How NOT to Teach a Child to Swim!
First and foremost, you are not to blame for Mason’s horrible experience. Both you and he were victims. I had a bad experience when I was seven years old and I thought I was drowning. I did not have a person who kept subjecting me to the terrible torture of being pushed under water but I didn’t have anyone trying to help me either.
As a result I developed a fear of water that has lasted me all my life. Even today, I can’t bear to see little kids left by themselves on the edge of a body of water, large or small, because I’m afraid that they will be washed under by a wave or pushed in by other kids playing near them.
I’ve seen some instructors who will toss a baby into the water and then tell observers how the tiny babies will automatically hold their breath and start to dog-paddle all by themselves. I can’t believe that is a true statement.
Anyway, you were right to complain and complain loudly. My only advice is to work with Mason over a period of time and show him how nice swimming can be. Many times, over the years, I did wish I had learned how to swim but it never happened. Swimming is really something everyone should know how to do.
Please, don’t be too hard on yourself. I know you and Richard are great parents.
Oh, Angela, I feel so bad for you and Mason. Please don’t beat yourself up. You’re one outstanding mom.
The videos and your description are horrifying. I brought my baby into the pool at six months old to a mom and tot class. Moms held the baby facing forward and we floated rubber toys in front of them, just out of reach, so baby would have to reach for them. Lots of giggles and joy. We didn’t let go of baby. One of my babies has now Scuba dived all over the world and is a marine scientist. 🙂 Yep, the gentle method works.
Thank you for exposing these tyrants!!
Hugs to you,
Regarding your experience with ISR and the teaching of swimming, I was horrified to read of you and your son’s experiences. I used to teach swimming to adults and cannot begin to understand ISR’s rationale for their methods. When I taught adults, naturally they were nervous initially, having never learned to be comfortable in the water. Accordingly, I spent plenty of time getting them accustomed to simple steps, like holding on to the side of the shallow end of the pool while briefly immersing their faces in the water and “blowing bubbles”. This simple, commonsense approach (which had worked for me in childhood) seemed to work for these adults as well as it does for young children. In some ways, I think it may have taken even more courage for these folks, because they had spent a lifetime fearing the water.
A slow, gentle approach encouraged them to relax, get used to having their faces immersed, and gave them the security of knowing that they were neither in water over their heads, nor even helplessly adrift in any sense. Gradually, they learned to be confident and less rigid and nervous, allowing our lessons to progress to more advanced steps, like letting go of the wall while I gently supported them and they practiced kicking, or putting their faces in and turning the head to grab a breath. I never pressured them, and they quickly unlearned their fear of the water.
So sorry your child has been terrorized by these people. I honestly can’t imagine how they could have believed this was a productive approach to teaching a child to swim.
Best of luck with your transition to life in Florida.
I’m so sorry Mason – and you! – had to go through that. Thank you for posting this warning. My daughter is almost three and we are looking into getting her swimming lessons in the fall. We are looking at the offerings at our local Y, but I’m glad to know to steer away from the sort of program you took Mason to.
Try not to beat yourself up too much. I know that’s easier said than done. But you didn’t know. And as soon as you *did* know, you corrected the situation. And that’s all we can do sometimes.
everyday miracles – http://www.bflomama.com
We’ve had several good experiences at the Y but one very bad one. When our oldest son, Zach, was at his first group swimming lesson, I happened to notice a child on the bottom of the pool. Quickly lying on the ground by the pool, I reached way down into the water, grabbed the child by the hair and, when the child’s face emerged, I discovered it was MY child! He let go of the side and he sank right there. He held his breath and didn’t choke or inhale any water. I’d gotten to him in time. Nobody noticed him fall in, including me.
The instructors were a bunch of teenagers and they were busy throwing flotation devices at each other instead of watching the small children sitting on the side of the pool kicking their feet. I sent an angry letter to the Y and they apologized and offered him private swimming lessons. That didn’t work so I found a private instructor who was wonderful and taught him how to swim in just five days. Zach was about five years old at the time. He wasn’t afraid of the water at all. He just needed a trained professional to teach him the basics.
Thank you so much for the list of publishers to avoid. I was always suspicious of them. Just so you know your contest is listed in my Scribal News Calendar of contest and events.
Book Reviewer, MyShelf.com and Atlantic Publishing House
Author of 2nd Edition of The Write Life