Swim Lessons (Resistance) -- x-posted to The Childhood Years - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-02-2010, 09:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son is turning five tomorrow, and has never loved playing in water. In fact, for the longest time he would stand in the bath and in the outdoor wading pool. He never wanted to go in water any deeper than that -- until this summer. He surprised us by going right in to a hotel pool and then his grandparent's pool, walking around the shallow end, kicking, hanging on to a kickboard, etc. So I thought he might be ready for swim lessons.

Today was the first lesson in a small group (four kids including him, two of them he knows) in a non-cholorinated pool with a really nice young teacher. At first he willingly walked over with the other kids, and then when the teacher asked if he wanted to sit on the side he asked if he could walk down the stairs instead. He did that, and stood there kicking gently for a bit and then suddenly got upset and came to me. No matter what I said or how kindly the teacher invited him to come sit by the pool, he would not leave my side.

In the dressing room he started pinching me, and then when we got home he was telling me, "Go away, pest!"

So I don't know if I should just say, "Fine, we tried it, he's not going for it" or make him continue going, even if he just sits next to me. The lessons are Monday through Thursday for two weeks, half an hour sessions. It's not even the money ($75) -- I just don't know what to do.

I asked him what he didn't like, and as far as I can tell he doesn't like that the teacher is talking to the kids (making up games to show them how to do things). He really hates to be "taught" anything.

I put this here in addition to cross-posting to The Childhood Years because we unschool, and while I think swimming is an important skill to learn and I know my kid needs a little push sometimes, my philosophy in general is more one of following his lead and not bribing or punishing.

Advice would be very much appreciated.

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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Old 08-02-2010, 11:21 PM
 
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I don't have time to make a long comment. My son is also resistant to be instructed so I won't even try swim lessons. He taught himself how to swim this summer. Although he has the skills to swim, he lacks the confidence to actually do it in deep water. (He swam in 4 foot water about 7', got scared and turned back to the steps.) One day, when he decides, he will swim because he has figured out how to do it. Here is a thread where I describe how he taught himself to swim.

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...highlight=swim

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Old 08-03-2010, 03:32 AM
 
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I've just been through a similar situation. My kids have enjoyed wading in natural settings (streams and lakes) for a few years now but actively resisted lessons. There was no point in pushing because DD especially gave such a violent negative reaction. I got a lot of flack from family members insisting that I simply HAD to put them in swimming lessons, like it was a matter of life and death! (it can be, I know, but wasn't for us)...

So, this summer I finally convinced them to try swimming lessons (mostly it required me totally backing off, then a friend started talking about how he was gonna have a pool setup this summer and I pointed out to DD that it might limit her ability to go over there since I'd have to be there to supervise within arms reach)...

Son took to it immediately but on the first day DD got totally freaked out b/c the teacher wanted them to enter the pool from the edge in deep water. She refused to go back in and I've learned over the years to just let it go. As it turns out, we had to go back b/c son was still taking lessons at the same time (different group) and they invited DD to join his class with me in the water with her (they were in the kiddie pool). To make a long story short we ended up back in her original class and got through the lessons and DD made amazing improvements but I had to be in the water with her and it was rough going at first. And she didn't complete the requirements but everyone was okay with that. The only reason I did this is b/c we were there with son anyways and she was okay with it. If not I would have let it go.

So my advice to you is to just let it go. Your son is still young (DD turned 8 this year) and frankly kids can learn to swim themselves. If I had taken my kids swimming regularly they would have figured it out on their own. They'd made big leaps each of the two summers that we started playing the water with them. Now they still can't swim, they've only had the one set of lessons, but I got them lifejackets and now they are swimming around in deep water with no issues, having a ball. I can't get them out of the water! It's only a matter of time before they'll decide they don't need the lifejackets and they'll do it on their own.

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Old 08-03-2010, 04:42 AM
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Hi OP. OUr story is different, but shares similarities, so thought I'd share.

I'm definitly a parent who does very few-to-no classes when they are young. I'm lazy. I don't see why they need it (my kids, personally), and generally they don't want to be apart from me for a SECOND when they are under 5-6. So I never put my kids in any lessons at all until they were older. They did soccer classes, which were taught in a super fun non-teachy way, from 3.5 on, and adored it, and I stayed and helped. So they were not averse to classes, but we definitly found all the hassle involved not worth it, so we stayed out of them.

Fast forward to them being 5 and 6.5, I put them in a homeschoolers beginner swimming class. Them and two others. The other two swam like fish, mine could not go under water, period. The teacher took them all to the diving board in the 2nd class. My kids were in tears and were out of those lessons that day.

So a year later, i called our local rec centre and said i was interested in prvate lessons for swmming, and explained our situation (homeschooled, heads above water, total distrust of teachers) and they said they had just the teacher for us. A lovely, wonderful woman, who worked with them for 2 years before she retired (in her late 70's by then). they grew to trust her and listen to her.

Okay, my point; they loved prvate lesson because there was no game-playin, psychologically speaing. She never said You're the tree and I'm the woodcutter, I'll chop you down and you fall in the water . . . all that disguise teaching as fun stuff. She just treated them like little adults, which is how we treat them. And that resonated with them and they liked it. Al of us feel an instant 'blech' when we hear sing-song teachiness. We now it when we hear it. Where the teacher is trying to trick the kids into doing the deed. The kids see the trick, and feel distrust and feel disrespected. To us it's a mainstream perspective of children, that they are empty vessels for elders to control and fill with knowledge. Not our scene.


So, yes to Piglet, you can so let it go, swimming is not a do or die thing at all. What ever is? but if you want another option, after some time has passed, maybe look into private lesons. they're not cheap, but they're totally worth it IMO. I've sat around and watched group lessons al the years my kids did their privates, and they are often such a big waste of time, purely in the sense that to get 4-5 kids to focus, in a busy pool, and learn, and evaluate them, and and and . . it's just nuts!

hth.

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Old 08-03-2010, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, my point; they loved prvate lesson because there was no game-playin, psychologically speaing. She never said You're the tree and I'm the woodcutter, I'll chop you down and you fall in the water . . . all that disguise teaching as fun stuff. She just treated them like little adults, which is how we treat them. And that resonated with them and they liked it. Al of us feel an instant 'blech' when we hear sing-song teachiness. We now it when we hear it. Where the teacher is trying to trick the kids into doing the deed. The kids see the trick, and feel distrust and feel disrespected. To us it's a mainstream perspective of children, that they are empty vessels for elders to control and fill with knowledge. Not our scene.
Thank you for articulating how I was feeling but could not find the words to express. I did a structured gym class with DS this last winter and he HATED.IT. I mean, he liked it enough to want to go, but he wanted to just run around and do what he wanted, take part in the games he liked and ignore the rest. The teacher was big on "this is preparing you for school, you need to learn to follow directions." Henry didn't get that at all.

The class he LOVED at the rec center was an art class with a teacher (who has since become a good friend) who didn't care if my DS took the project she had laid out and did something completely different with it. In fact, by the end of it he was rummaging through the art room cupboards (with her permission) for materials, and she thought it was great.

So even though the swim teacher was very kind and mellow, and not annoyingly patronizing, she WAS using games to get the kids to learn things. And I think this is the problem my son has with it.

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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Old 08-03-2010, 11:53 AM
 
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I think 5 might be too early for classes in general, for some children, and for classes for a child who is unsure about water and about being "taught". DD is 8, and only recently became interested in classes. DS (5.5) is very interested in taking classes, but is not ready to follow directions.

I think if he is open to going to the pool and observing, this is an excellent option, as long as there are not string attached, and he is truly free to just observe, and knows he won't be manipulated into going into the water unless he wants to.

When he is ready he might internalise some of the concepts and apply them later. FWIW, DD learned to swim on her own, when she was 6. Now she is happily taking swimming classes to improve her skills--her idea entirely.

Also, FWIW, I was forced to learn to swim as a child. I am a really good swimmer. If it wasn't for my kids, I would never go to a pool.

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 08-03-2010, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't have time to make a long comment. My son is also resistant to be instructed so I won't even try swim lessons. He taught himself how to swim this summer. Although he has the skills to swim, he lacks the confidence to actually do it in deep water. (He swam in 4 foot water about 7', got scared and turned back to the steps.) One day, when he decides, he will swim because he has figured out how to do it.
What a great story about your son. I have a feeling my son would be the same way.

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So my advice to you is to just let it go. Your son is still young (DD turned 8 this year) and frankly kids can learn to swim themselves. If I had taken my kids swimming regularly they would have figured it out on their own. They'd made big leaps each of the two summers that we started playing the water with them. Now they still can't swim, they've only had the one set of lessons, but I got them lifejackets and now they are swimming around in deep water with no issues, having a ball. I can't get them out of the water! It's only a matter of time before they'll decide they don't need the lifejackets and they'll do it on their own.
I guess we just need to take him to a pool more. I was shocked by how outgoing he was about the water this summer...maybe I'm just pushing too hard.

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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Old 08-03-2010, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think 5 might be too early for classes in general, for some children, and for classes for a child who is unsure about water and about being "taught". DD is 8, and only recently became interested in classes. DS (5.5) is very interested in taking classes, but is not ready to follow directions.

I think if he is open to going to the pool and observing, this is an excellent option, as long as there are not string attached, and he is truly free to just observe, and knows he won't be manipulated into going into the water unless he wants to.

When he is ready he might internalise some of the concepts and apply them later. FWIW, DD learned to swim on her own, when she was 6. Now she is happily taking swimming classes to improve her skills--her idea entirely.

Also, FWIW, I was forced to learn to swim as a child. I am a really good swimmer. If it wasn't for my kids, I would never go to a pool.
It's just so confusing when all the families around us are signing their kids up for classes and activities left and right. Not that I agree with their parenting or schooling choices, mind you, but that pressure is still there for me.

He doesn't want to go to the pool there at all, not when lessons are in session. It's SUPER HOT, and noisy, and even sitting on the closest bench we can't hear what the instructor is saying, so I don't really blame him.

I was forced to take swim lessons all summer long for years and years, too, and know all the strokes -- but I would never choose to go swimming either. My DH grew up with a pool and never learned strokes or took many lessons, but he has a blast with DS in the water.

Formerly New Mama to Henry, born August 2005 and Silas, born November 2010.
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Old 08-03-2010, 12:09 PM
 
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Okay, my point; they loved prvate lesson because there was no game-playin, psychologically speaing. She never said You're the tree and I'm the woodcutter, I'll chop you down and you fall in the water . . . all that disguise teaching as fun stuff. She just treated them like little adults, which is how we treat them. And that resonated with them and they liked it. Al of us feel an instant 'blech' when we hear sing-song teachiness. We now it when we hear it. Where the teacher is trying to trick the kids into doing the deed. The kids see the trick, and feel distrust and feel disrespected. To us it's a mainstream perspective of children, that they are empty vessels for elders to control and fill with knowledge. Not our scene.
This is so true! DD is 8 and is only now ready and willing to look beyond this and enjoy "typical" kids summer classes / camps. She sees through this, and finds it sometimes annoying and sometimes amusing.

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 08-03-2010, 12:19 PM
 
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It's just so confusing when all the families around us are signing their kids up for classes and activities left and right. Not that I agree with their parenting or schooling choices, mind you, but that pressure is still there for me.
I can certainly relate to the appeal and pressure. There's certainly the tendency to schedule many classes, even among homeschooled kids. It could be true that some kids are ready at this age. I know that mine were not, plus I don't really see the need. 5 is still SO young!

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He doesn't want to go to the pool there at all, not when lessons are in session. It's SUPER HOT, and noisy, and even sitting on the closest bench we can't hear what the instructor is saying, so I don't really blame him.
This is my experience from my childhood--disorienting, confusing, couldn't understand the instructor at all.

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I was forced to take swim lessons all summer long for years and years, too, and know all the strokes -- but I would never choose to go swimming either. My DH grew up with a pool and never learned strokes or took many lessons, but he has a blast with DS in the water.
So here you go. You know your answer.

I do agree swimming IS a very important skill, but it doesn't have to be achieved at 5!

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 08-03-2010, 02:08 PM
 
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Did you have a chance to read the thread http://www.mothering.com/discussions...highlight=swim

I'd recommend taking your child to a wading pool with they toys I mentioned (big plastic truck to push on bottom, balls, dive toys, and kick boards) and just let him play. Oh and goggles made a HUGE difference for our son regarding putting his face in the water. If a friend of his can go with you all the better (especially if the friend knows how to swim.) Then sit back and watch him learn to swim.

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Old 08-03-2010, 03:47 PM
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OP, there is also the choice to just keep doing what you have been. That he's been wading in lakes/rivers and loving it, so stick with that. It doesn't follow that loves wading=time for lessons, kwim? It sounds like things were low-stress before, so head back to that.


I hear you on doing differently than everyone else. It's hard not to get sucked into their scene of classes casses classes, but you'll benefit from staying true to your family's needs.

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Old 08-04-2010, 01:49 AM
 
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It's just so confusing when all the families around us are signing their kids up for classes and activities left and right. Not that I agree with their parenting or schooling choices, mind you, but that pressure is still there for me.
I so totally know what you mean. DD couldn't do any classes without me there so when she turned 3 and there were no more "mum and tot" classes it was awful. I had to learn to just let it go after many tearful attempts. A few short years later and she was bouncing into classes (ones that she wanted to do, of course).

The private lesson suggestions is excellent. I was gonna go this route but they weren't going to be offering them until fall and the kids were primed to give lessons a try so I jumped in with the group lessons. Also, just taking them to public swims and hanging around in the water with them is great. I hate swimming in public pools so we really didn't do much of that. With summer here we are going to our local "swimming hole" (a great river spot) several times a week.

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Old 08-04-2010, 10:31 AM
 
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This is how my dd learned to swim: we had a floating ring which she used at the beginning. She got used to being in the water and moving around, kicking etc. Then one day I inflated it only 1/2 way. She did fine. Thus we gradually inflated it less and one day (this summer) she went without.

She also resists being taught and spends most of her time playing with the water , observing how it flows, or making sand castles if we are at the pond. But somewhere along the way she figured out how to get from point A to point B in the water as well. Maybe someday she will learn proper form for swimming, but I am happy that she could even learn this much on her own. Until she did it, I always wondered whether it was even possible at this age to learn without lessons.

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Old 08-08-2010, 07:14 PM
 
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I'll just share our experience -- we were in the water with them from a very early age, and we go swimming a lot. We've never tried to get them to learn some skill or other -- it either comes naturally just from being in the water a lot or they see other people doing it and at some point decide they want to do it too. All my kids are very comfortable in the water, and they can dive and swim underwater and jump off the diving board.
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Old 08-13-2010, 04:12 PM
 
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I'm in the "let it go" club unless your family has a pressing need for him to be water safe. It sounds like he's either just not ready for that kind of class or that he's not that type of learner. Giving him a lot of play time in the water so that he can figure things out himself may be the best way he learns.

I did want to comment on all the remarks about teachers who try to "trick kids into learning with games." Kids play. Kids are playful creatures. (Well, most kids.) I don't see a teacher using a playful approach toward communication and learning as a trick or something negative. Some kids definitely respond better to a more straightforward approach, but many kids really enjoy playful learning. Especially kids as young as 5 years old. I've got one of each and it's been interesting figuring out what clicks with each kiddo. They groove to very different learning scenarios, with one being very much a classic unschooler by personality, in the sense that many people think of when they think "unschooler." And my other loves taking classes and interacting with other people, especially in play. She learns playfully and seeks out teachers who approach learning the same way. I don't see that as wrong. It's just her thing.
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Old 08-13-2010, 04:38 PM
 
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I did want to comment on all the remarks about teachers who try to "trick kids into learning with games." Kids play. Kids are playful creatures. (Well, most kids.) I don't see a teacher using a playful approach toward communication and learning as a trick or something negative. Some kids definitely respond better to a more straightforward approach, but many kids really enjoy playful learning. Especially kids as young as 5 years old. I've got one of each and it's been interesting figuring out what clicks with each kiddo. They groove to very different learning scenarios, with one being very much a classic unschooler by personality, in the sense that many people think of when they think "unschooler." And my other loves taking classes and interacting with other people, especially in play. She learns playfully and seeks out teachers who approach learning the same way. I don't see that as wrong. It's just her thing.
I agree with this. Two of my kids really respond to playful approaches to learning, and my 4 y.o. in particular loves the "pretend you're a tree and let the teacher chop you down" game. Something can be a bad fit for some kids, without being inherently bad.
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Old 08-13-2010, 04:44 PM
 
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Swimming and riding a bike are non-negotiable.


That said, maybe try again next year.
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Old 08-13-2010, 04:55 PM
 
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Swimming and riding a bike are non-negotiable.


That said, maybe try again next year.
I wouldn't necessarily agree that they're non-negotiable ... BUT I think most kids will pick up these skills given the opportunity. My now 10yo dd has generally resisted being "taught," similar to some other kids on this thread -- but she taught herself to swim at age 4 and is quite a strong swimmer now. No need for lessons.

We never forced bike reading either. She really wanted a bike and we managed to buy her one for her 10th birthday. She struggled a bit while practicing in our driveway and in front of our house. Then one late afternoon or evening I took her to the parking lot of our neighborhood high school.

With all that space, she suddenly took off and has been riding like a pro ever since.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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Old 08-13-2010, 05:31 PM
 
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Swimming and riding a bike are non-negotiable.


That said, maybe try again next year.
Really? Why?

I do see them as important skills (swimming more so than riding a bike), but non-negotiable? This doesn't fit the unschooling philosophy, does it?

How would you deal if your child wasn't interested in either, or worse, was fearful?

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 08-13-2010, 05:42 PM
 
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Really? Why?

I do see them as important skills (swimming more so than riding a bike), but non-negotiable? This doesn't fit the unschooling philosophy, does it?

How would you deal if your child wasn't interested in either, or worse, was fearful?
I'm not philomom, but I thought I'd jump in on this one. Water safety is non-negotiable in our family, too, because we live near the shore and my family holds most of their family events either on a dock or on a boat. But my youngest was born with an inherent dislike of deep water.

Hmm.

DH and I both really wanted him to be safe near water, and we really wanted him to feel comfortable near the water, too. That's something you can't force, and we didn't want to go that route anyway. It took a couple of years of constant exposure to the water and a lot of creative approaches and patience. We tried a number of swimming lessons, which by and large didn't work for him. We would always back off when he expressed discomfort, wait a bit, then try again. For a kid with an inborn dislike of water, he's always like the bath, so we gave him lots and lots and lots of time in the tub. Then we picked up a couple "turtle" pools via freecycle and filled them with various things -- water, ooblek, oatmeal, sand, etc., and let him go to town. Then we tried a friend's backyard inflatable pool. So he went from the tub to a wading pool to pool that comes up to his chest. And so on. He's still not comfortable in water over his head where he can't see the bottom, but now he'll go in a clear pool that's over his head and he'll trust us to hold him in the river or at the lake as long as we can touch the bottom.

So he's not there yet, but he's light years from where he started, and he wouldn't be there at all if we had either backed off entirely and let him keep his fear or if we had forced the issue and traumatized him. I honestly feel that we did the right thing in pushing the issue, because his fear was limiting his ability to participate in something that he really does enjoy. But I'm very glad we took the slow route with him and have let him process the experience at his own speed.

We also invested in a VERY good life jacket.
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Old 08-13-2010, 06:35 PM
 
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See, I think water safety is non-negotiable too, and I think most parents do. Only for me, parental supervision and lifejackets where appropriate are the best ways to ensure safety.

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Old 08-13-2010, 06:36 PM
 
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Swimming and riding a bike are non-negotiable.


That said, maybe try again next year.
I understand where you're coming from, I think. Every year kids in my area die because they were playing near or in water and couldn't swim (there is a LOT of natural water in the area). For this reason, my kids don't have a choice about swim lessons. Their teachers are gentle and kind, and they generally enjoy their lessons, but if they didn't like the lessons they had, we would replace them with other lessons/methods, not just stop-- even when they weren't ready to be proficient swimmers, they were learning skills that would help them be safer in the water.

I think biking is an important skill, because it's something everyone is expected to know how to do, and it comes up more often than you'd expect. My girls learned on the late side, and it was more awkward than being a later reader, over and over. But despite the awkwardness, there was no way to force them learn before they were ready, and once they were ready they learned quickly.
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Old 08-13-2010, 07:43 PM
 
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I also agree that swimming is non-negotiable and I like earthmama369's approach. I don't think relying on supervision and lifejackets is the answer. The problem is what happens if your kid gets in the water without you realizing it. That's when kids drown. I think something like 60% of the time when kids drown the family didn't even realize the child was near the water. (Which is why I do not want a pool/hot tub in my yard. I also don't go to pool parties where my attention could be taken away from my kids.)

I actually have a bit of the opposite problem from the OP. My daughter (turned 2 3 days ago) is fearless in the water. She just jumps right in whether we're in the water or not, goes under, kicks to the surface, takes a breath, then sinks and can't get back up again. I am trying to teach her to float on her back but she does not want to learn that. She is the type of kid that could conceivably jump in a pool because it would be fun but with no one in there to save her she'd drown. If she would just float on her back...

We take the kids swimming multiple times a week hoping they will increase their skills to be safe in an unexpected emergency. They've both made great progress. Next summer they will both be great swimmers. Right now my son has the ability but lacks the confidence. My daughter has the confidence but lacks the ability. Another year should make them both much safer in the water.

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Old 08-14-2010, 02:41 AM
 
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So he's not there yet, but he's light years from where he started, and he wouldn't be there at all if we had either backed off entirely and let him keep his fear or if we had forced the issue and traumatized him.
I don't think backing off equals "letting them keep their fear". You have no real way of knowing what time and maturity would have done to that fear even if you had backed off. Or maybe you do, but that would apply only to your child.

Some kids just cannot be pushed, not even "gently", until they are ready.

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Old 08-14-2010, 09:58 AM
 
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My son didn't take swim lessons until he turned 8 (when he was truly ready) and he was swimming by his fourth lesson. I read here about kids taking all these lessons and eventually learning to swim. It seems like a lot of those lessons were pretty unnecessary.

If you believe learning to swim is the best protection against drowning then they need to be swimming as soon as they're mobile! Toddlers are at risk for drowning too, perhaps even most at risk (?). So is learning to swim by age two non-negotiable? What is it about age 4 that makes people think they need to really push the swim lessons? I also worry that parents can get a false sense of security if their child can swim and in turn supervise them less well.
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Old 08-14-2010, 10:28 AM
 
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I'm not philomom, but I thought I'd jump in on this one. Water safety is non-negotiable in our family, too, because we live near the shore and my family holds most of their family events either on a dock or on a boat. But my youngest was born with an inherent dislike of deep water.

Hmm.

DH and I both really wanted him to be safe near water, and we really wanted him to feel comfortable near the water, too. That's something you can't force, and we didn't want to go that route anyway. It took a couple of years of constant exposure to the water and a lot of creative approaches and patience. We tried a number of swimming lessons, which by and large didn't work for him. We would always back off when he expressed discomfort, wait a bit, then try again. For a kid with an inborn dislike of water, he's always like the bath, so we gave him lots and lots and lots of time in the tub. Then we picked up a couple "turtle" pools via freecycle and filled them with various things -- water, ooblek, oatmeal, sand, etc., and let him go to town. Then we tried a friend's backyard inflatable pool. So he went from the tub to a wading pool to pool that comes up to his chest. And so on. He's still not comfortable in water over his head where he can't see the bottom, but now he'll go in a clear pool that's over his head and he'll trust us to hold him in the river or at the lake as long as we can touch the bottom.

So he's not there yet, but he's light years from where he started, and he wouldn't be there at all if we had either backed off entirely and let him keep his fear or if we had forced the issue and traumatized him. I honestly feel that we did the right thing in pushing the issue, because his fear was limiting his ability to participate in something that he really does enjoy. But I'm very glad we took the slow route with him and have let him process the experience at his own speed.

We also invested in a VERY good life jacket.
How old is your child?

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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Old 08-14-2010, 12:37 PM
 
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My son didn't take swim lessons until he turned 8 (when he was truly ready) and he was swimming by his fourth lesson. I read here about kids taking all these lessons and eventually learning to swim. It seems like a lot of those lessons were pretty unnecessary.

If you believe learning to swim is the best protection against drowning then they need to be swimming as soon as they're mobile! Toddlers are at risk for drowning too, perhaps even most at risk (?). So is learning to swim by age two non-negotiable? What is it about age 4 that makes people think they need to really push the swim lessons? I also worry that parents can get a false sense of security if their child can swim and in turn supervise them less well.
My older kids had a pretty strong aversion to putting their faces in the water, and we didn't start swim lessons with them until they were about 6. My youngest loves the water and tends to be over-confident. He started lessons at 4.

My goal is for my kids to be competent swimmers by the time they are allowed to free-range at friends' houses, because so many people around here have a pond or other wetland on their land (we live in a rural area and many people live on several acres). I think parental supervision is the best water safety measure for preschoolers and toddlers, but at some point kids get old enough that watching them every second seems inappropriate, and that's the age where it would scare me for my kids to be unable to swim, for example if they fell off a friend's dock and couldn't get to the ladder or an outstretched hand.
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Old 08-15-2010, 03:17 AM
 
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I made the foolish decision to sign my younger kids up for swimming lessons during the same time slot as their 11 year old sister who was taking snorkeling lessons. All the way there, they were excited about "swim lessons," once we walked into the pool area (which was massive- and no stairs into the pool) they were firmly on the fence, and when the Mom put her boys screaming into the water, all bets were off. Of the class of 5, not including my boys, 3 screamed for the whole two weeks. It was painful for me to watch and my boys ended up sitting with me watching every day. My boys actually empathised with the screaming kids, saying they must be really scared. One of the mother's (of a screaming child) looked so rudely at me the whole time, as if I was hurting my kids for not forcing them in the water. I just ignored her.

We had a really fun time observing though. I did a lot of commenting- like watching some of the older kids diving off the diving board and a few of them who had to turn back because it was too scary for them. Then the next time they would jump! We would marvel at their bravery. Our class had one little girl, Mikayla who wanted to spend more time under the water than on top. We talked a lot about her too.

Then, we would go home, and at the end of the day we would go over to our neighbors pool, and the boys would, on their own initiative, go about practicing the things they had seen that day. When my older son decided to try to put his head under water, we dubbed the action , "the Mikayla" and he would say, "hey mom! Watch me do the mikayla!" and then proudly dunk his head under. They are not swimming yet, but they can do everything and more that they were expected to do in the swim class, and joyfully and without pressure. I'm still sad for the screamers
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:41 AM
 
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My older kids had a pretty strong aversion to putting their faces in the water, and we didn't start swim lessons with them until they were about 6. My youngest loves the water and tends to be over-confident. He started lessons at 4.

My goal is for my kids to be competent swimmers by the time they are allowed to free-range at friends' houses, because so many people around here have a pond or other wetland on their land (we live in a rural area and many people live on several acres). I think parental supervision is the best water safety measure for preschoolers and toddlers, but at some point kids get old enough that watching them every second seems inappropriate, and that's the age where it would scare me for my kids to be unable to swim, for example if they fell off a friend's dock and couldn't get to the ladder or an outstretched hand.
I can see that. I think a kid can understand that as their freedom expands it will at some point require being a proficient swimmer (it doesn't sound like lessons result in this though until the child is ready). I tend to think that kids need to be willing participants, so all pushing accomplishes is to make way more drama around learning to swim than was ever necessary.

I certainly understand the need for the ability before being able to roam freely near bodies of water or go in pools/lakes, etc. without you being the one supervising. Water safety has always been a huge priority for me, so I get what everyone is saying, I just don't get where forcing it comes in (not that you did that at all ZM--but some people do, such in the above post about the screaming children).
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