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I did it! WATCH ME!

imgresElaine, age 5, didn’t like water in her face when she took swimming lessons last month. Thirty-minute lessons. Ten days. The teacher encouraged her students to play. Her philosophy is that after children have fun and feel safe in water, they learn to swim. No pressure. No blowing water bubbles. No hold the poolside and kick. My Grand was excited to go to every lesson and at the end of two weeks she didn’t mind water splashing on her face, but she wasn’t a swimmer. Did this method work?

A week later, Elaine and I went to the YMCA pool. I’d hoped she’d blow water bubbles and lie prone in the water, and we’d play. Elaine had a different plan. She adjusted her goggles over her eyes and the inflated water wings on her arms and walked down the steps into the pool. “I can touch!” she said. Then she sat on the pool steps and dipped her chin in the water. When I moved toward her, Elaine held up both hands as if she were stopping traffic. I stepped back. She put her face in the water and blew bubbles. Again and again and again.

“Good, Elaine! When you want to swim, the next thing is to lie on your stomach with your arms straight out in front and kick,” I said. She held to the side of the pool, face in the water, and kicked.

“Like that?” she asked.

Yes, and she could do the same thing away from the wall and I’d hold my hand under her belly. Elaine shook her head to say she didn’t want my help. She walked two steps from the wall, stuck her face in the water, kicked her feet, and immediately grabbed the wall.

Elaine watched a man, carrying a long pool noodle, enter the water. He lay on his stomach with the noodle under his chest and swam. “Can I have a noodle?” Elaine asked. We took off her water wings and adjusted the noodle so it lay under Elaine’s chest and the noodle’s long ends tucked under her armpits.

My Grand stuck her face in the water, her arms straight, and kicked her feet against the pool wall. She didn’t stop kicking. She glided about eight feet, raised her head, and looked back. “I did it! Did you see me!” she shouted. We hugged tightly to celebrate.

“Next, when you want to, you can move your arms. Together in the front and then out,” I said and showed her. Like a breaststroke. Elaine planted her feet on the bottom of the pool and moved her arms. And then, she swam. Kicking, breast stoke, face in water. She stopped, took a breath, and said, “Take my picture! Send it to Mommy and Daddy.”

She swam. I texted a picture from my phone, and Elaine swam the ten feet back and forth from the pool wall to me.

“I don’t want this noodle,” my Grand said.   She threw it onto the side of the pool and stood on the pool steps. “Back up, Gran, I’m swimming to you. Watch me!” And she did. Over and over and over.

Did my Grand learn to swim in that one hour at the YMCA? No, all those times through the years of playing and watching others gave her confidence and the desire to swim. Elaine swam when she was ready. Her swimming teacher was right.

And that’s exactly the way children learn best. When they want to learn.



One Response

  1. Thank you for the help! Your page is a great resource to me.


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