Thoughts on watching my 3-year-old in her first lessons

My 3-year-old daughter is in her 3rd swimming lesson without my wife or I in the water without us.

She’s in level 1. And she’s been that kid that cries on the side of the pool clinging to us like we’re about to abandon her to flail in the water alone.

I feel for her. I empathize with her. I know that fear. But we followed the same protocol I preach on this site. The swim instructors and the Lesson Coordinator followed the standard proceedures we do with every scared swimmer regardless of age (but most often 3 transitioning from parent tot to Level 1).

  • I walked her in holding her hand
  • We sat on the side together.
  • I had her play with toys. She picked out some toys to play with. Then I sat back against the wall while my daughter played with the toys she picked out in front of her swim class.
  • The instructor gave her a series of super easy achievable tasks like throwing the toys in the pool, pouring buckets of water on infant pouring toys, and finally asking her to sit on the edge and then get in.
  • I left briefly after they built a rapport and then my daughter started swimming in the lesson like she didn’t spend 25 out of 30 minutes the second week crying and refusing to participate.

And do you know what? The system works!!!!

The guidelines from the Lesson Coordinator Handbook work! From page 67

I also saw the need for a lesson plan.

Thankfully, we have lesson plans. Its super easy for a swim instructor to
forget the lesson plan on the side of the deck and “wing it.

Unfortunately, what that leads to is unstructured activities and swimmers doing bad habits like struggling to breath with too long of distances and struggling with their head up instead of doing high repetitions of high-quality practice.

In this case, the swim instructor was GREAT. From a parent perspective I was super happy! From an Aquatic Professional’s perspective I knew that the lesson could be even better by having the instructor follow the Level 1 Day 1 lesson plan. So, the LC gave her a copy of it and the lesson dramatically moved from “what do you want to do?” type of play, and into, “This is what we’re doing now” activities and challenges.

Watching my daughter swim was a reminder: Swim Instructors NEED to use the Lesson Plans, until they can deliever high quality, lessons without the structure the plans provide.

It isn’t that the instructors are telling the swimmers the wrong things. It’s that they’re not professionals yet. They’re not earning a salary, benefits, and bringing in hundreds of kids every season. They’re mostly in high school and they’re good hearted, good meaning, and earnest, but not experts. Every minute and every word and action aren’t deliberately crafted through honed experience, trial and error, and attention.

But we can get close to that expertise when high school swim instructors USE the lesson plans!

In conclusion, the success of my 3-year-old daughter’s swimming lessons is a testament to the effectiveness of structured lesson plans and the dedication of skilled instructors.

It’s a powerful reminder that with the right approach, even the most hesitant swimmers can gain confidence and skills in the water. As we continue to nurture young talents, let’s ensure that our swim instructors are equipped with the necessary tools and lesson plans to provide high-quality instruction.

Embracing these resources not only enhances the learning experience but also brings us closer to achieving excellence in aquatics. If you’re interested in implementing these proven strategies, I encourage you to download our free lesson plans or join our community as a member today. Together, we can make a splash in the world of swimming instruction!

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