AAP Swimming Lesson Guidelines
Summer is upon us! This time of year, we always see a wave of new students, many of whom come from families who may not be aware of the benefits of year-round swimming. We get a lot of requests for “intensive” lessons or “drown-proofing” classes. Parents want some sort of crash course, guaranteeing their child will be “water safe” in X amount of lessons.
This approach to swimming is antiquated and dangerous - we’ve been saying so for years. Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics agreed that it’s to a child’s benefit that lessons should “continue lessons until basic water competence is achieved.”
Here are the AAP Guidelines for finding a swim program and the ways LPB meets them:
Have experienced, qualified instructors
|LPB teachers go through a minimum of 40 hours of training, which includes dry classroom sessions and in-water student teaching with senior staff. We also offer monthly continuing education programs for our teaching staff. Through these workshops, teachers learn new skills, tips, and tricks that are both specific to our swim levels and cover various general topics like class management and keeping lessons fun and educational.|
|Teach good safety habits in, on, and near water.||Our swimmers are not allowed to enter the pool until their teacher has invited them into the water. They learn to always wait for permission to start their turn. When our pools are unattended, we make sure that they are clear of toys, floats and other temptations.|
|Teach what to do if they end up in the water unexpectedly.||We teach a turn-around sit jump to all students under 3 years old - even babies. From their very first lesson, we help students learn to fall in, turn around, and go back to the wall. At the wall, we teach them to hold on, “monkey walk” to an step, and/or climb out of the pool. As they progress through our program, they learn to do this without fins and, eventually, without goggles.|
|Let you watch a class first to see first-hand if it is right for your child.||Yes! By all means, come to one of our schools and check us out. In fact, you don’t have to limit your observation to the viewing room. We offer free trial lessons so you can literally get your feet wet and learn what the La Petite Baleen experience is all about.|
|Require multiple sessions.||LPB is a pioneer in the year-round swimming concept. Read on for more reasons why perpetual lessons are important for children.|
For kids, learning to swim is not like learning to ride a bicycle. They won't easily retain the skill unless they’re consistently putting it to use. Learning to swim is more like learning a language or playing an instrument where if you don't use it, you lose it. We believe that no one should “lose” that skill.
Year-round swimming provides an opportunity to keep student’s swim - and safety! - skills fresh. If your child hasn't been in a pool since the end of summer and they happen to fall into a fountain at the local shopping center in May, you'd want them to remember how to hold their breath and be comfortable in the water.
Considering a Break from Year-Round Swimming?
Breaks can be beneficial for some families. But there may be alternatives that haven’t been considered. Let’s look at some common reasons our families stop their lessons:
“They’re too young to learn anything.”
Let’s be direct here - that simply is not true. Every day in our pools, we have babies as young as 4 months old who have learned to recognize the cues for a submersion and properly hold their breath. We have toddlers who can paddle and kick to go 6-10 feet from the step to an island. Kids think they’re just having fun playing games like choo-choo train or underwater toypedo, but they’re really learning important swim skills like kicking or breath control. When attendance at lessons is consistent, kids will learn. When lessons are comprised of developmentally appropriate tools and activities, kids will learn.
“They’ve hit a plateau.”
This happens! But possibly not for the reasons you think. Plateauing is a normal part of the learning process. It gives students time to consolidate (or file away) skills they are learning. This can sometimes take an extended period of time and seem as though the students aren’t making progress. Our teachers are trained to recognize this and communicate with their Deck Support, who can provide feedback and suggestions as well as communicate with the parent/caregiver about what is happening. Our teachers and deck staff will come up with a plan and include you in the conversation. If you’re concerned about your child hitting a plateau, please feel free to reach out to your teacher through a Parent/Teacher Communication Form on our website.
This also happens! It may be partly due to hitting a natural plateau in their learning (see above), or it may be that they’re just not connecting with their teacher. The student-teacher relationship can make or break a child’s experience in the water. Consider a Splash & Dash lesson here and there to see how your child responds to a different teaching approach. Our staff all teach the same curriculum, but each have their own style and personality. Your Deck Support, Director on Duty or front desk staff can help you find a better fit if necessary.
“We’re going to be traveling.”
Awesome! If you want to hold your spot, consider taking advantage of our Summer Suspension program. If you know you’re going to need a different swim time when you return in the Fall, consider switching to that time instead of cancelling and suspend the new spot. Whatever you choose to do with your enrollment, be sure to reach out to your teacher or to one of our Deck Support staff for some “swim homework” ideas for while you’re away. Summer swimming can be a great time to practice some of the skills we work on in our classes. And be sure to review our Summer Safety post to ensure a fun and safe summer for your family!
“LPB is too far/too hard to park/too crazy on the weekends.”
We get it. And though it might not be a great marketing pitch, we understand if the hassle to get to us leads you to take your business elsewhere. As Dory reminds us, it’s most important to “just keep swimming” even if it’s not at LPB.