The Importance of Self-Evaluations

As instructors, we constantly think about our swimmers and how we can help to improve their swimming skills.

 

Just as we strive to make our swimmers great, we should aim to do the same for ourselves and look towards continually improving our own teaching skills.  It is important to reflect on our teaching performance and think about ways to improve for the benefit of our students and for our own professional development.

 

Taking time out to reflect won’t take long and performing a self-evaluation or personal performance review is as simple as asking yourself a few key questions.

 

Ask yourself the following when you are creating and delivering your lesson plans for swimmers at any stage of the learn to swim process:

 

Have I created a lesson that is challenging for the class group?

 

Are the drills I have chosen appropriate for the class group?

 

Were swimmers interested, engaged and moving for the duration of the class?

 

Did I provide a happy and safe learning environment?

 

Did I provide corrections and feedback where necessary?

 

Was the lesson enhanced by using techniques to ensure all swimmers understood the task?
(Demonstrations, land drill, manipulation, simple instructions etc.)

 

What was my body language like when delivering the lesson?

 

Was the class positive for all involved?

 

What could I have done to make this class better?

 

By asking yourself these simple questions and reflecting on your teaching performance at the end of each shift, it will help you become the best instructor you can be.

 

Always remember that the key to being a great teacher is being an effective communicator.
Don’t be afraid to communicate with management or other team members at your swim school if there is something you feel you need help with.

 

Don’t be afraid to communicate with parents or caregivers about strategies to help get the best out of their children – it shows that you are willing to go the extra mile to help improve their swimming skills.

 
What are some things you do to help improve your teaching skills?  Share in the comments section below.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

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Tumble Turns: A basic guide for Instructors

Tumble turns are an important skill for young swimmers to master – especially as they start to increase distances and perform repetitive sets of 50m or 100m and beyond in their sessions.  This skill will allow swimmers to keep moving without interrupting the flow of the class group by having to touch the wall and go again.

It is a skill that helps achieve maximum practice time within a lesson and assists in improving the speed of young swimmers as they start to work on timed sets.

As always, skills should be broken down and added to as each element is mastered.  By following these simple steps your swimmers will be using tumble turns in no time.

 

  1. Somersault to streamline stand

Line swimmers up all together (double arm width apart) and simply get them to practice a somersault and finish by standing with their arms in the streamline position.  Repeat until mastered.

 

  1. Somersault to streamline feet on wall

Swimmers should start from a position where their hand is almost touching the wall or end of the pool. Tumble and aim for feet to touch the wall.  If swimmers’ feet hit the wall squarely encourage them to push off in a streamlined position.  Allow swimmers to push of on their back in these early stages of learning to tumble turn. Focus on using their feet and legs to push off from the wall with power.  Repeat until mastered.

 

  1. Add a twist, push and streamline kick

Once swimmers hit the wall with their feet consistently and they can push off with power in a streamline position, add a twist so they push off on their side and rotate on the push off to face the bottom of the pool. Repeat until mastered.

 

  1. Swim freestyle from flags, tumble turn with twist, streamline kicks out to flags.

Once swimmers are competent at this skill allow them to practice it as a relay in 2 or 3 lanes if you have pool space. Swimmers can race each other for fun and it will allow them to understand they should approach the wall with speed to help get a powerful push off as they head in the other direction.

 

Many swimmers find this skill difficult at first. Here are some tips you may find useful when teaching tumbles turns.

  • Encourage swimmers to “hummmm” as they practice the somersault. This can help avoid swimmers getting water up their noses.
  • Encourage swimmers to tuck their legs up to their bodies in a tight ball when attempting to somersault in the water.
  • Sometimes holding a kickboard in each hand will assist in learning to tumble.
  • Swimmers occasionally struggle with flipping their legs over – physical manipulation in the water may be required for swimmers to feel how their body should be moving through the water.
  • A pool noodle or lane rope can be an effective teaching tool for helping swimmers to understand the tumble turn. Practice tumbling around the pool noodle or rope to return to the starting position.  This allows swimmers to feel their bodies and legs follow the same path as their head for the full rotation of the somersault.

 

As with any new skill, teaching tumble turns will require lots of patience, practice and repetition.  Each individual step may take several lessons for swimmers to get it right.  Make sure you allow time for learning each step in your lesson plans and practice, practice, practice until it is perfect!

 

The following under water photo sequence shows a competent swimmer practicing turns after swimming from the flags and returning to repeat the process.

tumble-turn-1tumble-turn-2

tumble-turn-3

tumble-turn-4

tumble-turn-5

tumble-turn-6

 

What are some activities you have found helpful when teaching tumble turns? Share in the comments section below.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

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Time Management – How Important Is It?

Do you start and finish your lessons on time every time?  Is this a recurring problem in your swim centre?  There are many centres around the world that have issues with their staff starting and finishing their lessons on time.  Let’s discuss time management and what it means to those people in your lesson. 

 

Many parents in today’s society are time poor.  Families have meetings, deadlines, agendas, email, messages and more to get to during the day.  They also have a multitude of sport, cultural and mind enriching experiences to provide for their children on a daily basis.  Their swimming lesson is one tiny aspect of their very busy lives.  It is important that we, as instructors recognise this and plan our lessons and the time we attach to them very carefully.

 

We are unable to know what each and every parent’s daily schedule is.  They may have a Doctors appointment to get to, a meeting at school or kindy, a ballet or painting lesson or a plethora of other appointments on their calendar.  Parents have booked and paid for a specific time slot in their day and as such should receive that time period without exception. 

 

Parents pay a specific amount of money for a specific time of lesson – 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour or whatever that may be.  If that lesson finishes early the spending conscious parent may be disappointed and think that they are not getting their money’s worth.  If a lesson continuously goes overtime they may assume that they are entitled to the longer lesson each and every time. 

 

If an instructor continuously runs late this may then have a trickle on effect to their clients.  If a client notices that their instructor is usually running 5-10 minutes behind each week they may start to arrive late themselves.  In the instance that the instructor runs on time their clients will be disappointed to miss out on their full lesson as they assumed the lesson would run over as usual.

 

If a family of swimmers are all receiving lessons from your centre multiple family members may be affected by an instructor’s inability to run on time.  If a parent has to stay in the water with a sibling or spend time waiting to help a swimmer out of the pool late, this will mean that the swimmer waiting for their turn will miss out on precious swimming time too.  This makes it difficult for that swimmer to participate in warm up and join in the lesson at the correct time.

 

Many times instructors share a teaching space that is utilised by someone else during the next lesson.  If an instructor hasn’t vacated the space at the appropriate time this can be a frustrating experience for their peers.  This may breed disharmony within the instructors and result in a negative working relationship between the 2.  It will also hold up an entire class of swimmers and their families as they wait for the teaching space. 

 

Starting and finishing classes on time should be a priority for every instructor within their shift.  There may be the odd time that this is difficult but an excellent swimming teacher should plan their lessons accordingly and constantly be aware of the time spent throughout the lesson.  If all activities aren’t completed the instructor should take note and spend more time on these at a later date. 

 

In summary time management is a very important factor for a swimming instructor and should be taken very seriously when planning and delivering aquatic experiences within the swim centre.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

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Bilateral Breathing

When should swimmers learn bilateral breathing?  It is a question or topic of debate that has been among swimming industry professionals for many years.  At World Wide Swim School (WWSS), we believe that as soon as a swimmer is ready to learn side breathing, they should learn to breathe to both sides.  Learning to breathe to both sides does not necessarily mean bilateral breathing where swimmers alternate which side they breathe to each time they take a breath.  This can easily be done in learn to swim programs so that by the time swimmers are in squad groups, bilateral breathing will be a breeze.

At WWSS we focus on breaking down individual skills and mastering them to a tee so that when the time comes to put it all together it is automatic and there is little effort required to get it right.  Keep reading for some tips and important considerations when teaching breathing to young swimmers.

 

Tips for teaching side breathing:

  • First and foremost, swimmers should only be introduced to side breathing when their kicks are strong enough to hold them in a good streamline body position. If kicks are weak in the early stages of breathing development, poor body position will create resistance and make it harder for swimmers to keep moving efficiently through the water as they turn to breathe.

 

  • Start on a ledge or in shallow water where swimmers are supported when they first learn to turn to the side. This will ensure correct technique and head position is achieved before combining kicking and breathing skills.

 

  • Once kicking and breathing skills are mastered, instructors can introduce arms into the mix building on each individual skill until great freestyle technique achieved.

 

  • Whenever choosing breathing drills for your lesson plan pick a focus point (e.g. grandstand, kiosk, change rooms) and have swimmers breathe to that side at all times. This will mean swimmers will learn to breathe to both sides without having to concentrate too hard on the skill.  When swimming in one direction, students will breathe to the left and then to the right when they come back in the other direction or vice versa.

 

  • If you are instructing a class from the pool deck, ensure swimmers are breathing to the side where you are positioned. This allows you to communicate and give non-verbal feedback queues to swimmers as you pace along beside them.

 

  • By following a building block approach in the initial stages of teaching side breathing, once swimmers are more advanced and are asked to breath on the count of 3, 5, 7 and so on, it will be an easy and natural transition to the traditional bilateral breathing technique used in freestyle.

 

Remember, it is natural that some swimmers may favour a particular side when they breathe in freestyle.  This is often attributed to whether they are left or right handed.  It doesn’t matter which side is more comfortable for a swimmer and it may help them to find a better rhythm in races and competitions.  It is important, however, that swimmers are capable of breathing to both sides as it can aid in seeing where their competitors are for tactical reasons when competing.

When teaching side breathing always focus on mastering pre-requisite skills and following a building block approach to ensure success for both you and your swimmers.

What techniques have helped you teach side breathing?  Share your experience in the comments section below.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

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Managing Different Abilities Within A Swim Lesson

Swimming teaching is a fun and rewarding experience.  Unfortunately sometimes it can also be an overwhelming experience if instructors have a multitude of different levels in their class.  It is recommended that swimmers are groups homogenously for swimmer and instructor ease.  Infants should be grouped within the growth and development stages.  Older swimmers should be grouped according to skill level instead of age.  Unfortunately there are instances when this may not be possible so instructors will have to work on strategies to manage different levels within a lesson should this ever arise.  Here are some handy tips for instructors who come across this in their teaching.

 

Infant Swimmers with Parents in the Water

Having parents in the water is a great opportunity to manage different levels within the lesson without too much stress or hassle.  A good instructor can let the parents know what they expect and then supervise as each parent in the lesson teaches their own child specific skills and drills within the lesson.  Once the instructor has gathered the group and discussed drills/skills to practice they can then send them on their way to practice.  The instructor can then move around the group and give specific feedback and support to parents and swimmers when needed.

 

Older Swimmers Participating by Themselves

This can be a more challenging experience for instructors trying to manage a medium to large group of swimmers with different abilities.  Remember that it won’t hurt a more advanced swimmer to practice easier skills and drills but they need to be challenged too.  Swimmers who don’t have the necessary skills to perform a specific drill will struggle and form poor neuromuscular patterns if practicing incorrectly.

 

Suggestions for Managing Different Abilities in the Lesson

  • The use of circuits can help by having swimmers practice a different skill for 5-10 minutes in a different section of the pool and then move along to the next skill when instructed. Supervision and feedback is key in the use of circuits – instructors should be confident managing different activities.
  • Have swimmers practice the same skill but vary the difficulty for swimmers. For example breathing can be taught in a variety of stages – swimmers can all do breathing activities together – kickboard to the front, kickboard to the side, kickboard one hand on board, no kickboard breathing, 6 kicks change arms breathing, freestyle drill etc.
  • Practice the same skill with different recovery activities – for example every swimmer kicks down, better swimmers kick back for recovery others walk back for recovery.
  • Utilise more advance swimmers for demonstration. Then have all swimmers practice.  Be careful not to always use the same swimmer for demonstration as it may look like favouritism.
  • Combine classes with another instructor for more supervision and support. Each instructor can help with a specific level within the lesson.

 

It is definitely a challenge trying to manage different abilities within a swimming lesson but if done correctly can be extremely rewarding.  Good luck in achieving this.  Much like all skills the more you can practice the better you will be!

 

How do you keep swimmers interested and engaged? Share your ideas in the comments below.

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Laurie Lawrence

 

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5 Easy Steps to Master Butterfly

Many people find butterfly one of the hardest strokes to master in their swimming.  Butterfly can be an easy stroke to swim if instructors and swimmers take their time and use a building block approach to learning – that is don’t move onto harder skills and drills until previous ones have been learned and mastered.

 

Below are some important steps to ensure swimmers achieve great results in learning butterfly in their swimming lessons.

 

Separate the skills

  • Isolate the skills so they can be practiced alone and improved upon (just kicking, just arms, breathing).
  • Use equipment when needed – kickboard, pull-buoy, flippers etc.
  • Go slow initially – separating the skill will allow for skill isolation, slow movement will allow perfect skill acquisition and muscle memory.
  • Correct mistakes straight away to help build good quality strokes.

 

Perfect the timing

  • Once the arms, legs and breathing have been practiced and perfected swimmers can begin to put them together.
  • Timing may start to naturally come as arms are being practiced by themselves – don’t stifle this movement/timing if it is correct.
  • Use key-words during instruction to assist in learning and participation.
  • Lots of practice with lots of rest will produce good timing and swimming.

 

Use drills

  • Drills are a perfect way to work on all aspects of a swimmers stroke.
  • Stop often, ensure understanding and repeat instruction of drills.
  • Ensure swimmers take the time to perfect drills and don’t rush.
  • Give feedback and ensure drills are perfect before moving on.

 

Build stamina

  • Once stroke is perfect swimmers will be able to swim for longer distances while putting all elements of the stroke together.
  • Ensure stroke is perfect when increasing distance number of lengths completed.

 

Perfect practice makes perfect

  • Movement creates neuromuscular patterns between the brain and the muscles.  If something is practiced incorrectly the body will remember it to be this way and continue to swim incorrectly.
  • It is the instructor’s job to stop swimmers if they are producing an incorrect stroke.  The earlier a swimmer is stopped and corrected the easier it will be for them to repair faults in their stroke.  The longer a swimmer is left doing something incorrectly the harder it will be to change these faults.

 

If instructors can use these 5 Easy Steps in their teaching their swimmers will be turning out great butterfly strokes in no time.  Don’t forget to use your teaching peers and community for ideas of drills and skills for teaching butterfly.

 

by Jane Lawrence

 

How do you keep swimmers interested and engaged? Share your ideas in the comments below.

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

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Teaching Swimming Without A Ledge

Teaching Swimming Without A Ledge

Swimming is such an important skills for all ages.  Young infants to older adults can all benefit from swimming lessons.  Some pools have the luxury of having a teaching ledge built in to assist with lessons but many don’t have access to a teaching ledge.  Instructors will need to think outside the box to create an appropriate learning environment for the swimmers in their lesson.  How are some ways we can teach swimming without a ledge in our lesson?

 

Assess the Depth of Your Teaching Space

What is the pool depth that you are teaching in?  If swimmers can stand up it will be easy for instructors to teach swimming in this space.  If swimmers are unable to touch instructors will have a challenging time using the teaching space and keeping their class moving.  Smaller group sizes or 1 on 1 lessons may help for both supervision and safety concerns in deeper water.  If teaching infant classes ensure parents have access to the side or can touch the bottom for best practice teaching.  If this is not an option ensure parents are confident in the water first.

 

Using the Side of the Pool

Teachers can incorporate the side of the pool into their lessons to help with safety, supervision and independence for their swimmers.  If swimmers are old enough to grip and hold on to the side of the pool this will help swimming instructors incorporate maximum practice time in their lesson while instructing their swimmers to grip, hold onto and move over from the side of the pool.

Teachers may like to send all swimmers at once from the side of the pool.  This is a great option to keep swimmers moving in this wave formation.  Swimmers can also “circle” the teaching space by swimming in one direction, moving over at the end and swimming back in the other direction.

Things to consider when using the side of the pool instead of a teaching ledge:

  • Can swimmers hold onto the side of the pool safely?  Are they developmentally ready and responsible enough to wait in the water at the edge of the pool for their turn?  If this is not an appropriate activity consider having swimmers climb out of the pool to wait for their turn.
  • Is the side of the pool deck level or a high wall?  This may determine whether swimmers will stay in the pool or climb out.
  • Will teaching equipment such as kickboards help or hinder your swimmers if they have to contend with gripping the side of the pool and holding onto their equipment?

 

Ladders, Steps and Other Fixed Equipment

Some pools have fixed equipment at their facility that instructors may be able to incorporate into their lesson.   Swimmers may be able to hold onto or push from entry/exit ladders or fixed bars in the pool area.  Ensure that activities are appropriate from this equipment – for example:

  • Do not send swimmers towards ladder, bars on their back without warning or preparation as this may be a dangerous situation if they clash with the equipment.
  • Be wary if weather or elements affect this equipment – often the sun can heat up metal bars/ladders and become quite hot it grabbed by young hands.
  • Be mindful if you are sharing your teaching space.  Allow other instructors to utilise this equipment too – working together keeps everyone happy!

 

Portable Equipment

Some centres may be able to purchase or build portable equipment that can be added/removed to water when lessons are scheduled.  Plastic or metal tables may be slipped into the water to create a temporary ledge in the water during swimming lessons.   Another type of portable equipment is teaching mats made from thick plastic or rubber.  These mats can be used to climb, sit, lie on to have swimmers participate in activities on top of the mat in the water such as climbing out, kicking while laying down on the mat beside other swimmers, practicing paddles or bubble and breathe off the mat while lying down with face in the water.  Implications of using this type of equipment may be:

  • Cost – not all centres may be willing or able to afford these teaching tables and mats.
  • Instructor Safety – ensure that instructors know where the tables are situated once they go in the water.  It can be a big shock (and hurt) if you walk into these ledges and hit your shin/legs.
  • Swimmer Safety – this equipment can help swimmers if used correctly but instructors should be aware that there are safety implications such as swimming under, jumping off and pushing around these tables while participating in a lesson.   Mats need to be used appropriately too as they can also be a safety hazard if left floating in the teaching space.

 

Using Body As A Teaching Aid

Swimming instructors may be able to use their body to help swimmers within their lesson.  Young infants may be able to swim to and pull up on instructors or parents shirt or body as a ledge.  They may also be able to bend down in the water and create a “ledge” with their knees that swimmers can push off.

It is hoped that instructors have gained some ideas from this article about teaching swimming without a ledge.   Thinking outside the box will really help you become more confident in teaching without a ledge.  Try to plan activities that incorporate safe swimming and maximum practice time while teaching your swimmers.  The more a swimmer has a chance to practice swimming skills the better they will become.

 

How do you keep swimmers interested and engaged? Share your ideas in the comments below.

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Laurie Lawrence

 

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Using Mats Within A Swim Lesson

Using Mats Within A Lesson.

Using equipment can be a rewarding and interesting part of your lesson.  It’s important that all equipment used in your lesson has a swimming related purpose.  You may have the world’s cutest toys but if you’re not using them to further your swimmer’s skills then you are wasting your swimmer’s time!

Mats are a great addition to any swimming program.  There are so many ways to use mats within a swimming lesson.  This article will discuss some of these uses.  The possibilities of using equipment in a swimming lesson are endless and bound only by the teacher’s imagination.

 

Learn To Swim Uses 

  • Swimming Under the Bridge – create a bridge with your mat by butting it up against one wall and pushing the other end to create an arc for swimmers to go through.  This can be a good activity for breath control – eyes in under the bridge. Be aware that as an instructor you will be taken away from helping your class a little bit as you will be holding “the bridge” in place.  Ensure your class is independent enough to move under the bridge without help before attempting this activity.

 

  • Run Run Run – the mat can be placed against the wall and swimmers stand outside the pool.  They then step down onto the mat and run to the end and jump/fall off.  Swimmers must then return to the top of the water and the side by kicking and paddling.  Ensure this activity is done in deep water as larger swimmers can go quite deep when jumping off the mat.  Supervision is a must in this activity as instructors need to ensure that swimmers are out of the way of the next participant before they jump in.

 

  • Floating/Kicking assistance – swimmers can climb up and lay down on the mat in a prone position to practice their floating.  Timid swimmers may like the feeling of being on top of the water with an aid in helping them float.  More experienced swimmers can lie down on the mat with their legs of the edge and practice their kicks in one direction.  They can then ‘fall off’ or have the teacher gently ‘tip them off’ and practice their kicking/paddles propulsion in the other direction back to the start.

 

  • Giant Kickboard – swimmers may lie in the water with their fingers over the top of the mat like a kickboard.  They can all kick with their eyes in the water in wave formation at the same time using the mat as a large kickboard.  This can be an exciting activity and can be used to enhance kicking skills by having fun with your swimmers.

 

Infant Swimming Uses

  • Climb Out & Turn Around – this is a great introduction to the safety skill of climbing out of the pool.  As the mat is close to the water, younger swimmers will have more success working on their climbing skills.  Using trigger words such as ‘elbow, elbow, tummy, knee’ will help them understand the climbing process.   Once the swimmer has climbed out of the water they can then turn around and swim back to their parent.  With a large enough mat all swimmers can participate in this activity at the same time, which will help the instructor with supervision and feedback opportunities.

 

  • Swim Out and Climb Up – teachers can use this activity as part of a circuit so they can keep their class moving and practicing this important safety skill.  Young swimmers can climb up on the mat, crawl/walk to the other side and jump/slide off to their parents at the other side.  This is an extension to the previous activity where the child not only has to use the safety skill of climbing up but moving along to the other side.

 

  • Tunnel work – this activity is the same as ‘swimming under the bridge’ discussed earlier in the article.  Swimmers are asked to ‘go through the tunnel’ and often find it a fun and exciting activity.  It can be a great way to keep swimmers moving in a circular pattern – one following the next.  Swimmers can be helped through the tunnel or independently swim to parent, who is standing underneath or on the other side of the tunnel.  It can also be a great distraction for back floating and kicking under the bridge – the infant who is resisting back floating moves through the tunnel and watches the colours above or discusses with parent or instructor and forgets about fighting against this activity.  Instructor should ensure they are in a correct position for supervision.

 

  • Core strength activities – there are many activities that instructors can schedule for core strength activities with a mat.  Younger infants will benefit from lying on their front and back on the mat in the water.  They can also sit up on the mat.  All of these activities will work their core as they work on their stability on the mat in the water.  Moving younger infants from a lying position on their backs to a sitting position can also help in core strength activities.  Older swimmers can work on their standing balance.  As they improve with this skill the instructor can wiggle the mat a little in a supervised setting.

 

  • Assisted Kicking – by placing all swimmers on the mat with their feet off the edge the instructor can observe them and hold the mate facing the swimmers while the parents stand behind and help them with their kicking.  Parents can manipulate the kicking one way and swimmers can attempt to kick unassisted on the way back.  This is a great activity to keep your group together, watch and observe progress and give constant feedback to the group.

 

It is hoped that you have gained some ideas from this article about using mats as a teaching aid within your lesson.  All equipment can help but it is very important to make sure that it is used under supervision within your lesson.

 

The more experience an instructor has, the more ideas they will have about using mats within their lesson.  Don’t be afraid to experiment – it is how we learn what works for us as instructors.  Good luck using mats within your lesson!

 

How do you keep swimmers interested and engaged? Share your ideas in the comments below.

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Laurie Lawrence

 

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The Importance of Water Familiarisation

Making children feel relaxed and comfortable in the water is essential before structured teaching and learning can take place. Apprehensive or frightened children will naturally have a serious barrier to learning. In many cases they will not even attempt some of the simplest learn to swim activities.

Therefore, teachers should spend time establishing a comfortable and secure learning environment for their pupils. This acclimatising period is often referred to as water familiarisation and is best done in a fun way in shallow water. Simple activities such as lying on their back in very shallow water with the ears submerged or rolling over kicking fast with lots of splashing without even putting the face under are two very simple water acclimatisation exercises.

Beginner swimmers very often are frightened of the water. Very often the parent or caregiver may have unintentionally frightened the child in their attempts to keep them safer around the water. For example by simply saying, “Come back from the side of the pool you’ll hurt yourself,” or “Don’t go near the pool its deep,” will be ingrained into the child’s psyche and often is remembered by the child as they go to participate in their first swimming lesson.

Around 2 years of age and above, if children have not been regularly exposed to the water, they may show signs of discomfort, apprehension or fear. It will not be easy to condition these children for submersion as we do with young babies. These children must be handled quite differently and must initiate their own submersions. They must never be forced underwater for any reason whatsoever.

With practical teaching experience, swimming teachers will soon be able to observe and recognise these fears. The children’s tell-tale body language will alert the teacher they will be able to identify common characteristics of a frightened beginner. Teachers may notice children:

  • Shivering or shaking, even in warm water
  • Shutting the eyes and holding the breath
  • Clenching fists, shrugging shoulders and observed body tension
  • Frequent talking or even crying
  • Pulling back as soon as the teacher goes to touch them.
  • Arching their back if the teacher tries to support them

Swimming teachers should be aware that children’s early experiences in the water, will determine their future attitudes. For this reason we should aim to make these early learning experiences positive safe and pleasurable in an attempt to shape a love of the water that s that children will carry with them through to adulthood. Force has no place in the teaching of swimming. Teachers need to find fun ways to encourage children to perform swimming activities voluntarily.

Before learning can take place children must feel comfortable. Having shallow water is fantastic for teaching beginners. In fact for frightened beginners shallow water is vital. It allows the child to feel and be in control as they practices basic water familiarisation activities such as walking, jumping, splashing and attempting breath control activities like pouring water over their face or even attempting self-submerging.

Shallow water not only makes children feel in control but fosters the child’s independence in the water. This will allow the teacher to teach with a “hands off” approach building more and more independence and confidence in the child.

There will be no need for the teacher to handle the frightened beginner in the early learning stages the child will be able to initiate their own water familiarisation activities with encouragement from the teacher. Experienced teachers will find that the child becomes relaxed much sooner.

During deep water orientation teachers must be extremely vigilant to ensure the safety of their class drowning is a silent killer and there have been reported instances of a children actually drowning during supervised swimming lessons. During deep water activities teachers should call on the parents to provide that extra pair of eyes to help with supervision. This type of parental involvement will build a good rapport with parent and child alike.

Ensuring maximum practice time in deep water with beginners can be difficult. Teachers often fall into the trap of taking students one at a time while others wait for their turn. The innovated teacher will come up with ways to keep their class moving. First trips to deep water may be as simple as having the class hold the side of the pool and all submerge together. As the children feel their own buoyancy they will rapidly grow in confidence. If the children are kept busy and active they will progress sooner and the teacher will avoid behavioural distractions in the class.

Once the teacher see the students’ confidence growing, they may set up a deep water follow the leader circuit. This can help to generate maximum practice time during the lesson. Teachers should look to utilise teaching benches, ledges, deck level pool edge, rails, ramps or ramps depending on what is available at your swim school. Lesson planning is the key when teaching beginners in deep water.

Having a defined class area which is roped off is important for the safety of your class. This will ensure that you can keep your group together and avoid students wandering outside of your supervision. It is not necessary to have a large teaching space particular with beginner students or when taking inexperienced swimmers into deep water. Experienced teachers will set up a confined area which gives them good supervision of the class and the ability to move easily and quickly if they need to respond to their student in trouble.

Teachers must have all of their teaching equipment on hand. If this is done there will be no need to leave students to get teaching equipment. Should the teacher, for some reason, need to leave the water all their students must go with them. Young children must never be left unsupervised in and around water and certainly not in a supervised teaching class.

It is important that teachers don’t rush the water familiarisation stage with students. Basic skills like pool entry and exit, breath control, submersion and floating skills are all vital to a child’s progressive learning. These simple floating skills, established early, will form the child’s base for learning to swim and stroke development. Teachers must remember that floating is the basis of all learn to swim and must not be rushed. It must be mastered before trying more complex swimming skills. If children learn to relax and float independently on their front and back for up to ten seconds, then once propulsive patterns are introduced a more relaxed stroke will be developed.

Swimming teachers often observe those children who struggle, thrash, and fight the water have difficulty keeping themselves afloat.

We as teachers must remember the importance of progressively building swimming skills to develop a relaxed and natural stroke which will last a lifetime.

Good stroke develop requires perfecting a perfect streamline body position. Teachers are reminded that this position in the early learning stages is not very stable for beginners. Beginners may need to perfect their balance and body position in the water by floating with a kickboard then floating with a wider arm position to assist in buoyancy before building more streamline position…. Always build skills…. Remember floating is the basis of all learn-to-swim and should be a consistent part of any lesson plan.

How do you keep swimmers interested and engaged? Share your ideas in the comments below.

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Laurie Lawrence

 

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

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Engaging 2 year olds in swimming lessons

Working with 2 year olds can be challenging. They are increasingly independent in their day to day life as they navigate activities and tasks and explore their surroundings. They can be strong willed and know their own mind. Often 2 year olds will be easily distracted or totally focused on their favourite activity. Being aware of these characteristics can help you in your swimming lessons as you plan your class strategies and swimming programs. While teaching a 2 year old to swim can present challenges, it is not without fun or reward. If you tackle it correctly, it will feel more like fun and play time than a job. Here are a few tips to help you engage the 2 year olds in your swimming lessons:

  1. Change activities frequently. Using a wide range of activities can help keep swimmers interested in the task at hand.   For swimmers who are easily distracted or get bored quickly, changing activities often is a great tactic. It is important to revisit activities to ensure swimmers are given enough time to practice and in-turn learn the swimming skills they are working on. Circuits are a great way to incorporate lots of activities while still allowing for much needed repetition.
  2. Adapt to student led learning situations. This can be great for the toddler who is determined to do what they want, when they want. Swimmers may point in a direction or vocalise what activities they are interested in. By allowing this independent and exploratory type of learning, it can help you find out what your swimmers like and what motivates them in the water. This is particularly helpful for future planning allowing you to prepare swimming classes that will engage your students. Remember to guide activities so they still have purpose and focus on important swimming skills.
  3. Control your voice to add interest to the class. Varying the tone and volume of your voice can keep swimmers alert, interested and awaiting your instructions. Remember lessons will often be in swimming pools where there are other aquatic activities or classes going on at the same time. Keep instructions simple and gather the group close together if you are in a noisy environment.
  4. Communicate with parents and guardians. Tapping into the knowledge of those closest to your swimmers will enable you to find out their likes, dislikes and motivating factors much quicker. Some swimmers may take longer to warm up to new faces and swimming instructors than others. Knowing what motivates your students can help you build a bond fast and allow you to get to work on swimming skills right away.

Watch this footage of Laurie Lawrence and granddaughter Harper having fun while exploring the water in their swimming lesson together. Harper is striking out independently in the water, and is clear in what she wants to do and where she wants to swim. Laurie happily obliges and expertly guides the activities to ensure there is still learning value. They work on breath control, turning, swimming varied distances, and controlled propulsive skills in a short space of time.

 

 

How do you keep 2 year old swimmers interested and engaged? Share your ideas in the comments below.

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Laurie Lawrence

 

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now