The British Swim School provided my children with these
lessons free of charge, but all opinion expressed are my own.
lessons free of charge, but all opinion expressed are my own.
O. M. G. It's been MONTHS since I've posted anything and I'm feeling so, so, so bad about that! LuLaRoe took over my LIFE!!! But - I'm now on hiatus from my favorite clothing line, so it's time to get back to my favorite blog :)
My kids recently finished 6 weeks of swimming lessons at the British Swim School and I need to tell you about this. Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of death in children under five??? I didn't. But I do know that I don't take my kids to pools often, and especially not by myself, because I'm TERRIFIED of them drowning. They NEEDED these swim lessons. Of course for their safety, but also for my sanity.
My two oldest have perviously had swimming lessons, but when we moved 2 years ago we had to stop because the school was too far. I'd heard only good things about BSS from friends with kids who take class there, that when I saw their booth at the WEAR Conference, I stopped to check it out.
From that meeting, BSS arranged a private, 6 week class for all 3 of my kids. How awesome is that?!?!? This was super convenient. #3 was only 20 months when they started and technically should have been in a separate class. But it was nice to have all 3 kids together for the sake of time. We learned after the first class, though, that he should definitely be in a separate class - he wouldn't follow the rules of sitting on the wall while each kid had their turn, so my husband ended up sitting with him on the ledge during each lesson so he wouldn't drown lol! He LOVES the water and never wanted to get out of the pool!
So besides working with us on time, there are SO MANY things I loved about the way The British Swim School runs it's program.
1 - The breakdown of skill levels.
The British Swim School takes students as young as 3 months old. The first skill students learn is the back float, as it is considered "the most important water survival skill. It enables swimmers to rest, breathe and call for help, alleviating the “silent” danger of floating face down." After students have mastered this skill in the Minnow class, the "classes are divided into levels breaking down the skills of swimming strokes. Children first learn to swim the length of the pool on their front and back, then strokes will be introduced, then speed and stamina. Once in Shark 2, children have the skills required to join a swim team." (http://britishswimschool.com/faqs/)
#1 was very, very afraid starting out. He would hold on to Sarah's shirt instead of doing his "airplane arms." But with work and patience, he eventually was able to let go.
#3 had no fear of the water at all. It was difficult to keep him on the wall when it wasn't his turn in the pool.
#2 isn't afraid of anything either.
2 - The method.
I can only speak on the Minnow level, but I LOVED that the kids learned to float while their instructor Sarah, sang songs. She would sing the "ABCs", "On Top of Spaghetti", "I Had a Little Turtle (Tiny Tim)"(which is SUPER cute and #1 sings it all the time now!). It gave them a distraction from their fear and also a time frame to practice their skill.
3 - The environment.
The Skokie, IL location was fairly small, which I really liked because I didn't have to worry about them running off from me while we waited for their lessons to begin. There is a play area in the lobby so the kids are occupied before and after their lessons. This was super helpful after lessons when I had to change 3 wet kids! And the cabanas for changing are right in the lobby, so I could get one kid changed while the others played. There are chairs so parents can watch their kiddos through the big window, and there are also chairs near the pool if a parent needs to be inside the area, but not in the pool.
4 - The patience.
Our instructor, Sarah, was VERY patient. #1 is kind of terrified of water. He's the kid that plays AROUND the baby pool in the yard but doesn't actually get in it. He was afraid he was going to drown during his lessons, so he had a hard time letting go of her. Sarah was very good with managing his nerves and when he wouldn't let go of her shirt to practice a certain skill, she adjusted to him.
As you can see, #1 is holding on to Sarah for dear life. This happened during most of the first 5 lessons. He let go during lesson 6!
If he needed to practice his airplane arms (arms straight out to the side while learning to float on his back) but he wouldn't let go, she'd give him short goals - 5 seconds, 10 seconds - just try it.
#1 practicing floating without holding on for a time frame that Sarah set for him.
It took ALL 6 LESSONS for him to start letting go! But he finally did!!! And after that lesson, he said he LOVED swimming class. That was a big deal.
An example of Sarah's patience. #2 crying is not at all abnormal.
As you can see from my Snaps, by lesson 6, he was finally comfortable!
During week 5 of our lessons, BSS held Safety Week. The kids had to do their entire lesson in their clothes to learn how to complete their skills in case they were to fall in a pool fully clothed. I thought this was a really clever idea! After week 5 we went to my nieces birthday party at a community pool. I felt so much more at ease knowing they'd learned about pool safety during that week's lesson. And #3 let me practice his back floating with him and put his head under water several times. Truth be told - #3 did the best overall with his lessons. He absolutely loved every second of every lesson.
#1 practicing his bac float during Safety Week
I would never have thought about teaching them to get into the pool like this. MUCH safer than going in forward facing.
We are going to continue lessons with The British Swim School. We really loved everything about the experience. We will be splitting the kids up - #3 will be in the Young Minnows class, since he's still not ready to sit on the wall and wait his turn. #1 and #2 will continue in the Minnow program and will hopefully soon learn to float on their backs unsupported.
I think it's pretty obvious from their big smiles that my kids had a GREAT time during their lessons, despite their fears.
I'm grateful for the opportunity to have my kids learn to swim with the British Swim School. This was a super positive experience and I definitely recommend anyone give it a try. They have locations all over Chicagoland, including Elmhurst, Oak Brook, Schaumburg, Naperville and within Chicago's city limits in Lakeview and the West Loop, among many, many others. Visit their website to find the location nearest you.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Until next time,