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Why Won’t My Child Do It for Me?! Swimming in Lessons vs. Swimming at Home
Jun 24, 2019

life-saving-floatingIs your child floating and swimming great with us during their swim lessons, but won’t do the same with you at home? Why is there a difference?

As you’re reading this, keep their skill level in mind. Goldfish and Stingray students are still learning the basics. We know it may be frustrating, but be patient. They are still gaining the confidence they need to try new things with us at lessons as well.

Ok. Back to the difference between your child’s swimming in lessons vs. swimming at neighborhood or backyard pools…

We need to consider the different environments. Home is an outdoor, non-heated pool with the sun shining directly on them, where swim lessons take place in an indoor, heated pool with no sun shining in their eyes. One trick you can try to help this is using tinted goggles. That may help with going under water AND floating on their back without being bothered by the sun.

Another trick is to use some of the same equipment we use in lessons. Barbells are a fabulous investment! We use them from Starfish (parent/child) classes through our Kingfish level where we teach breaststroke. In our lower levels, barbells help students gain confidence and independence. As your swimmers get older, we use barbells to improve their freestyle kicks and to learn how to do their big arms.

Dive rings are also a great way to help them make the connection between lessons and home pools. And diving for rings is FUN!

We also have to remember that the kids are used to "play time" at home. Often times they may not perform as well at home because being in the pool with family has always been fun, and going to swim lessons has been work. Pushing them too hard at home (play time) may create a dislike or resentment of swimming if they are ALWAYS pressured to work.

swimming-in-bubbles

One good idea is to set a timer for 5-10 minutes. That is their “work” time. When the timer goes off, then they can play! We want pool time to be fun for your family!

Allow them to choose the activities they want to work on. This may mean you have to do 100 glides or 100 Humpty Dumptys! This results in your child having a blast while you are actually working on breath control and getting back to the step safely! Shhhhh. Don’t tell! They think they are just playing! Getting them to float on their back may be a different story. Let us be the “bad guys”. That is the hardest safety skill we teach, so be extra patient on that one!

Sometimes kids will say, “You don’t do it like Mr. Collin!” or “That’s not what Ms. Casey says!” Kids know us as the experts! They need to be convinced that mom and dad really do know how to help them! We are more than willing to let your child know that you DO know what you’re doing and will hold them and keep them safe, just like Mr. Jordan does. To help this, make sure you are using the same key words and phrases that we do when you’re swimming at home.

  • "1,2,3 Bubbles"
  • "Eyes down"
  • "Big arms" 
  • "What do you do if you fall in the water?" (the answer to this one is "Float on my back!")

swimming-with-barbells-2

We encourage you to practice at home, but don’t push your swimmer too much. If you are wanting to integrate what they are learning at swim lessons to neighborhood or home pools, we encourage you to do it slowly. As swim instructors, it takes us time to build the children's trust and confidence when swimming.

You can start off with only kicking on the barbells or getting rings from the bottom while still giving them play time. Once they are not fighting doing these little skills at home, add in pushing off the step with their eyes down, and then move on to swimming with arms or floating on their backs. Do not feel discouraged if your child is not performing as well at home.

It will take time, just as it did for us.

If you have a younger or beginner level swimmer, and they are wearing a life jacket at home, make sure you do your 5-10 minutes of “work” (practice) before you put the lifejacket on. You NEVER want to take a lifejacket off and get back in the water! This increases the risk they will get in the water without a lifejacket on without your permission.

Remember that we strongly discourage the use of floaties or puddle jumpers. Both of these can give you and your children a false sense of security. Being able to jump in the pool and pop right back up are not realistic or logical consequences. Floaties also encourage children to maintain poor body position. It will take a lot of time and effort for us to correct this.

goggles-and-barbells

Have a fun and SAFE summer in the pool! Make sure you are practicing good safety skills like making sure your swimmer is waiting for permission before getting in the pool. Always have a Water Watcher whenever you have company over to swim in the pool! This is a person who is dedicated to watching the swimmers and should not be distracted by a cell phone or conversation.

If you have more specific questions or need advice on anything else swim related, contact your HSC location.

We love your kids! We teach lifesaving skills and so much more!

Creating memories for your family is our family business!


Written by Lizzie Biddlecome, Pool Manager of Houston Swim Club Katy


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