Swim Lessons {Adventures in the Water}

Before we went on our vacation to Hawaii I wanted to prepare my son for the water. He is an avid water lover and enjoys baths and the beach so I thought he’d also love swim lessons in a pool. I looked around, did my research and decided to sign him up for beginning swim lessons at the local YMCA. The price was the best in town and I’ve always gotten the warm fuzzies about envisioning my kids in various activities at the Y.

So I headed out to sign him up (you can’t do it over the phone or online unless you’ve been enrolled previously). And while I was there I decided to just suck it up and join the YMCA with a single parent membership. No, I’m not a single parent but my husband wouldn’t set foot in a gym unless it was to watch his kid in a class. But more about my gym membership in another post.

We were set. Scheduled for swim lessons at 5:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My mother in law would come with us so Molly could join in as well and we would switch kids as needed throughout the lessons. When we went to our first class I saw how much my son enjoyed being in the water and trying new things. The only thing he couldn’t quite get was closing his mouth under water. So we had many coughing episodes as water had gone down the wrong tube when he tried to breathe in.

I liked how the instructors went through the basics with the kids. There were three main concepts the children worked on for the 4 weeks of class, kicks, scoops and bubbles. Each lesson would use another tool or technique to practice the three main concepts. there were rubber duckies and frogs, kick boards and mini hula hoop type toys to help each kid practice. The one thing I didn’t realize was that this was not a water survival class. The children would not be learning how to react in case they fell in the water on accident. But that was just my misunderstanding about swim lessons in general.

Now if I were to do it again I probably wouldn’t have signed Molly up for this type of class. I would have probably invested a bit more money into a water survival class for infants. But she did thoroughly enjoy splashing and swimming with mommy and Grandma. And it did get her ready for a week of fun in the sun of Hawaii and more used to water in general so I still think it was a great experience for her.

After our initial 4 week session we decided to sign E up for the transitional two’s class after we got back from vacation. This class was a smaller, more focused class where the instructor and kids were the only ones in the water. The parents just sat or stood on the edge of the pool watching. It was a class that focused again on the three main concepts of kicks, scoops and bubbles but also expanded and started showing the kids how to position their arms, how to safely climb up out of the pool and, again, to feel more comfortable in the water.

The first few classes were great. E was enjoying himself (and his newfound friends) and it seemed as though he was getting a bit more comfortable. Then the third week in he started acting a bit different. He wasn’t as excited to go to class and would rather go to the gym child care to play instead. He even asked to go home after the first half of class (and I took him home). Then the last week of classes he told me he didn’t want to go. He was getting over a stuffy nose and I thought he just didn’t feel good but the next Thursday he clearly stated he didn’t want to go to swim lessons. So we didn’t go. I was sad but felt that leaving this up to him was the best way to go.

Looking back I think the biggest problem E had with the class was the student to instructor ratio and not feeling safe with going under water. The class we enrolled in had 4 kids in it. Four toddlers to one instructor is quite overwhelming. They don’t quite listen as well and definitely don’t sit still so a majority of the class wasn’t spent with fun in the pool, it was spent being redirected and reprimanded for goofing off in the water. I’ve been told by another parent in the class that the previous classes she was in only had 2-3 students.

And while E does love the water, he did not feel as comfortable with his instructor and going under water. I think that if I practice with him a few times a week before enrolling him again it might be more beneficial. I think that he’d be more trusting if I were in the water with him while he practiced going under and swimming.

All in all we enjoyed the instructors and the techniques used to teach the basic swimming lessons. And we will definitely be taking classes in the future. I really do think that swimming is an important thing to learn when young especially since we live in Southern California. We are always around water whether it be at the beach or at a friends house that has a pool. And water safety is important with small children. And these lessons have made E more eager to go out and explore things on his own. He doesn’t mind being away from me and enjoys his freedom a bit more when someone else takes the lead. I think this will help us when we transition to preschool next year.

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