Today, we got N’s graduation letter and certificate from Water Babies. Sad occasion, but also a sign of how far he’s come.
We don’t actually finish with Water Babies until he turns 4, so we’ll swim with them until the end of their term in February. Then it’s a change of class, although not pool because I’ve managed to book N onto one of the last spaces at the classes run by the pool.
His last lesson with Water Babies will be a sad one. It’ll be the last time I get in the pool with him for lessons…he’s coming round to the idea of going in the pool on his own, and tells me I’ll be sitting on the side like his aunt does and like he does when he goes to watch his cousin swim. Fingers crossed he’ll be fine going in for his first lesson with them and not undo all the hard work he and his current teachers have done with him over the last 3+ years.
So what has N learnt in his swimming journey so far?
1. Water safety
Being safe around water is something that Water Babies really focuses on from when they’re babies. How to get into the pool safely, how to pull themselves out of the pool (although N really struggles with this when the pool is high sided – obviously weak upper body compared with some of the others who have no problems). N also knows that he shouldn’t go leaping into the water without being told it’s ok to. Yes there’s occasions when the children get excited and want to jump in towards their parents, but on the whole, they’ll all sit or stand patiently until told to jump or dive.
2. How to listen
I’m really counting on N’s having learnt to listen, watch and pay attention to the teacher at swimming, hoping that once he starts school he’ll benefit from being used to listening etc. I really believe that Water Babies has helped him with this, and it’s such an important skill, that hopefully it’s now inbuilt.
3. Sense of achievement
I’ve documented much of N’s swimming journey, and there have been some terrible times where he went through almost a year of water wobbles. But he’s come out the other side, and loves being in the water. Every little achievement he makes, whether it be diving for sinkies for the first time without me going underwater with him, or trying a star float without moaning, is something more to encourage him in trying something else.
4. Starting swimming technique
I’m always amazed by how early on they can be taught correct swimming technique. While there’s obviously a long way to go (and he can’t really swim much on his own), they work on the right kicking action, correct hand placement on front and backstroke, breathing. N might not action this or take it all in, but the more it’s repeated and practiced, the more likely he’ll find it easy to transfer to big boy lessons, where they’ll continue to work on technique alongside building the confidence in swimming alone.
5. That learning can be fun.
N probably doesn’t even know that he’s really learning and having classes. Or if he does, that he doesn’t yet know that lesson might be boring. Because every swimming lesson is jam packed with activities; even if he’s not keen on that specific activity, he still has a lot of fun, laughter and interaction as well as learning. He’s loved every teacher he’s had, and they’ve treated the children like little people, really understanding what motivates them as well as I do as his mother.
So we’ve got a few lessons left after Christmas for N to turn into a ‘yes-child’ rather than a ‘no, I can’t’ one in readiness of his new lessons. He might not be able or willing to try and swim a width or length of the pool without his woggle (although I’m pretty impressed he can swim nearly 50 metres with one), but I’m sure he’s had the best start in learning early and having swimming lessons as part of his life.
Do your children have lessons? How do they get on?
Disclosure: We swim with and write for Water Babies.