Summer is the season for swimming lessons, and the pool is busy! As a parent, it can be tough to know how to best support your student in their learning. Here are some tips for helping your child focus during class, and for supporting them outside of lessons!
During the lesson
If your student is anxious, it can be tempting to approach them during their lesson and provide verbal support. However, this can be distracting to your student as well as others in the class, since it pulls their attention away from their teacher, who may be trying to demonstrate or explain a key skill. We encourage parents to support silently from the benches during lessons. Your child may very well want to show you their skills during class! If this happens, a thumbs up and a smile can communicate your support without pulling attention from the class.
For young children, the basic separation from parents can also be unnerving. Sometimes having the parent in the pool area can cause a conflict for the child – the reminder that you are present but not participating in class with them can make this separation harder. We may encourage parents in this situation to take some space from the class by heading into the lobby for the duration of the lesson. We have found that this both decreases anxiety for the child, as they are able to concentrate completely on their lesson, and helps them to learn that they are able to participate even when mom is not in the room.
Come prepared for class! Many families who are new to lessons simply do not know what their child needs to succeed! Here’s a shortlist of things that most students need for their lessons:
Goggles (Dolphin +)
Hair tie or swim cap for hair longer than shoulder length
Swim Diaper – if not potty trained yet
Ask them questions about their lessons! Did they learn anything new today? Have them explain a skill they worked on during their lesson! When your student is able to recall details about their classes, it will be easier for them to remember those skills the next time they have class!
Outside of Class
The best thing you can do to support your student outside of class is just to swim with them! Help them practice some of the skills they have been learning in class. Swimming can be a fun family activity and seeing their parents embrace the skills they have been learning can be incredibly validating for kids! Here are a few skills from each level to practice with your little fish:
Beluga: Mouth and nose bubbles, Listen for the fishies (Snap your fingers underwater and ask them to put their whole face in to listen), big jumps to you, ice cream scoops
Clownfish: Underwater bobs, ice cream scoops out to you, chicken/airplane/soldier, kicks on tummy and back
Dolphin: Scoops to you, practice rolling over to breathe, backstroke to you, kick w/ board (you could even do a kickboard race!)
Flounder: freestyle or backstroke races, underwater dolphin kick challenge (see how far they can go swimming underwater from the wall)
Jellyfish: Freestyle, backstroke, or breaststroke races, somersaults in the water, dive for rings
Manatee: 200-yard challenge! Have them swim 12 lengths without stopping, using any stroke. practice flip turns, treading water