Traumatic Swim Lessons - Mothering Forums
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Life with a Toddler > Traumatic Swim Lessons
girrllie's Avatar girrllie 04:55 PM 08-14-2003
We live in Florida and drowning is the leading cause of death for children under the age of 5. So I started swimming lessons with DD, who is 2 on Monday . The group classes were full so i signed up for private classes. Well, the instructor doesn't want me to be in the water with her. After 2 days in the water with both dd and me going in, the instructor wanted to take her in alone. So I allowed her to yesterday and DD cried the whole time. She's bawling, completely freaked out and the instructor is just continuing with dunking her under water, making her kick, etc. I let it go on for a couple of minutes to see if she would calm down, then jumped in. I just couldn't take it and thought it was a total misuse of adult power.

Well, the instructor got really mad - nothing inappropriate but I could tell she was pissed off. She said that today, either she goes in alone with her the whole time or to not come to lessons. Has anyone heard of this? Is this the way they teach swimming?

I wanted a fun activity for DD, who loves the pool, and now it's just a nightmare. DD even woke up again and again last night crying, one time saying, "kick,kick, no, no!"

Anyway, I'm not going back, but I just thought that maybe others had more experience with this. Is this the normal way to teach swimming?

Heavenly's Avatar Heavenly 05:12 PM 08-14-2003
I wanted to take DS to swimming lessons and they told me that's how its done so I won't do it. I also wanted to put him in gymnastics but they told me I can't stay, they don't even want me in the building. So unfortunately I'm not doing that either. All of this really makes me wonder about other parents. Are we really that strange to not want to leave our children alone? I guess so!
NiteNicole's Avatar NiteNicole 05:13 PM 08-14-2003
I have never heard of having a parent in the water for swim lessons. And I've taught dozens of kids to swim. Some of them will cut up and cry for as long as they think the parent might possibly "rescue" them. Remove the parents, nine times out of ten the kid calms down and actually has a good time.

Honestly, it does sound like you're disrupting what the instructor is trying to do. If you can't at least give him or her a chance with the child then you might as well teach your child yourself. I don't mean that snarky, I'm just telling you the truth. As an instructor I would be very frustrated if a parent wanted me to teach the child to swim but wouldn't give the child a chance to develop some trust with ME in the water.
noodle4u's Avatar noodle4u 05:48 PM 08-14-2003
I would never dunk my child under water against her wishes, and absolutely nothing could convince me to let someone else do it.
You did the right thing imo to get back in the water.
I dont think your child is at risk for drowning. Not with you being there. Can a two yr old save herself if she nows how to swim anyways? What were the scenarios for these statistics?
I took this class that was water arobics for mom(30 min) and then fun and games in the warm pool for babies. Read FUN and GAMES. Well the woman who was lifegaurd/instructor for the FUN and GAMES was a real freak about control and how the babies must be dunked under water or they would never learn to swim and she tried to horrifie us with stories about almost drownings. All of which were the instructors fault too, but I dont think she was thinking of that aspect when she told us. We actually had a tug of war over my daughter when I would not hand her over. Iwas labeled the freak, who had the controlling child that was going to grow up to be a horrible adult. All because I followed my instincts and let my child decide on the comfort level. I was expecting songs and fun and in general happy times, but I guess not.
Maybe just go to the pool and let your child get comfortable on her own, and when she is ready introduce holding her breath, blowing bubbles, floating kicking, all that stuff.
sozobe's Avatar sozobe 12:48 AM 08-15-2003
Originally posted by NiteNicole
I have never heard of having a parent in the water for swim lessons.
My dd and I took a class this summer, her first swimming class, that was called "Parent/Tot Swim." It was for 2 to 4 yr-olds, and was with a parent, and two instructors. It was GREAT. Dd loved it. She learned all of the necessary skills (blowing bubbles, dunking, kicking, gliding), and had a great time. Zero trauma.

I don't see how it can possibly be questioned that having a child so traumatized as in the OP -- complete with nightmares -- is a bad thing.
mom3's Avatar mom3 01:06 AM 08-15-2003
I don't think your child is at risk for drowning. Not with you being there.
This is exactly the reason I put all three of my sons in swim lessons. According to the research I did, most children drown when adults ARE present. Usually it's in a group situation where everyone thinks someone else is watching the child and the fall into the pool undetected (it goes without saying that there should always be an adult in the water when a child is swimming). My boys all went into the water with just the instructor and cried but now they can float on their backs and that gives me a few extra seconds to get to them before it's too late. My oldest son can even jump off the diving board and swim to the side of the pool. This may not be for everyone and it probably doesn't sound very AP but for us it was the right choice, especially since we have a pool of our own. I took similar lessons as a small child and hated the lessons (not the water or swimming itself) but as a result I am a very strong swimmer. It all depends on your proximity to pools, lakes, ocean as to what is best and safest for your child. If you just want a fun water activity for you and your dd then find another instructor.
spero's Avatar spero 01:08 AM 08-15-2003
My sil is a certified swim instructor. She never, EVER dunks a child herself. If a child won't put their own face in the water, she informs them (and their parents) that she can't teach them to swim. Period.

I think it is totally traumatizing to be dunked...I still freak out when someone does it to me, even in fun.
mamaduck's Avatar mamaduck 01:09 AM 08-15-2003
Our YMCA has the parent in the water with the child until they are 3 yo. They do games and such, and gently introduce the babies and toddlers to kicking, bobs, etc.. All the classes for under 3 yos involve the parent!

When they turn 3 they encourage the parents to enroll them in the classes for big kids, and the parents are not allowed to stay. For children (like mine) who have a hard time with this, they offer a transitional class for 3 and 4 year olds where the parent joins in for half the lessons, then sits on the side of the pool for a few lessons, then on the bleachers, and then finally in the waiting area outside. Its a very gradual kind of transition, and if they need to, the children in this age range can take this class several times.

I've never, never, never seen a teacher force a child's head under the water. That's HORRIBLE. I would have had my child out of there right away. You did the right thing!

Editting to add that my 3 yo did the transitional class this summer with my dh, and there was zero trauma. AND -- he learned real swimming skills. The same exact skills that the 3 yo. in the independent classes learned. His skills are coming along nicely. He swam 25 yards with a cube on his back yesterday, and is comfortable with jumping off the diving board (with his cube) and putting his face in the water for bobs.

lilyka's Avatar lilyka 01:45 AM 08-15-2003
My dd just got done wit her first round of swimming lessons. The teacher was excellent. everyone did a good job even if they never learned anything. just trying your best and doing better than you did at the last lesson was rewarded with heaps of praise . (i shoud mention that most of the kids were betwqeen 5 and 7. ) Parents weren't allowed in the pool but we were *required* to stay in the pool area . the only time children were reprimanded (and still gently) or asked to leave is when they were talking or not following instructions (such as don't climb on that ot stop talking). we will be starting my 3 year old in a couple of weeks and parents must stay in the pool with thier children at all times. I can't imagine any of the instructors getting angry if my dd refuses to put her face in the water. I mean, heck it is my money and time being wasted. what are they loosing. every lesson wasted is one more I will be paying them for. We swim for fun around here. I would never make it a misreable thing for my child. My oldest dd is an excellent swimmer. Once she panics though all her lessons go right out the window. i doubt teaching 2 year old swim will do much good at saving his life in the long run. if they fell in unexpectedly hey would probably panic and be unable to think. there are surer methods of keeping our chiild safe. gates, locks and parental supervision.

And specifically o your situation. I can see her not wanting you in the pool. but I don't see why she didn't just say "sorry of she can't be in the water with me alone she just isn't ready." and in the long run it isn't like you were disrupting a class or anything.

hoplding a child under water and forcing them to follow commands while they scream and thrash and try to get away because they are terrafied doesnt breed trust. It breeds compliance out of fear. very different things.
girrllie's Avatar girrllie 02:08 AM 08-15-2003
Thank you so much for your replies on both sides of the coin. yes, I've also read that most kids drown when adults are present. We already had a scary incident this summer when one of the kids went under and finally someone noticed him. We have no idea how long he was under, but he nursed for 30 minutes, very unusual for him. he was alright luckily. We're around pools all the time at our playgroups, being in Florida.

I never thought about it from a trusting the instructor perspective. I actually really trusted the instructor, did not think that she would do anything that would truly harm DD. But just did not feel comfortable having DD cry the entire time, asking me for help, and me not being responsive to her. yes, I felt like a total overprotective freak! Tried to supress those feelings and finally went with my instincts. I think our goals were different - the instructor was trying to teach her to swim and I wanted just an introduction to swimming skills.

I talked to the Aquatics Supervisor this morning and she's going to refund 2 days worth of lessons (that I didn't attend). She said that private lessons are not appropriate until the child is comfortable going in alone with the instructor (unless you're comfortable with crying the entire time). That the Mom and Tot lessons sound more appropriate for DD right now.

I also called another friend of mine whose DD swims like a fish at 2.5. She did the entire Mom and Tot series, said that she was always with DD in the pool and that she learned fine that way.

So we're going to do the Mom and Tot stuff for now. I may reconsider after those classes. Thanks again for your replies! It really helped me sort it out and see both sides of the issue.

Edited to add: yes, i agree with the last poster too (we must have been posting at the same time). Compliance out of fear is completely inappropriate as well as damaging. This was my instinct with DD. yes, she was kicking but out of fear and out of a feeling that if she does that, she'll get to be with mommy. that's when I jumped in and just felt like that was the opposite of what I wanted her to learn.
LuvMy2Kidz's Avatar LuvMy2Kidz 02:54 AM 08-15-2003 not WALK away from that instructor!!! We did swim lessons for both kids, and NEVER once did we have to DUNK them, that IMO is just cruel, esp. for a 2 y/o. First swim lessons are supposed to be fun, and to get baby comfortable in the water, not to torture them. Take a mommy and me class with a bunch of kids, it's more fun that way. Once she gets comfortable being in the water, sign up for a class, even if there are a gazillion kids in it(the limit at our Y was 6 kids per adult) having other kids there swimming, etc will encourage her to do the same AND the kids dont go in the water without mom if they're under 3!!

ETA: Peer pressure goes a LONG way. DS was afraid of going under(at 3.5) and our neighbors have a pool and 4 y/o that jumps off the diving board. After seeing how fun it was, he took the leap, held his nose and jumped off. He loves it!! Now he's getting braver and taking his life jacket off and swimming in the shallow end(with an adult in the water of course) He always talks about how when he gets big like G he can swim in the deep end too :LOL (G is only 8 mos older than ds lol)
MoonLissa's Avatar MoonLissa 03:20 AM 08-15-2003
I have gotten the information from a few swimming instructors (with considerable experience) that MOST kids, unless they are in the water pretty much immediately from birth will take a while to get used to the water again. Most don't really "get it" until they are about 4 or 5 years of age unless they are in the water every week.

Dunking a child in the water against their wishes is just cruel. They may eventually LEARN to swim, but they will likely hold a certain amount of fear of water for the rest of life. I can swim very well, was in the USCG as a Rescue Swimmer and actually enjoy the water. However, I do not like to swim in water that I can't see into (water at night or in ponds, lakes, etc...). My mother told me that it could have been caused by my biological father trying to teach me to swim when I was 2 and insisted on continuously dunking me a pond.

Ds is taking swimming lessons (he's 3.5) with dh and an instructor. We make agreements with ds that if he wants to get in the water (and he does), that he has to go under (with dad) X times or we immediately leave the lesson. It increases by one time each week. He doesn't like it much, but he does it and then he's REALLY proud of himself. This seems to be working very well. We have only had to leave one time and now he even goes with the instructor for a short period of time by himself. He will also go underwater with the instructor. He is getting "water safe" without unnecessary trauma. Of course, he's not ready to lifeguard yet, but he does take time to get used to things.

One of his friends is a daredevil already and will kamikaze into the waves at the beach. Even he is taking his time with instructors.

I don't think that swim instructors have to resort to harsh tactics to get kids to learn to swim. There is one child who screams for the entire lesson in terror. She doesn't speak yet. The father loses his patience and often gets in and just dunks the child whereas she screams even louder. It's distracting to the entire session. They have tried bringing her over to the kiddie pool, but she clings to the mother in terror. It just breaks my heart each week.

So, I guess it's a matter of our comfort levels. I don't think that there is anything wrong with following those gut instincts. Yes, we want our children safe, but we don't have to be cruel about teaching methods nor allow others to be cruel in their teaching methods. My perhaps-not-so-humble opinion.

BusyMommy's Avatar BusyMommy 04:18 AM 08-15-2003
I do think children behave differently when a parent is there. But...our pool doesn't do "alone" swimming lessons until age 3. 2 years MUST have a parent in the pool.
dentente's Avatar dentente 02:08 PM 08-15-2003
Swimming lessons for people younger than 4 are a total waste of time in my opinion.

The best thing you can do for your child is to buy her a class 2 PFD (lifejacket with neck pillow) and just take her in the water with you. The PFD will keep her head above the water and allow her to get comfortable with being in the water. She will learn to paddle on her own with almost no input on your part other than being there to cling to at first. She will start to have actual fun and that's what it's about. Save your money and your sanity. And BTW that instructor is smoking crack and I mean the bad kind! Who the hell dunks a baby or ANYONE for that matter? What purpose could it serve other than to traumatize your youngster? She should be reported! Run away!!!

Parenting magazine did a blurb on swimming lessons at the start of the summer and they shared my views on swimming lessons as a waste of time for younger children. Wait until she is 3 and half or 4.

saturnine25's Avatar saturnine25 03:51 PM 08-15-2003
Were the lessons done by an ISR instructor? Just wondering, because I live here in Florida, too, and I had looked into one of their courses for dd. Their "curriculum" sounds similar to what you described. Very strict with the babies, and they did not want the parent involved in any way beyond observation. I am sorry you had to go through such an awful experience. Big to you and your dd.
USAmma's Avatar USAmma 05:01 PM 08-15-2003
Abi (2.5) just came back from her third lesson. I had mixed feelings about it but the further I do this, the more I trust the instructor. I get in the water with Abi, and she is only one of two children in her class. Abi fusses a lot and is stubborn. I know the difference btwn her being really terrified, and just not wanting to do something.

So in her lessons she has to try it once even if she's kicking and shrieking, which she did the first lesson. But then after she did the thing the teacher asked she smiled and was proud of herself! I practice with her during the week at my dad's pool. After Abi figured out that her shrieking wasn't going to get her out of at least trying it once, she's now fighting a lot less and actually having fun and her confidence is very good. The teacher did dunk her but she likes it, and sputtered and then smiled.

She works better with the teacher than with me, and that's saying a lot for my reserved toddler. With me she'll sometimes just cling and whine, but with the instructor she'll actually listen to her and put her face in the water and kick. Today she actually swam for a few strokes under the water, gliding between me and the teacher!! I might do another session with her before the summer ends and this time stay out of the water, since she does better without me in there with her.

So I think it's your call. Try practicing with her and dh during the week with the things that the teacher does in class. If she just doesn't want to swim, if she's afraid of the water, maybe just give her a floatie to hang onto and have her play and learn to relax in the water and try again next summer.

Swimming lessons for people younger than 4 are a total waste of time in my opinion.
Not in my state! We have SO many drownings each summer it's so scary. A few of my friends don't have fences around their pools (no kids yet) and I just feel better if she at least knows to keep her head above the water and swim to a wall. Which is what she can almost do after 3 lessons now. It does not substitute for my supervision but it's just something she *needs* to learn here.

girrllie's Avatar girrllie 05:48 PM 08-15-2003
With me she'll sometimes just cling and whine, but with the instructor she'll actually listen to her and put her face in the water and kick.
I think that's why I kept with it for 3 days. I thought that at some point she may calm down and enjoy the instructor. But she didn't. She went the opposite way and was more and more anxious of the instructor, even with me reassuring her. I don't know the instructor's credentials, oddly enough. It was a city program so I assumed that she was credentialed. And she said she had taughts lots of toddlers (saying that most of them will jump into the water, like my child was odd or something).

DH and I discussed it extensively last night and feel like it's not right for any trauma to be associated with the water. Like if there is risidual trauma there, then in an accident situation, fear would take over instead of skills. I have no idea if that's really true though. I do think childhood trauma can stay with you, like the above poster (USCG Rescue Swimmer).

I took DD to a friend's pool this morning and she still loves the water. But she used to jump in holding my hands and now wants nothing to do with that. She wants to play on the stairs and that's about it. I think I'll just go slow with her and gradually she'll lose her fear again.

I also think swimming lessons are valuable but in my case not worth major trauma. We don't have a pool so there's a little less risk.
dentente's Avatar dentente 06:31 PM 08-15-2003
Originally posted by USAmma

Not in my state! We have SO many drownings each summer it's so scary. A few of my friends don't have fences around their pools (no kids yet) and I just feel better if she at least knows to keep her head above the water and swim to a wall. Which is what she can almost do after 3 lessons now. It does not substitute for my supervision but it's just something she *needs* to learn here.
Darshani, the problem *I* have with swimming lessons is that I feel they give parents a false sense of security. The only really sure way to "drown-proof" a baby is to stick them in a US coastguard approved Type II lifejacket that literally prevents their head from submerging. It's not going to teach them to swim but it will keep them safer and allow them the luxury of floating away from you to experiment with paddling. Nothing else will keep them from drowning aside from your undivided attention anywhere near water. Not lessons, not water wings or inflatable suits nor stern warnings to stay away from the water.

Here is the AAP recommendation. It's states what I have stated. It actually says children under 4 should not be given swimming lessons.

girrllie's Avatar girrllie 08:28 PM 08-15-2003
Denny, I'm so glad you posted that link! I have not seen that before. I totally agree - that swimming lessons should not be considered a fail safe. I think they can be a fun activity if it's a mom and tot class, etc.

And, like everything, you have to know your own child. My DD has a friend who is 2.5 who goes under water, swims, dives into an 8 foot pool and retrieves toys as a game, etc. Even so, her mother is ALWAYS in the pool with her. And everything is babyproofed - fenced pool, double locks on the doors, etc.
Greaseball's Avatar Greaseball 11:05 PM 08-15-2003
My brother drowned and still I will never force my dd to learn to swim. I don't even know how to swim myself.

I read a back issue of Mothering about traumatic swim lessons, and then I posted in TAO about it and it turns out a lot of our members have had bad experiences, due to incompetent instructors.

I don't see any reason why they can't be nice and patient and work with the family. I would never leave my dd alone with a swim instructor at any age because a lot of child molesters go after that job and make up rules like "no parents allowed."

And I don't believe in abandoning the kid at the pool if she is scared. If a kid is crying it's because there's a good reason and she should be listened to!

I cried in swimming lessons myself, right up until I was 14 and just flat out refused to go. I was laughed at in class and forced to do things I was not ready for, and as a result I never learned to swim.

If dd brings up the swim issue herself I will let her go to lessons, with me there of course.
sozobe's Avatar sozobe 11:27 PM 08-15-2003
Thanks for that link, Denny. Good to know.

I don't think they are saying that swimming lessons are a "total waste of time", though -- just that they are no guarantee (at all) of increased safety.

The parent/tot class that I attended felt very valuable because we both learned the building blocks -- she learned how to do them, I learned how to help her do them. Like, I wasn't sure how to teach her to put her face in the water, and didn't want to do it the wrong way and mess things up. (I always prefer to wait to learn how to do something the right way, than to try to re-teach a skill that had been taught the wrong way or do damage control if the wrong way is, well, wrong.) So we learned how to do that, and have continued to practice since the class. That's just a good thing for her to know as she plays around in the water. (Used to get nosefuls of water when she accidentally went under, now holds her breath, shuts her eyes, and comes up sputtering but grinning.)

Plus she just had fun with the other kids in the class -- we played games (motorboat, popcorn) and made friends.
dentente's Avatar dentente 11:58 PM 08-15-2003
OMG, Greaseball! How horrible!!!!! I'm so sorry about your brother

Well, if they are not "developmentally ready" then what is the point, really? Those classes are hecka expensive too. I think waiting until they are able to benefit from instruction makes sense but if you and the child are into it, and some kids really are into it, then why not? Just sensibly, you know? None of this no-parent, head-dunking crap. And that truly is crap and I am so glad the OP has stopped using the instructor she described. Eesh!

My dd is swimming the length of the pool in her PFD at 2.5. She might be really ready at 3.5 for lessons. I am not worrying about it and I don't think anyone else should either. That's all.

mamaduck's Avatar mamaduck 12:03 AM 08-16-2003
Denny -- I think maybe it was just a little harsh to say its a "total waste of time." Many of us have kids under 3 in swim lessons who enjoy it and get a lot out of it. I guess maybe it feels a bit judgemental to call what we're doing a "total waste of time." I agree that kids who aren't into it shouldn't be forced... but my 3 yo doesn't really do a whole lot socially, and is enjoying both acheiving in swim lessons, and being with the other children. Its not a waste of time IMO.

As far as cost -- we are already paying a membership fee at the Y, so the swim lessons end up costing us about $5 a lesson. Really doesn't seem extrodinarily high to me.
z-girl's Avatar z-girl 12:34 AM 08-16-2003
While I'd never ever ever consider it a failsafe, I do feel happy to know that my 2 year old DD is super comfortable in the water after taking parent-tot swim lessons for over a year. She knows to close her eyes and blow bubbles if she goes under water. She can get herself to the side of the pool (if she's fairly close) and climb out. She knows never to jump in without telling me and counting to 3 first. And she really loves the water and feels comfortable in it. I'd never turn my back on her, even for a second, and I'd never let her in the water without me or DH right there.

We went to the outdoor pool/play area yesterday, and she had a great time. She played in deepish water (with me right there with her) and went under water at least 20 times and happily bobbed back up. No water up her nose or anything. No fear. Just a fun time in a familiar environment.

BTW, our parent-tot classes are until age 3 and no teacher expects a parent to dunk a kid under water unless the kid is willing. DD loves going under the water so she can get to the side of the pool, climb out, and jump back in! On a fussy day, we skip the dunking altogether.

I hate to hear that there is no value in taking small kids into the water for swim class. Of couse, it shouldn't provide false confidence, but it sure isn't worthless either.

Sorry you had such a traumatic experience! I'd definitely want to be with my child until they were ready for doing it alone.
girrllie's Avatar girrllie 12:56 AM 08-16-2003
I spoke to the Aquatics Supervisor today and their instructors are REd Cross Safety Certified. We discussed that me and the instructor definitely had different goals. The instructor's entire goal is to teach the child to get to the side safely, even if they traumatize the child in the process, whereas I wanted more relaxed lessons.

I think it's unfortunate though that the instructor couldn't be more flexible. I told her at the beginning that I wanted a mom and tot class but that they were full so we did this. You would think that she would figure it out.

The other thing is that my mom paid for these lessons - there's no way we could have afforded them. So it stinks that they didn't work out better! AT least we get a credit for 2 classes and can apply it to Mom and Tot classes.

And I do think it all depends on the readiness of the child. If they are enjoying it, then why not do it with them? Just like any activity, it boils down to the enjoyment of the child. I think you have to look at that first and not get caught up in the cost, benefit, etc. - unless you're doing it just for a safety issue. Then it's really a personal decision.
Greaseball's Avatar Greaseball 02:12 AM 08-16-2003
Plenty of kids learn to swim while they are very young and have fun doing it. I think if a kid is not having fun, and especially if they are scared, it's being taught wrong.

My dd loves the water, probably because she was allowed to get used to it on her terms.
*Erin*'s Avatar *Erin* 02:32 AM 08-17-2003
i was just reading this thread and i kept having one thought..what is wrong with teaching your babies and kids to swim yourself? im saying that generally, not to one person. seriously. why spend $ on lessons, and traumatize your kids (in situations where some instructor insists on you leaving your child alone with them, and even worse, dunking them against their will (!)) when you could easily teach them to float and paddle? sounds like another situation where we mamas get guilted into spending money and time on something that is debatably useful.

we live near the ocean, and we swim in a pool often, and i never ever thought of swimming lessons, i am teaching my dd (11 mo old) every time we swim. she will learn to swim with me, having fun, and its free. and just us. i will never let her out of my sight in the water. not when shes 3 not when shes 10. period.
dentente's Avatar dentente 02:41 AM 08-17-2003
Well, PREEECISELY. That was my point all along here. My dd is 2.5 and swims well with just me and her PFD. We are currently experimenting with less flotation now that her kicking and paddling is going so well. My friends spent hundreds of dollars on pricey lessons down at the clubhouse in my community and their kids are no better swimmers than mine is and their kids are a year older than dd is. I just think swimming WITH your children is such a wonderful way to bond and to show then how not to fear the water. Fear is the enemy (not to sound all Frank Herbert-y). If you fear water, you will never be any good in it. My mother was dunked by cruel relatives and she, to this day, cannot put her head in. She's 63!

So yeah. If the lessons are with parents and not intended to drown-proof but more intended to encourage ENJOYMENT of the water then fine. Just don't expect it to do much for your youngun in terms of safety. And I really, really do think people go for the lessons thinking that THAT is what their $$$ is buying them. It isn't.

sozobe's Avatar sozobe 05:08 PM 08-17-2003
There must be several different kinds of swimming lessons that carry entirely different connotations for different people.

Here's what I think of:

Fun, cheap social activity. Cost ~$30 for 10 lessons. Met at least one little girl we are continuing to see since class ended. Learned basic skills. (I was deathly afraid of the water and never so much as put my head under until I was 10, never took any swimming classes, can kinda flop around to save my life, wouldn't know where to start in teaching dd. Now I do.)

littlemama23, I think the whole point of this thread is that there is no reason the child should be traumatized, but that doesn't preclude having lessons at all.

Meanwhile, none of this replaces swimming with dd. We go to the beach and hang out every day it is warm enough. Only now, as we're chasing and being a mama mermaid and baby mermaid or mama alligator and baby alligator or jumping off the side, every now and then I say to dd, "hey, let's blow bubbles!" or "hey, wanna glide?" It's not that dd's only relationship to the water is through lessons.
AahRee's Avatar AahRee 04:01 AM 08-24-2003
My DD had her first two swim lessons on Tuesday and Thursday of last week. They were taught by a high school girl, in a class with two other mother/child pairs. My DD was the youngest (15 months) - the other two children were 2 and 3. All three of the mamas stayed in the water with their babes the whole time. The instructor never held DD, except when I was getting into and out of the water at the beginning and end of the lesson.

I asked the instructor about goals for the class, and she said that the main goal is just to get the babes familiar with and comfortable in the water. If they are ready to blow bubbles, they can blow bubbles. If they're ready to kick, they can kick. If they're ready to go under, they can do that, too. We mostly play with water toys, sing songs and swish the babes around in the water. It's very gentle.

If you can't find a class like that, I'd skip lessons entirely. It sounds like you did the right thing going after your babe.

I must disagree that lessons are pointless for babes under 4 or 5, though. I was a waterbaby, and started lessons around my DD's age. By the time I was 3.5, I could swim a full 25-yard lap on my own. So there are kids who can learn to swim, and swim well, under age 4 or 5. But I agree that their introduction to the water should be gentle and at their own pace. I hope you can find a good class for your DC!
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