Part 2: Children Over 12 Months - Swim-Float-Swim Sequence
What to expect on your first day of lessons
Most likely, the first day of lessons will be devoted to building a rapport and teaching your chold to hold his or her breath underwater and open his or her eyes. For the most part, this skill is learned during the first day of lessons and is reinforced with each additional lesson. It's important that your child learn to open his or her eyes underwater because as the lessons go on, he or she will learn to look for a way out of the water, and the only way to do that is with eyes open.
Your Instructor will gently introduce your child to the water. Because each child reacts differently, the Instructor will work with your child to make him or her comfortable in the pool.
What to expect during your first week of lessons
During each lesson, your Instructor will reinforce what your child has learned in earlier lessons, and continue working on new skills. After your child masters holding his or her breath underwater and opening his or her eyes, your Instructor will start teaching your child to hold on to the wall and swim a short distance to the wall. Although your child won't learn any particular "stroke", he or she will learn to kick and propel themselves through the water. Learning to find the wall, swim to the wall, and hold securely onto the wall are important skills for aquatic survival because in an emergency your child must be able to find a way out of the water.
Near the end of the first week, your Instructor may start working on the back float with your child. Your Instructor will begin the process by floating your child on his or her back and will support your child's back aas necesary to help them learn to trust this posture and to rest and breathe for a short period of time. Depending on your child's age, the Instructor may even begin working with having your child roll from a swimming position into the back float.
What to expect during your the 2nd and 3rd weeks of lessons
As mentioned before, each lesson will begin with your Instructor reinforcing the skill that have been learned in the previous lessons. This serves several purposes: it allows your child to "warm up" to the process of the lesson, it allows the Instructor to determine if any of these skills need to be mofified or adjusted. It is especially common to need to make small adjustments to how your child performs a particular skill if they have been out of lessons for a few days (such as the beginning of the week, or after a prolonged absence), or after your child has spent time plaing in the pool.
After the first week of lessons, your Instructor will begin focusing on teaching your child how to roll onto his or her back from a face-down swimming position. When your child is first learning this skill, your Instructor will gently move your child's head and shoulders to teach him or her to roll when a breath is needed.
When your child is first learning to float, your Instructor will support his or her back; as the lessons progress, your Instructor will use less and less support, until your child is floating on his or her own. Your Instructor will also work with your child to make the small adjustments they need to make their body position to float on their own. Once your child has begun to learn the float, your Instructor will teach your child to roll out of the float, and to swim again in search of the exit. It is during this time that the pieces of the "swim-float-swim" sequence begin to come together.
During this time, you may also see your Instructor working on teaching your child to turn around in the water while swimming, to be able to find an exit. For example, your Instructor may start the child with their back to the wall, or away from the wall, so he or she learns to turn to be able to find the wall. In addition, your Instructor may place your child in a variety of different orientations in the water -- such as vertically or from a sitting position -- to safely simulate the different potential positions your child could encounter if he or she were to fall into the water; and to teach the child to perform the swim-float-swim from nearly any position in the water.
Learning to swim is one thing; learning to survive is another. ISR doesn't simply teach your child to swim -- we teach your child to be an aquatic problem solver.
What to expect during the 4th and 5th weeks of lessons
The last weeks of the lesson are devoted to putting the entire swim-float-swim sequence together, and making any final adjustments that are necessary for your child to be able to perform these skills on their own. Up until this point in the lessons, your Instructor has given your child the "cue" to roll to his or her back into float, with a series of physical prompts. In the final weeks of the lessons, your Instructor will use fewer and fewer prompts as your child learns to perform the skills on his or her own.
For example, early on in the lessons your Instructor prompted your child to roll onto his or her back by physically assisting, but by the 4th or 5th week of lessons, your Instructor may not need to prompt your child at all. your Instructor will always be present, attentive, and prepared to assist your child when necessary, but always with the goal for your child to perform these skills independently.
During the final week of lessons, your Instructor will ask you to bring your child to lessons in regular clothes, including shoes, socks, and if necessary, a diaper, so that your child can swim while fully clothed. Your Instructor may even ask you to dress your child in summer clothes on the first day and in winter clothes, such as long sleeves, pants and a coat on the second day. The experience of swimming fully clothed affects every aspect of the swimming experience, because of the weight of the saturated clothes, the drag of the clotes while swimming, and the feel of the clothes on the body.
Because the vast majority of drownings occur when a child is fully clothed, it is viatl that your child know how to perform the swim-float-swim sequence while fully clothed. Swimming while fully clothed is one of the best ways we know to safely simulate a potential aquatic accident.
On the last day of lessons, your Instructor may ask you to come into the water with your child. Your Instructor will show you ways to play with your child in the water, such as how to hold and release your child in the water so he or she can swim to the wall or the steps. This is a fun way to conclude the lessons, and it's been our experience that children love to show off their skills!