My Staff and I spent time learning from world renown baby swimming specialists, Rob and Kathy McKay, of Lifestyle Swim School. Here we learned the Gentle Journey method while expanding my skills on how to teach infants and babies how to swim in the most natural, gentle and positive way. The program they have developed is amazing and we are excited about bringing their child-centered swimming lesson format to Central Florida.
by Rob and Kathy McKay
“Build the stage around the show…Little people 6 months through 4 years old, deserve special “handle with care” treatment. Nurturing the needs of each child, allowing them to unfold at their natural pace. To optimize your aquatic classroom for learning, combine an interactive curriculum with a well organized, yet spontaneous lesson plan. Together with mom and dad, through games, songs, laughter and engaging activities, you can create a warm, loving and safe environment.
Baby swimming has many positive benefits, like sunken treasures beckoning to be discovered. In order to unveil these awaiting treasures, we need to build the stage around the show, to adapt the class to the level of experience and understanding of the children involved. Introduce skills when the children are relaxed and ready, and only skills that are age and developmentally appropriate, accommodating for individual differences. Patience, consistency, play, repetition, commitment and positive parenting are the pillars of a successful program………” (Read More)
“The benefits of “baby-friendly”, infant/toddler swimming are unique, uplifting and contribute to the positive development of the whole child. Through the soothing medium of water, we are able to tap into the child’s potential, both within and without.”
Researchers have documented that the stimulating effect of child-paced infant/toddler swimming lessons has the potential to increase intelligence, concentration, alertness, and perceptual abilities. Improvement in social, emotional and physical development has also been published. Of course, the manifestation of such inspired cognitive, personal and motor development takes time, patience and repetition. I have personally observed this phenomena and have confirmed this with other veteran instructors, especially in children who started lessons prior to 12 months old, but it’s never too late to receive these unique and subtle benefits of infant-toddler swimming……..” (Read More)
What Children Can Learn
“The journey is …as important as the destination. Learning is a process, not a product. It takes place at the child’s pace, not when the teacher says it, not when the parent wants it, but when the child is capable, relaxed and ready. Create a positive learning environment, enjoy each session for its own sake.
Harmony with… the water. Smooth swimming, not thrashing, takes practice, patience and a great deal of time. At each level, we are setting a foundation. Each age group has new and more complex skills compatible with the developmental abilities of that group. It is best to introduce skills only when they can be acquired with ease and confidence. Every child gets there in the end, if you put the time in at the beginning……..(Read More)
Brief Overview of Swimming Skills
The purpose of the following skill profile is to provide you with a broad idea of the potential that exists at various ages. This chart is intended to reflect the skills and abilities of children with long term swimming experience who swim with ease and confidence. Many factors weigh into a child’s progress, such as comfort, experience, confidence, frequency of practice, motivation, innate abilities and the attitude of the parents. Beginners entering a program would need to start with water adjustment and gradually acquire new skills in a sequential learning progression, regardless of age……..(Read More)
Highlighted below is a sampling of skills that can be learned by experienced swimmers:
“Some relaxed infants as young as 6 months –10 months old with proper prerequisites and training can learn to hold their breath on cue when dipped underwater. For those who continue to practice, by 12 months of age some will be able to swim 5 seconds between two adults, swim to, reach for and grab onto the side of the pool, as well as, perform a sitting jump off the side. They will also begin to participate in songs, games and express their joy with smiles. For those families whose circumstances do not allow adequate practice time to reach the 5 second swim, familiarizing your child with the water at young ages sets a positive foundation for lessons when they are older.”
“Some toddlers as young as 19 months-24 months old once they have accomplished the above skills with proper prerequisites and training can begin to learn to jump off the side of the pool, turn around and swim back to the side. For those who continue to practice, by the age of 25 months old, a great spurt in endurance and kicking ability can occur.”
“Some experienced toddlers by the age of 28 months-36 months can begin to learn to recover up for a breath. However, teaching this skill too young can create vertical “water walkers.” We wait until our swimmers begin to self-initiate this skill and have developed a strong flutter kick before we introduce it.”
“Some seasoned 36 month-4 year olds will begin to back float. As the 4th birthday approaches, more children will accept the back float. Our experienced 3 1/2 year olds will flip from front to back and vice versa. The vast majority of infants and toddlers are not comfortable on their backs until at least 3 years old. Children love swimming under the surface at this age.”
“A few year-round students will be able to accomplish the above skills with ease and confidence at earlier ages. However, the acquisition of such skills through forceful means, by an adult over a child, is inappropriate and distressful to the child. We will only introduce experienced and receptive babies to back float exercises. This process is presented through fun games and activities. It must be noted that making back float an imposed priority to unwilling infants and toddlers can have a devastating effect on the well-being of the child. The same holds true for forcing children underwater on their front before they are ready.”
Information from www.babyswimming.com