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We can't afford lessons right now, but I can use the pool at my old college for free. So, I've decided to teach DS to swim. I'm a swimmer myself and have really enjoyed competing in swimming as a sport as well as just spending a lot of time in water.<br><br>
I had tried probably 8 months ago to teach DS to swim, but we ran out of $$ to use the pool, and he also seemed pretty fearful in the water. I didn't want him to develop an aversion to it, so we gave it a break. Now we're trying again. DS talks really happily about going to the pool, and gets in with me readily (he climbs down the steps holding my hand). After literally 3 minutes he wants out. Part of it is he wants to play at the poolside, part of it is he is uncomfortable in the water and a little fearful (though not as much as before). Playing at poolside really doesn't seem like a good option to me, mostly because DS' play in public revolves around running away from me as fast as he possibly can (that's another post). I certainly never force him to do anything, and provide a lot of physical and verbal support when we're doing something which might or does make him uncomfortable.<br><br>
My plan right now is to just take it pretty easy, just keep visiting the pool and hope he develops a level of comfort which would allow him to begin learning skills in the water. We don't use floaties, for a reason - I don't want him to be dependent on them, I want him to learn to swim, and he's never in the water without me anyway, so he really has no need for such a thing, IMO. We do play with some floaties, just to play with them, not to "use" them.<br><br>
Anywho - does anyone have advice on this topic? Anyone have experience with a toddler who had some fear of the pool?
 

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DS has been in a parent n tot swim class for the last 8 mos or so. They pretty much just take it slow and let the kids do whatever they are comfortable with, as you said. They usually have a few small toys to play with in the pool (things that will float), and they sing some fun pool songs ("if you're happy and you know it, splash your hands", and "ring around the rosie" & "pop goes the weasel", finishing the songs with a fun splash)-- I could picture doing those with just you and your DS. You can "swim" him around the pool a bit when he's comfortable, but at first my DS just wanted to keep his feet on the steps. Later you can move on to having him hold on to the wall and kick his feet, blowing bubbles in the water if he's comfortable, and you can show him how you like to go under the water and wait until he's interested in trying that. I think the key is just keeping it low-key and fun. And, I agree, I don't like it when kids who can't swim use floaties, either; I think it gives them a very dangerous false sense of security.
 

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I wasn't sure whether to post this or not, but here it goes.<br>
I got certified to teach infant/toddler 'swim' classes by the Red Cross just before I had dd. They were parent/child classes, just basically getting kids accustomed to the water. I was very much against the whole survival swimming classes, since I'd heard horror stories about them, like the kids were basically thrown in the pool and left to figure out how to float. And that most of the kids had a fear of the pool/water after these classes. I taught a few sessions of the class and was dismayed to find that the kids were usually crying, the parent were distracted and anxious, and by the end of the 8 week course, most had no new skills, most were still not really comfortable in the water, and I felt like the parents could have very easily done what they were paying me to do. So I stopped teaching.<br>
Fast forward 2 years, dd is two, and I am looking into swim classes for her. One of her friends is going through the survival swim classes. I go to watch one class, knowing I'll cry when I see the kids in the pool struggling and crying. I go and what I see is two of the most calm, quiet, gentle teachers helping babies and toddlers learn to float. The kids are not screaming their heads off, they have quickly learned that when they come up for air, they need to take it because they will soon go back under. It sounds so harsh that way, but really, watching it, it was so peaceful. The teachers were talking to the parent at the side of the pool, giving the children a sense of "This is not a big deal" The teachers rarely said anything to the kids, just a quick, "Ok, go to the wall now" and then sent them under. Or "You are doing great, lets float now" Not in a syrupy sweet voice, just a very calm, boring informational type voice. At the end of it (the class is 10 minutes long) I asked dd if she wanted to swim, and she said "Yeah!" I said will you go in with Mrs.Joy, and she said yeah! I am very honest with her and I refuse to sugar coat anything. I told her she would be put under the water, but that the teacher would be right there and would keep her safe.<br>
Then we went to see a typical parent/child class with dd, to see if we liked it enough to join. Low and behold, all the kids were crying, the parents were anxious, and the teachers couldn't be heard over all the noise. I watched as one child clung to her mothers neck for 30 minutes, one child did nothing but jump in from the side (into her mommy's arms) because her mom missed all the other instructions since she couldn't hear. It was chaotic, and my dd kept crawling into my lap and saying "mommy, babies are crying"<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"><br>
So....since I can't afford the survival classes ($500 for the program!!!) I read up on it, learned the techniques and am doing it with dd. You know what? She never really cried. She was of course surprised the first time she went under, but I reasurred her I was going to keep her safe. The biggest thing is to not make it such a big deal when she comes up, just give her a second to take a breath and under again. She does not cry hysterically (or at all) she is not afraid of water, she even practices her swimming in the bathtub, puts her own face in the water, tells herself "Relax, realx" as she 'floats' on her back in the tub.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> And the best part? It's 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week. So it's over so quickly, and then she plays for another hour or so. We've done it for a week and a half, and I am confident that if she got into the pool, she could at least turn herself from her tummy to her back and float for a few minutes. If she were to fall in by the side of the pool, she would know how to swim towards the wall under water. We are working on swimming under the water until she needs breath, flipping on her back for a minute for breath, and then flipping back to her tummy to reach the wall. I would not, of course, use ANY type of swimming class as substitution for 100% ACTIVE supervision by the water.<br>
Both girls, my dd and S, now play in the pool on a regular basis. They do not have a fear of the pool, rather a respect for the pool.<br>
Trust me, if you would have told me a few years ago I would be supportive of this technique, I would have told you you were crazy. However, seeing the results of both types of classes, and seeing both classes in action, I just can not argue with what I saw. HTH.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/innocent.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shy">
 

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AJ started lessons at 3, they can't start before then at the Y. He's now in the 2nd level and he's 4 today and still can't swim. Lessons are not all about simming, but about skills needed to swim. They use pool noodles sometimes, boogie boards, and life jackets. These give them a chance to practice kicking and paddling etc since the teach doesn't have to hold them the whole time. It also is just getting more aquainted to the water. He loves being under the water and does his 'bobs' contantly when the teach is not working w/ him. I'm not sure when they learn to swim, maybe the next level. He loves going and Evan can't wait to go either, 6 more LONG months. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> We dropped him one time by our friend (and lifeguard, lol) and he did great. He instinctively 'swam' toward the wall and wanted to do it again. We were hoping it would teach him not to jump in water w/out me, but oh well. Live and learn I guess.
 
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