unschooling swim lessons? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 05-04-2003, 01:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all. I have a dd (4.5) who I really want to be able to swim. She enjoys the water but really is nowhere near swimming. I am wondering (still in the process of un-training my brain for unschoolilng...) if there is an age that you get worried about this? I mean, I know that everyone is on their own schedule, etc but I also really don't want her to reach adulthood as a non-swimmer. KWIM? I also have very bad memories of swimming lessons that my mom made me take as a child. Do I just encourage her more? Like get her a kickboard, etc. or just wait for her to do it on her own by taking her a lot? one of her friends swims really well and I know she wants to as well but really is not that brave or comfortable in the water....just likes to splash around.

I guess I am kind of asking....do you or should you unschool swimming?? Thanks in advance.
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#2 of 9 Old 05-04-2003, 02:10 AM
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I think it depends on the child, of course. For me, when I was little I loved the water but I really had to be taught how to swim...before I took swim lessons I couldn't figure out how to breathe out underwater so I would hold my nose with one hand and try to swim with the other. Kinda awkward. :LOL

I think good swim classes are about a lot more than technique....they're also about water safety, and how to be a strong and efficient swimmer who knows a variety of strokes. I think this is a really important thing to know how to do well and safely, and that instruction, either from an instructor or from you if you're a good swimmer, is key.

Of course there are good teachers and bad, and you can always scout the class ahead of time and go with her to make sure you're comfortable with the teacher. But I for one would not leave something that's so important safety-wise up to my child to pick up on her own.

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#3 of 9 Old 05-04-2003, 12:03 PM
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my dd just took some lessons. She was almost 3 a the time and the youngest in her class (the other kids averaged around your child's age). the class was a wonderful experience. it wasn't so much "swimming" as much as getting used to the water/feeling safe. we want to sign her up this summer for more lessons, as she asks all the time when she can go again. i would say try lessons if that is what your dd wants. you could even bring her to a class before signing her up, let her see what they are like and then let her choose. hopefully her experience will be happier than yours. good luck
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#4 of 9 Old 05-04-2003, 06:45 PM
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Unschooling is all about following the child's lead, but that doesn't mean you can't offer suggestions. Ask her if she'd like to take lessons and go from there.
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#5 of 9 Old 05-05-2003, 12:06 AM
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If she wants to try swim lessons, then you could sign her up, but I'd make sure the teacher will respect your dd's comfort level. I've had to tell swim teachers more than once that if my dd said no, then they were to respect that. I think swim lessons can be great if the child is ready for what the teacher is doing. They should never be coerced to put their head under if they aren't ready.

If you don't want to deal with lessons and finding a good teacher, just take your dd to the pool a lot. My kids learned to swim pretty young and I just took them a lot. Once they were comfortable in the water, they learned to swim pretty quickly. I think it's really important for them to be the leaders in what they want to do in the water, but you can give them lots of opportunity by going often.
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#6 of 9 Old 05-06-2003, 11:38 AM
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I went through the same questions when deciding about swim lessons. Some days my dd would say she would want them and other days she had no desire. I didn't want to push. Oddly enough, last year we moved into a complex with a pool. After taking her daily she figured it out on her own. She turned six last summer. She can still swim underwater better than above and certainly needs improvement but I think another summer at the pool will serve her well. I have told her that if she decides she would like swimming lessons she just has to ask and I'll find a class for her but she says she wants to wait until the pool opens again and she can get a feel for swimming again before she decides. I think if we do decide to go the lessons route we will try to find some reasonable private lessons. I figure a month or two of private lessons would be worth a year of group lessons since she would get the one on one attention she is used to from homeschooling and they could taylor the lessons to her current abilities. Just my 2 cents.
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#7 of 9 Old 05-06-2003, 01:54 PM
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I embrace the philosophy of unschooling. I also recognize that there are certain activities that require instruction. For example, you could self-teach yourself to be a healer, but if you want to practice as a doctor in Canada, you need to have an M.D.. I think swimming lessons are great for children so that they learn to have fun in water and RESPECT it. My 4 y.o. dd takes swimming lessons at the local pool and the ratio is 4 students to 1 instructor. I wouldn't make her go though. I think that if a child is going to take any kind of 'lessons', they need to be open to what is being taught. I do not think that taking lessons in one area negates the idea of unschooling.

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#8 of 9 Old 05-07-2003, 02:38 AM
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>>>I do not think that taking lessons in one area negates the idea of unschooling.


This is one area I really struggle with because I don't want to "push" DD. That usually means that I let her find her own resources, self-learn, etc.. But I realized that with some things, she can't really do it on her own. So, if she shows interest, I am trying to do a better job at leading on certain things. For example, last october she really started showing an interest in learning to read. I figured, great if she does it by herself, she was ready. After a few months, I realized she *was* showing she was ready--- by asking, but she needed a bit of help to get there. We picked up Hooked on Phonics in January, she did it on and off for a month and then stopped. I am so glad because she got what she needed.

Some things are just easier learned with lessons, or classes, or actual "how to" books, others not so. Sounds like you are doing a great job!

Whatever you decide, keep me posted (I'm trying to decide if I should put DD in swim lessons next fall or not).




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#9 of 9 Old 05-07-2003, 11:58 PM
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We are unschoolers.

My feeling towards classes is that they are fine if my children show an interest. However, I make sure my children know that they do not have to go and that they can stop anytime they wish, no matter how much money we spent or how much it inconveniences the class.

I know a lot of parents feel that if a child starts something they should finish it, but I know that can be very painful to a child. They are just beginning to explore and do not have the experiences behind them that we do that helps us decide whether we might like a class or not.

I also make sure that the teachers are okay with my staying around and being involved if that is what my children want.

My daughters had wonderful experiences with swimming lessons last summer. My six-year-old was very excited at the end of the summer that she got the card that said she could go on to level three. Now that she hasn't been swimming in several months, she is very nervous about level three and really wants to go back into level two. We've been talking about this. I want her to do what is comfortable for her, but I also know that the teachers will move her up or down in the beginning of the season if they feel she is not ready or is too advanced. But I will keep my daughters fears/needs/wants at the top of my priorities.
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