as if this will be a goer for you (the teachers simply might not have the time in school to watch/be in the water with your DD and are quite possibly worried that she would panic). It is worth asking to talk to the swim teacher, though.

I think your daughter would really benefit from one-to-one lessons for a short while (can recommend a fab school in London). Especially if the teacher is in the water with her to keep things quiet and calm.

Yes definitely get some goggles. I am a big fan of swimfins too. You just need to make it fun for her too (even if that means choosing a cake after a swim).

manchestermummy Mon 08-Dec-14 17:06:22

DD2's swimming teacher starts every lesson by chucking a (small!!) bucket of water over their heads. Sounds horrific but isn't. DD2 hated that at first but got used to it (she's pre-school, so not too much younger) very quickly. I trust the teacher implicitly to dunk my child grin

Can you "play" swimming lessons in the bath? Do you swim together Can you have a competition of who can hold their breath the longest under water. DD1 loves that because I let her win (I sing and my lung capacity is rather better...).

I would also suggest talking to school and tell them exactly what you have said here. I watch school swimming lessons when I watch DD2 and I despair. The worst was a TA (I assume a TA) helping a young girl who appeared to have some sort of physical disability. She had no idea how to support this girl (i.e. physically support her), didn't know what to do with noodle, how to get her moving in water. In the end the staff member with her observed DD2's lesson for a bit and copied her teacher. Had I been that girl's parent I'd have gone a bit mad, I think.

5ChildrenAndIt Mon 08-Dec-14 18:55:07

Walk and face-dunk is a common confidence building technique - but I can see that its awkward when the others seem so far ahead.

MilkRunningOutAgain Mon 08-Dec-14 19:22:07

My DS was scared to swim and wouldn't put his face in the water. He can swim now but it's taken years and he may never enjoy it, he is 12. Your DD is probably no where near as worried about it as my DS, no way would he have got in a pool in KS1. The school did try to get him in the pool in yr r, though I had told them not to, but he just ran off. He generally did extra maths while the rest of the class swam, all the way up to yr 5, the maths is his idea of fun! I did get 1:1 teaching at the local pool in the end, it took 3 teachers before we found one he trusted and was prepared to learn from. And I think you do need consistency in teaching and taking things very gradually. At the local pool, the teacher in the level 1 lessons sprinkles water over the kids heads and encourages them to blow bubbles. My DS would not have joined in this, but over time his teacher got him to put his face in further and further, until he can do it. And yes yes yes to goggles, and those nose clips, whatever helps. Do talk to the teacher and explain, if this doesn't help you may need to be that parent and take your child out of swimming classes.

dairyfreebabyandme Mon 08-Dec-14 19:45:38

We have multiple sets of goggles :D large ones, small ones and a whole host of swimming toys/floats. We have tried swimming together as a family in fun settings (like Center Parcs. We've tried all kinds of silly stuff but she absolutely freaks out if you take her out of her comfort zone. I was hoping a bit of peer pressure from school would help her get stuck in a bit more, but no evidence yet!

I would not have such a problem with walk and face dunk if they were monitoring her, but they're not - so no face dunking actually takes place. They just let her march up and down and ignore her as far as I can tell. In actual fact, she won't put her face in the water anyway. The most she'll do is blow bubbles and that's mainly due to her after school swimming teachers who are really good with her - but all their work is undone by school the next day!

dairyfreebabyandme Mon 08-Dec-14 19:46:24

Might just have to pull her from school lessons but she'd hate that too! Can't win!! sad

MissyMew123 Tue 09-Dec-14 09:22:27

Is the teacher in the pool with them? We found the best result was by having small group lessons in a small hotel type pool with the teacher in the pool. The teacher we had was fab with the nervous ones like our daughter, it took time but after about 12-15 months (reception/year one) she progresed to being confident enough to swim with the teacher out of the pool and unaided. Now in Y3 shes a confident swimmer doing all four stokes and lengths. I never thought we would get this far looking back as to how nervous she was. I can uderstand that having two different teaching methods might be confusing but i would say the more time in the pool the better.

Bumpsadaisie Tue 09-Dec-14 13:47:34

My DD has a weekly swimming lesson at her state school. In reception she was similar to your daughter - no lessons before, very worried about jumping in or getting her face wet while the others were all leaping around and swimming a bit on their own.

She is a year older now and will now jump in and swim a few strokes by herself.

I would just give your DD time. She will be much bigger, more mature and more confident a year from now.

She probably just needs to be a bit older and more emotionally mature, so that she can confront her fears and make the assessment that, no matter how scary she finds it, she really would like to swim/jump in like the others. I think at 4 they are too little to do this. In a year's time she may well be able to do so though!

Don't forget that when we were all little people tended to start swimming lessons at 7/8 years old. The idea that the majority of a reception class would be able to swim unaided would have been very surprising to the previous generation!

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