At Sea Otter Swim Lessons we often hear parents express concern for their child’s safety in and around water, which is why teaching water safety is a major focus for our little swimmers.
When children learn to love, respect, and be safe around the water, something magical happens. We foster a personal relationship built on trust with each child that helps shape them in so many positive developmental ways.
Early Swim Instruction = Confidence
This year we want to share the many benefits that swim lessons provide to your child, as well as how Sea Otter carefully creates lessons to nurture your child’s development.
At every level and age group, one of the most rewarding moments is the moment when a student feels the joy of achievement. Watching their sweet little faces soak in the success of accomplishing a skill they have been working so hard to master is so amazing. This moment begins a snowball effect, and leads to the next “I DID IT” moment, and the next. Talk about building self-confidence!
One study by Liselott Diem, quoted in Lana Whitehead’s presentation to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance Symposium 2012, found that children who had swim lessons from ages 2 months- 4 years were more independent, adapted better to new situations, and had greater self-confidence than children who did not.
Babies are busy developing their sense of self by learning their boundaries and limitations, and exploring the new things they are able to do. An activity like swimming perfectly compliments this stage of development.
Nurture attachment in positive ways!
And let’s not forget the importance of the emotional and physical bond between a parent and child in a baby’s development of self. Research has shown that a firm, loving touch encourages feelings of attachment, commitment, and connection (Rosengren 2004).
Encouraging positive attachment is one of the reasons why our Parent Tot classes are so great at helping to extend all the wonderful parent/baby bonding happening at home. In our Parent Tot class, we encourage you to hold your baby in the water in a way that creates a positive learning environment where baby can feel secure. When your baby feels secure, they will feel comfortable to explore and learn new skills…like turning back to wall or floating on their backs!
Parents and teachers are quick to embrace baby and congratulate with tender (sometimes exuberant) positive cheers. Our parent/tot instructors are trained to facilitate triumphant moments like these to weave a nurturing environment conducive to learning and building self confidence for each baby.
Swim instruction style matters
Student safety, water safety, skills, and progression are a large part of the training we provide our teachers. However, our teaching model is not one size fits all because we recognize that each child is unique, and so is the way they learn. This is why our teachers are equipped with the tools to teach many different styles and are trained to create a positive learning environment where every child feels safe, encouraged, supported, challenged, and believed in.
A big focus of our teacher training (and our administrative staff too) is to invest heavily in each child we have the privilege of teaching, even if it is only a moment in time. We recognize that the words, tones, and body language our teachers use all have the power to build up the child we are teaching.
Positive reinforcement and swimming go hand-in-hand
Instructors are encouraged to use “specific” positive feedback when communicating with their swimmers. Blanket statements like “Good Job”, “Great Work”, or the constant “Awesome” are positive, but not specific to what the child did a good job on. When we are specific and intentional with our positive feedback it highlights the behaviors we want repeated. For example, “Suzy! Your ballerina kickers were tiny…and so fast! They made the perfect small splashes and you were really booking it on that lap! Let’s try it again and this time….” is positive, and Suzy knows exactly how she rocked it!
Being positive even when something didn’t go so great is important too. For example, “Johnny! I LOVED your enthusiasm, and that you tried so hard,” is great to instill that trying is half the battle. Johnny is now super excited to try it again! Another reason why specific positive feedback is so great is that the student knows we are really watching and taking the time to invest in them.
Appropriate goal setting in lessons is another way teachers create opportunities for success and the building of self confidence. Mastering a new skill or accomplishing a goal set in class is something we try to reinforce with positive feedback and a reward.
Our new ribbons on the deck have been a huge hit! We hear the joy in the kids’ voices telling mom or dad they got a ribbon. There are even phone calls to grandma and grandpa as they skip back to the car. The kids are so satisfied and proud of themselves!
“Self esteem is a confidence and satisfaction in oneself and an evaluation of one’s worth. All people, young and old, need to feel special and good about themselves. Feeling confident and competent, as well as feeling loved, are basic human needs that are important for achieving one’s social and emotional potential” (Whitehead, 2013).
Sea Otter Swim Lessons is committed to providing an environment in which a child can feel safe enough to try new things and accomplish goals, leading to a greater sense of self confidence. We delight in the opportunity to love, invest, believe in, build up and teach each child that attends Sea Otter Swim Lessons, and hope that each family walks away knowing and having felt the true heart of our company.