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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Water babies - swimming lessons for kids

I have always wanted to establish water confidence in Aiden and Ava and to begin swimming lessons for them early. Recently, we took up four lessons for both Aiden and Ava in water confidence and I am happy at their progress!

'I want to sleep in mummy!'
The lessons were on Saturday mornings and the only challenge was to wake up at 8am and prepare for lessons at 9am (and of course plunging into the cold water early morning). I attended the lessons with both of them, the depths of a mother's love - I can actually get myself into the ice cold water so early in the day when I kept procrastinating whether to go swimming regularly myself. 

Watching me get into the water first.
For the lessons for babies (age group between seven - twelve months), it incorporated singing to the babies, guiding them to blow bubbles in the water and helping them relax in the water by holding them close yet bringing them into the water. Ava loves going into the water and kicking with her little feet. She totally hates lying on her back in the water - though this was supposed to be relaxing. I got a much needed workout myself lifting her with both her feet on my palm and supporting under her arm. 
Meeting her aqua friends.
I like that the lessons focused on helping babies relax with songs and interaction with the other babies. As they are still young, we had to keep the lessons short as they got really cold after 30 - 40 minutes in the water. A tip would be to get thermal swim wear for the babies. 

Demonstrating blowing bubbles to the babies.
As babies love mimicking you, we showed them the way to blow bubbles and having our head go under water. Ava started to imitate me after the second lesson but she was drinking the pool water instead of blowing! Good progress in trying though, as she didn't attempt to follow me at the first time. Hope she can try going underwater in the next lesson. 

With Aiden, we have always brought him to the pool ourselves and play in the water. He is relatively confident when he has his float on (for 1.2m pools) or playing in the baby pool himself with us close by. I would like him to start learning strokes as he is 3 and a half now. With his baby sister's arrival, he has somewhat regressed and became very clingy to me and did not dare to jump into the pool or play independently. So we decided to have him build water confidence again before starting any strokes lessons. 

Diving into the pool - demonstration.
After some coaxing, Aiden finally jumps into the pool towards me, and I believe with more play and time spent in the water, he would be able to regain his confidence in the water. 

Swim swim swim
Giving him instructions on kicking and swimming ahead.
Am happy to see him enjoy himself as he learns. To me, this has to be the way for kids to pick up new skills and learn more effectively.
Happy at what he's learnt.
As we spent three consecutive weeks at the pool on Saturday mornings, I also observed the other kids having lessons with other instructors. 

What I saw in a little boy age around six years old really struck a chord in me. It was especially chilly that morning after the rain, and he was quite skinny in built. He had a personal coach who trains him over an hour weekly. There was no smiles, no laughter during lesson. Only clear instructions from the coach to the boy, the coach helping him to positions in the water and practising the strokes he explained. It was quite monotonous and often I hear the coach reprimanding him gently but firmly that he has got his strokes wrong and he has to keep doing the same until he gets it right. At one point, I saw the little boy shivering and had to get out of the water. At this point, I think it was his father who came by the pool. He simply monitored how his son was and went to fetch a sip of warm water for him and the lesson continued. The little boy looked so frail and uninterested in the lesson, with his father telling him sternly to focus, and to do the strokes correctly by the side of the pool. He even pointed out to the other kids who were having group swimming lessons and told his son that he should be able to swim like them. My heart broke looking at this scene and I feel very strongly at this point that I want my kids to learn skills and attend lessons that they enjoy and have fun along the way. They learn best when they are interested in the lesson. It was also very important not to compare them against their peers or at least not put them down so badly.

I know this may be a perfect situation and we may not be able to achieve this all the time. But I will strive to do so for both Aiden and Ava. 


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