Teaching your child independence is very important. Children are curious and learn through their own exploration. Personal exploration teaches children their boundaries and a respect for the water. However parents must always be supervising within arm’s reach.
The Laurie Lawrence program encourages independence by
- Holding the baby softly
- Wearing a T- shirt in the pool
- Allowing shallow water exploration
Holding baby in the pool
There are a number of different ways to hold your baby in the pool. In any hold it is important to support your baby very gently and to stay down low in the water. Always remember to have very soft hands when holding your baby in the pool. This will give the baby an opportunity to feel their own buoyancy and allow them the freedom to move and exercise. They really don’t require a lot of support, let the water support them in the water.
The hip hold is basically an extension of how most parents carry their baby on land. It allows parents to move easily in the water, maintain eye contact with their baby and have one hand free to condition or stimulate their baby. Conditioning is how we teach baby breath control on command as we pour water over their face. Always remain low in the water and give baby an opportunity to grip.
The prone side hold gives baby good vision of the pool and the freedom to move and kick through the water. It’s important to watch and be careful baby’s mouth stays clear of the water. Remember babies are top heavy. Always hold them high under the arms so their centre of gravity is high and they feel balanced in the water.
The horizontal floating hold is the most important holds in swimming teaching. This hold requires parent and child to be eye to eye, but baby must be positioned in a horizontal position with their legs floating behind them. We use this horizontal hold to submerge and free float your baby. A horizontal position is perfect for floating because the water breaks on the top of the head and runs easily over the body. If you submerge your baby in a vertical position you can easily force water up their nose.
The cuddle kick hold is a very secure hold when first introducing children to the water. Here children are placed over the parents shoulder in a cuddle and the baby’s legs are outstretched in a horizontal kicking position. Here the baby is close to their parent which helps them to relax. This hold remains popular throughout the entire program. It is used to teach a horizontal body position in the water and to encourage the correct kicking action.
Wearing a T-Shirt in the pool
T-shirts are great for encouraging independence. Our aim is to teach the baby to hold on and support their own body weight from a very early age. This is particularly important to teach children a respect for the water. We begin this process by maintaining the baby’s natural grasp reflex. In the early learning stages we simply sink down low in the water and balance baby on our chest. If they role or slip down we gently guide them back, and tell them to “hold on”. As the baby grows with age they will become more competent with this skill. Watch these 2 YouTube video clips to see how we develop independence
Once your baby gets to the stage of striking out on their own in the water, we want them to be capable of independently pulling themselves up. In doing so we are teaching them their own capabilities in the water. When your child strikes out on their own they need to be able to resurface independently. If you pick your child up every time they go underwater or jump in on their own, then they become conditioned to think, that mum and dad will always pick them up. This is a simple exercise by very important in teaching children their own capabilities in the water.
Shallow Water Exploration
At Laurie Lawrence Swim School our pools are built with specifically designed shallow water teaching ledges. These ledges are very valuable as they teach baby the difference between deep and shallow water. Understanding deep from shallow helps to teach children a respect for the water.
Your child’s physical capabilities will determine how the teaching ledge is utilised in the lesson. Initially baby will be given an opportunity to balance and learn to sit up on the ledge. This will advance to crawling on the ledge, swimming to and from the ledge and turning to the ledge. If no ledge is available you can utilising a floating mat in the water.
Practice at home
Parents can easily use the bath tub or swimming shell to expose children to different depths of water. It is the perfect environment for back and front floating as well as tummy time where baby learns to hold their head out of the water. Children must never be left unsupervised.