The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

How to Teach Babies to Swim Safely

Whether you are a swimming instructor or parent, when it comes to teaching infants and toddlers to swim–PLEASE choose your approach carefully.   It is absolutely imperative that you really research the pros and cons of the teaching method before enrolling in an infant swimming program, especially one that may promise drown-proofing or mastering survival skills.  These approaches can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening.  Simply put, your baby’s (or student’s) life and emotional well-being is in YOUR hands.

Teaching an infant or toddler to swim can be done successfully in a naturally progressive, child-centered learning environment.   One that is gentle and kind.  It is my professional opinion that this is the ONLY method any responsible person should consider for a baby.   We certainly want children to learn to swim for safety, but there is no iron-clad, guaranteed defense against drowning.  There is no such thing as drown-proofing.

In fact, the Broward County Drowning Prevention Task Force in Florida published a program called Water Smart Babies.  They created the program to help educate parents on how to best protect their children and keep them safer around the water.  Water Smart Babies stresses that the parent is the most important factor  and encourages parents to Follow the Safer 3, a layered approach to drowning prevention.

To keep infants and toddlers safer, parents should be taught to take every precaution when the child is in or around the water.  Never let your guard down no matter how many lessons a toddler has taken or how many times they have shown the ability to swim.  To keep children safer, we must combine learn-to-swim with as many layers of protection as possible, from touch supervision, to lifejackets, to fences, to self-closing gates, and pool alarms.

But you ask:  What about those infant-survival skills that  I’ve seen on YouTube?  I believe former NDPA Executive Director Kim Burgess hit the nail on the head in the position statement for the Broward County Drowning Prevention Task Force, “The water-survival skills program make compelling videos for the internet, but no scientific study has yet demonstrated these classes are effective.”

The report also concludes that these types of programs place inexperienced swimmers in what he perceives as life or death situations.”  If practiced repeatedly this places a child in a chronic stressful situation of “saving his life” every time he swims, which could detrimental to the child’s emotional and cognitive development.

Karen King, also referenced in the report, states:  “Putting babies in life or death scenarios is not an acceptable teaching practice in swimming or any learning situation. It’s like showing a child a busy street, putting him IN the road, and watching to see if he makes it to the curb.”  Do you see the cruelty and absurdity in this?

The bottom line is that the ultimate goal of teaching infant, toddlers and young children to swim is so that they love their swimming experience and learn to be safer in the water in the process.   Like any other worthwhile skills, skill mastery is a process–not an event.  Don’t be fooled!

Here is a short video example of what the Swim Lessons University “Parent & Tot” learn to swim program looks like.

Give a child a lifetime gift–teach a child to swim using a gentle, loving approach.   An approach that has proven effective for not only my own three boys, but for the thousands and thousands of students who have safely learned to swim with a Swim Lessons University certified instructor.

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

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December 8, 2016 at 3:03 am Comments (0)

How to Teach Breath Control to Infants and Toddlers

The goal of today’s blog is to give you insight on teaching breath control to infants and toddlers, including how and when to teach it and why and when you should leave the activity and come back to it on another day.

First of all, at Swim Lessons University, we strongly recommend that instructors wear goggles while teaching breath control to infants and toddlers.   NEVER do consecutive dips if the child is not happy and getting his or her breath between dips.   You can see earlier breath control videos where we only did one or two dips with Rex because that is what he was ready for, and he wasn’t ready for three or more.  Each dip should be  an individual attempt to successfully get the air exchange.  The bottom line is to stay child-focused, and avoid “one more dip” for the sake of doing it.  So how do you know if you should do another one dip?   Your young students facial expressions, body language, and obvious level of comfort will answer that question every time.

Whatever you do–DON’T FORCE a dip when infant or toddler is communicating “no,” or you find the task to be upsetting him, even if he has done it before!  This is precisely what causes “regression.”   Make no mistake about it, it is not uncommon for a child who has performed a skill in previous classes or even earlier in the same class to get upset.  If the infant or toddler is not up for the task at that point in time, let your experience do the talking and leave it alone until the next class.  Parents and instructor need to accept that and understand that it is no uncommon and okay.   When an instructor or parent pushes a skill on a young child “just because the child has done it before, you are setting the child up for more of the same or worse the next time you meet because you would be reinforcing a negative experience.  The result of pushing an activity on a child that is upsetting him for whatever reason, is he will often start to associate negative, unhappy feelings with the task at hand or even the pool all together.   That is a path that you don’t want to take.

As Mr. Roger’s used to sing:  ” I like to take my time, I mean, when I want to do a thing, I like to take my time to do it right.  I mean I just might make mistakes if I should have to hurry up, I like to take my time to do it right.”   Take Mr. Roger’s advice.  Take your time and do it right!

Here is a video of example of doing it right:)

For step-by-step information on how to teach infants and toddlers to swim, check out Swim Lesson University’s “Parent and Tot” Video Course.  This 90-minute video is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to teaching infants and toddlers to swim in a progressive, but child-centered environment.

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

 

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October 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm Comments (0)