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The Power of the Plateau

We’ve shared in the past that Plateauing is common when it comes to kids learning new skills, but did you know plateaus are a good thing? The time we (adults) sometimes perceive as a “stalled learning” is usually the time they (kids) are processing their learned skills.

Plateauing helps with retention - it's a time when young brains cement skills and create strong synapses. Repetition is key! Kids will use repetition when wrapping their heads around new concepts and skills. For some students, plateaus are few and far between, but for others they're more frequent. In most cases, plateaus are a normal and important part of the learning process. However, with about 10% of students, plateaus are the result of feeling unsafe or anxious with a skill or situation.

So how do we know if the plateau is ok or anxiety-based? We’ll be sure to read our students’ body language to start. If we sense tension or anxiousness, our teachers will incorporate more fun and silliness into their lessons. Pushing a student who is already feeling anxious isn't going to yield positive results. In fact, it's more likely to work against the student, causing even more regression and plateauing.

How can parents support a plateauing student? Positive words before and after swimming go a long way. Easing back from sticker- and ribbon-focused discussions will help too. Watch their lessons and find the things that they’re doing that bring them the most joy, share that joy with them and leave it at that. “You looked so happy doing your pencil jumps today! I loved it! I love watching you swim.”

For more on the benefits of plateauing, check out this “Whaley Quick” video from LPB co-founder, Irene Madrid: