Swimming in a pool under a blue and sunny sky feels luxury in Indy, given the short summer we have here. June was the official start of summer. So, I decided it was time for my two children to really learn how to swim. My son is 6 and my daughter is 3.
The place I took my kids for their semi-private swimming lessons is Westview Healthplex (sports club). The reason I love that place is the year-round warm water in its indoor swimming pool. At the first lesson, everything was as exciting as it could be, until the moment our instructor showed up and started the lesson right away. It’s understandable that she was on the 30-min clock.
Within a few minutes, this young lady with straight face gave a supporting hand and asked my son to make a T shape with both arms extended and to stay floating. As a mother, I could immediately feel my son’s struggle. This is a boy who is terrified to get his face wet in the swimming pool! Now his ears, mouth, and half of his face was under water. Every time he tried to wipe water out of his face and then became unbalanced, the instructor spoke without single trace of sympathy: “I told you! Don’t move your legs! Where is your belly? Look up!” It’s definitely a training, probably for a soldier?
Comparing with my obedient son, my 3-year-old daughter is more determined by her intuition. When it came to her turn to learn the exact same “trick”, she started out fine, but got scared once water entered into her ears. Naturally, she wanted to stop. But the instructor wouldn’t let her give up easily. It’s then everyone in the pool heard my daughter’s ear-exploding crying and screaming of “NO” all the way up to and echoed back from the high ceiling roof. I put up a fake smile on my face, trying to collaborate with the instructor by staying out of the way. But watching my little girl fighting against taking any more orders and crying with pouring tears was unbearable for me. Finally, my originally water-loving baby girl jumped out of the pool by herself, run into my arms and would never go back again.
Surprisingly, my son seemed has enjoyed his first swimming lesson. He is proud that he learned a new trick on the first day. I’m more than grateful that my boy is an excellent student. Not-so-surprisingly, my daughter calmed down right after the lesson was over. She even enjoyed playing rubber ducky in the pool for a while. She started laughing with all heart before the tears dried out from her eyes. When I asked her if she would come back next week, she said yes. I felt bitter and sweet.
Day 1 was a roller coaster experience for me. Here is what I’ve learned:
1. All swim instructors come in different personality, education background and with different experiences that listed with selected details on their introduction page. I should read more into the number of years in their swim teaching experiences. The number is a solid factor, that can’t be decorated.
2. All kids are different. Some work better under pressure; some are better off with incentives and encouragement. Not to mention that kids at different ages go through different mind stages to learn things. I should have stepped in earlier to suggest a short break for my daughter, so that she wouldn’t “run-away” from the lesson so decisively. Parents, trust your inner connection with your children and protect their joy of learning! A teacher on the first day was in nowhere to know your child better than you.
3. Arranging a “sit-in” section before the first lesson with your selected instructor should provide more than enough opportunity to observe his or her personality and teaching style with other students. A good chat with other parents in the swimming lessons will produce more insights and leads to desirable teachers that you couldn’t tell from a uniformed introduction list. Then you’ll get the perspective if it’ll work out for your children.
4. As painful as it is, changing instructor in the beginning is discouraged by all aspects of logics. However, I’m clearly aware that I have conflicted feeling about our current instructor. So I want to know what my kids really think of their Day 1 experiences and what they like and dislike about it. Then I’ll discuss with the instructor over the phone to see if any adjustment can be made for the future lessons. Over all, I’m there for my kids to learn with good communication, confidence and joy.