Part 1: Babies Younger Than 1 Year - Rollback to Float Sequence
What to expect on your first day of lessons
On the first day of lessons, your Instructor will focus on building a rapport and showing your baby what it feels like to be on his or her back in the water by providing support and allowing him or her to "balance" on the water with this support. The goal is to teach your baby to trust this position so he or she is comfortable breathing and resting. Depending on your baby's response, your Instructor may also begin teaching your baby to close his or her mouth, hold his or her breath, and open his or her eyes underwater while starting to learn how to move in the water. Your baby will never be thrown into the water.
You may have heard or read that babies can swim "naturally". That is false. All purposeful swimming behaviors must be taught. If swimming was natural for a baby, why do so many drown each year?
What to expect during your first week of lessons
Each ISR lesson -- not just during the first week, but throughout the entire series of lessons -- will begin with the Instructor briefly reinforcing the skills learned in the previous lessons. During this first week, you'll notice that your Instructor may pick your child up and praise him or her after a successful back float. This is how your Instructor reinforces to your child that he or she has performed a skill correctly. Take your cues from the Instructor and praise your child at the same time.
What to expect during your the 2nd and 3rd weeks of lessons
For young babies, the 2nd and 3rd weeks of lessons are often devoted to teaching your child to float independently and to roll from a face down position in the water into a float to ge a breath. As an example, while your Instructor may start teaching the float by supporting your baby's body fully, you will notice the support will become less and less as your baby takes more responsibility with his head orientation, balance, and breathing.
By the 3rd week, the Instructor may be able to use less and less support as the child learns to steady the float on his or her own. During this time, your baby will learn how to make the small adjustments, such as slowing their kicking and keeping their arms out, which are necessary for them to maintain the float on their own. The Instructor will also continue to work on teaching your baby to roll onto his or her back on his or her own.
What to expect during the 4th and 5th weeks of lessons
These lessons are devoted to fine tuning the skills of rolling onto the back from the face down position and other postures in the water, in addition to extending the time your baby will float with only minimal support, and then eventually, without support, in the water.
Your Instructor may also place your child in the water in a variety of different positions, such as vertically, from the side, or in a sitting type position, and teach your child to roll onto his or her back from these positions. Teaching your baby to orient himself or herself in the water and get into a back float from a variety of different positions is important, because of the numerous ways a child could potentially fall in the the water in the event of an aquatic accident.
During the last week of lessons, your Instructor will teach your baby to perform these skills while wearing clothes. Swimming and floating in clothes is a completely different experience than what your child has been accustomed to during the lessons; the extra weight of the clothes and a fully saturated diaper, the feeling and sensation of the wet clothes, and the "drag" that the wet closthes place on your baby's ability to move in the water all come together to make the process of swimming and floating slightly more difficult.
Given the number of infant drownings that occur when a baby is fully clothed, it is vitally important that your child experience what it feels like to swim and float in the water fully clothed, and learn how to make the necessary adjustment to swim and float in wet clothes. After your child has been in the water with clothes on, your Instructor may want to have another lesson with your child wearing just a bathing suit or swim diaper, if there are any small adjustments that the Instructor may want to work on before lessons conclude.