Have you ever done the early morning registration for swimming? You wake up at the crack of dawn, start up your laptop and log into the swimming website. You find the codes for the classes you hope to enroll in and then have your credit card ready for the moment it hits the start time.
When the clock hits that magic time, you enter your codes, praying they show space and click enroll, watching the cursor spin until it adds your kid to that class, only to have to go back to the home page to enter your second code and pray all over again. Then you enter your payment information, all the while praying that the site doesn’t crash from all the parents trying to do the same thing you’re doing – vying for that coveted spot in the class for a time that works with your schedule.
Most of the time I am successful at that little battle. Then the rest is up to my kids.
For the past year or so, I have registered my kids this way, in the same level of swimming lessons. And they have failed – multiple times. It was defeating, both to them and to me. And yet I threw money out the door again and again in the hopes that they would pass.
Each session that passed, ended with a report that had different things checked off that they could and couldn’t do. It wasn’t consistent. Meaning that in one session they could do everything except cross the pool on their back. But then the next would say they were missing two different skills but they could cross the pool on their back.
I had them retested and yet still enrolled them.
Swimming is a life skill. No ifs, ands or buts about it. They must learn how to swim.
Frustrated and overwhelmed, I didn’t know what to do. I turned to social media to express my exasperation with the community centre pools. It wasn’t simply because I was paying for them to repeat classes (4-5 times each), it was that they were disappointed. My kids can read now, so they can see that they failed at a skill that they previously were told they passed. They were even more frustrated and began to fight me in going to their lessons. They were defeated and confused and I could see them trying, but in a class with 6 kids, the time they actually spend doing the skills amounts to about 7 minutes. Break that down and it costs me about $18/hour for them to fail.
And please know that I’m not expecting them to pass just because they did the level. If they deserved to fail because they weren’t doing the skill, than I would be okay with that. But the lack of consistency and the fact that I was told that the Little Bird only failed because her arms were not straight. But she could do the skill.
Guys, I’m not made of money here, but are we training Olympic swimmers or teaching life skills?
So, my friends and followers suggested I try a private pool. Granted, they warned me it was more expensive, but they have smaller class sizes, and they focus only on the skills they didn’t know. Once that skill is mastered, they move on.
D and I decided to give it a try. For the spring session, we enrolled them at a private facility and paid a whole lot more, but asked for the girls to be evaluated. The Little Bird went in at a level 4 (failing 4 previous times). The Little Mouse went in at a level 2 (failing 3 times before).
On the first day of lessons, they spent quite a bit of time with each of them to evaluate what they could and couldn’t do. After that evaluation, they approached my husband and I and told us that they should both be in a level higher than they were. So, they moved them up.
Week after week, I saw huge improvements in both of them. Arms straightened, back strokes got faster, dives got less belly-floppish. By the end of the session, I was actually preparing for them to redo the levels. They were new to the levels, and while I saw an improvement, I was okay for it to be repeated.
But guess what happened?!
They both passed.
Not only was I elated, but they were both so excited! They saw that their hard work paid off. That they mastered what was asked of them and they were getting more confident in the water. It is amazing the effect of positive praise, and smaller class sizes can do for a swimming lesson. And their self-esteem soared. Ultimately, they spent more time in the water. In fact, there were often times when the Little Bird was the only one in her class, so she ultimately got a one-on-one lesson! The Little Mouse had a teacher and volunteer at all times, so she was rarely sitting out.
They worked on what they needed to master, and moved on. They re-tested those skills consistently over the course of the class and provided updates on their progress. I knew how they were doing at all times. And was encouraged to speak to the teacher whenever I had a concern.
More importantly, my kids didn’t fight me to go to swimming. They loved going. They felt empowered and encouraged. They felt inspired to try hard and work hard.
And it all payed off!
As a parent, we all want the best for our kids. We want them to succeed and thrive. We don’t want them to feel discouraged or to give up on something unless they accomplish their goals. This was how I felt about swimming. The continuous failures only discouraged them. Made them want to give up. Made my job harder in getting them to go and not fear the water.
Private lessons may not be for everyone, but if you feel discouraged like I did, I would urge you to check out your options. The community pool isn’t the only option.