There has been a lot of social media hype around ISR (Infant Survival Resources). At World Wide Swim School, people always ask for our point of view on this technique, particularly its validity for water safety and drowning prevention. Our position is clear. Swimming lessons that allow babies and children to cry or distress while learning to swim must not be tolerated. Learning to swim must be a positive experience for both parent and child. The child’s early learning experiences will mold their ideas, attitudes and behaviours around water.
We want to instill in children a love for and respect of the water as they learn their capabilities and limitations. In addition, we do not want them to be fearful, scared or unwilling to participate in water play. Similarly, we do whatever we can to avoid them from feeling traumatised during their swimming lessons.
Back floating is an important water safety skill. But developmentally, we must acknowledge that once a baby learns to sit up and becomes mobile, usually between 4 to 7 months of age, they will not enjoy floating on their back. This will continue until the child’s understanding and comprehension starts to improve. Especially when they become more accepting of the skill usually around 2 years of age. Nonetheless, the majority of 2 year old’s will still protest back floating and only perform the skill on their own terms.
You should encourage all back floating attempts but never force them. Swimming teachers must use fun games and activities which encourage babies and young children to participate voluntarily. Fear force and trauma should never happen in swimming lessons. I am pleased to report that within the swimming teaching industry, the majority of people hold these same values.