Sink or swim?

I’ve been thinking about blog titles. I very often put ones in that have little to do with the topic of the post. Or they are utterly factual, probably great for a search engine but not very interesting when you’ve several hundred posts in your reader. But it takes too much energy trying to be clever and really I should be wrangling children into bed, so you’re stuck with yet another guess what it’s about quandary.

Actually, it’s partly about swimming. Long term readers of this blog will remember the trauma that attended Big’s first bash at swimming nine years ago. I think home educators around the country breathed a collective sigh of relief when I pulled her out of the lessons and returned Saturday mornings to their previous relaxed state. It was six years before she attempted lessons again, and even with that gap she still remembered the incident that had put her off first time around.

With that in mind, I was a bit nervous about Smallest starting swimming. But after a couple of weeks of being rather nervous about being abandoned in water with strangers, she settled in well and it’s all gone swimmingly. (Sorry.) Until 4 weeks ago, when she was brought out of her lesson part way through, having said that she needed the toilet. The week after that she came out of the lesson part way through again. Last week we were away. This week, instead of asking every day if it was her turn, she woke up saying “not my swimming, I don’t like my swimming, don’t make me go to my swimming.”

Alarm bells were ringing. I spoke to the teacher before the session today and arranged for her to make a fuss about it all. I bought extra special disney princess shampoo for afterwards and crossed my fingers that a concerted positive approach would be enough.

It wasn’t. I could hear the wailing throughout, see from the body language across the pool that I had a very unhappy little girl. She did make it through the whole lesson, but was carried out to me looking more than a bit pathetic.

I think I know what it’s about. I think they moved her up to a group she wasn’t ready for, because she seems tall and capable and verbal – forgetting that she was nowhere near three when she was moved. I think that there are children in that group who are a year older than her and actually should be in proper swimming classes and the teachers have been stretching the class up towards that and she’s been worried that she’s going to be made to do the things the older children were doing. I think that the teacher she’d built a relationship with disappeared and was replaced by a woman who seems to feel that smiling sweetly means it’s OK to say different things to different parents and that they won’t ever compare notes. (Hint. We did. We know.)

I think that I’m really quite amazingly cross about all of this. And that if they’ve put my little girl off swimming for six years that I may have to sit down and cry. And I think that I don’t really know what else to do.

What would you do?

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Comments

  1. I must say, I’ve always been very impressed that Small has gone in with a teacher while you watch from the side – I’ve always gone in with mine, they limpet on me for a while and then are away!

    But then we all go in and merit a teacher (who is lovely and also gets in the water) and a lesson just for us, considering the number of us. I really wouldn’t consider ‘normal’ swimming lessons, having sat through too many myself (& I loved swimming and don’t remember not being able to swim!)

    This particular situation? I’d see if she could go back down to the teacher she liked. You’re paying, and this is an entirely reasonable request. If she was still unhappy, I’d pull her out and leave it, like you did with Big. Maybe take her swimming myself if that’s possible?
    mamacrow recently posted…December So FarMy Profile

  2. Frankly, I wouldn’t hesitate about pulling an under-five child out of any such situation. Both of ours learned to swim through playing in the pool and then had some formal lessons later on. They’re not champion swimmers but both competent and have always enjoyed it in pools and the sea.
    If I had my time again I’d avoid all group stuff for really little ones because I think it’s not worth the stress. There’s time enough later on.

  3. My eldest son hated swimming. I put him in baby swim classes after a slip in the bath had made him afraid of water. This didn’t make his relationship to water any better. At the age of 5 he still wouldn’t get into water that wasn’t shallow. In the end he felt frustrated that his friends could enjoy the water and we did swimming lessons where there was a lot of focus on getting used to the water. After that he had a regular lesson and soon learned to love swimming. I would say, wait. When they are six and seven they learn quickly and have the bodily strength to achieve this much easier.
    Catherine Marshall recently posted…We were never being boringMy Profile

    • She used to like them – wish we weren’t having this blip. And as we live at the seaside, I’d really rather she learnt sooner rather than later. But this might not be the right way.

  4. In order for me to get lengths in, C had private lessons with a friend from about 3. The friend changed – we shared with Jamie until 4yo then Megan until 5yo (ages and timing approximate). Then the pool changed rules and private lessons were payable through the pool and so we couldn’t split Sheila’s rates between us and it would have been more than half the pool wanted from each of us. This coincided with school for Megan anyway so then we went alone. C has only just started HE group lessons aged 12. C loved her lesson and Sheila worked her hard, I don’t rate the group lessons at all. Never gave really but these HE ones are only £1.70 so am considering that as not too bad value really.

    I would ask Smallest if she’s serious about not having lessons any more and if she is, pull her out. Now Tigerboy not so little you could go in with them both and just play?

  5. Ours was in swimming from six or seven weeks, and at age two, when most children in the class were sitting on the side being encouraged to jump into the water to be caught by the waiting parent, he was taking flying leaps in, full of confidence. Then someone flipped a switch somewhere and he decided he didn’t like it anymore and for over a year he didn’t go near a pool. He eventually said he didn’t like the water in his face. He’d never had goggles in the pool, so we bought him a set and I took him swimming in the small pool one day to try them out. To start with he wouldn’t put his face anywhere in the water, but I kept sitting on the bottom with my head underwater and eventually he was curious enough that he tried it and the switch flipped back. Now he attends a swim club and also the local home ed swim lessons. He wobbled a bit more a year or so ago, finding excuses to get out half way through, and we backed off, let him have a month off during the summer when a lot of others weren’t there anyway, and told him he didn’t have to do competitions if he didn’t want to (it’s always been his choice, subject to if he said yes to one then he can’t change his mind). Now he’s back enjoying it, has done a competition where he had fun, and picked up a couple of medals in the club swim gala and is progressing.

    You probably need to have a chat and find out what the problem is, talk to the teacher and see if there’s anything to do there. If she’s tired, can she sit on the side for five minutes and get back in, rather than get out? Take her for some play time in the pool that isn’t all about swimming, you might get a better answer to what the problem is that way, too.

    • Talked to the teacher who tried to make a big fuss of her, but I don’t think they’ve hit it off. She shouldn’t be getting too tired, they aren’t actually in the water swimming the whole time, it’s more of a set of games and so on. We’ve got our annual swim fest at Centerparcs coming up in January, that might sort it out too.

  6. I remember Big doing her first unsupported width at Kessingland…..

    I pulled Aprilia out of toddler swimming lessons because she was scared of the teacher and she had no more until she was 8 or 9 I think when she had a summer crash course. She can swim fine, no great style etc but she’s safe in the water.

    Unless Smallest is prone to wandering off and paddling without you, I’d not worry so much about her *needing* to swim, it’s more important that she trusts you to listen to her when she says she’s not happy with something and that she has some fun splashing with you and her siblings when you can. And hugs for the stress of it all…..
    TBird Anni recently posted…Fun Whilst it LastedMy Profile

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