The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Swim School Ideas

As we prepared to get nearly 100 second graders in the water yesterday, many of whom have NEVER been in the water before (believe it or not), I did something I wanted to share with you that you may enjoy. In fact, you may want to try it next time you have a large swim lessons group as it had every child engaged:

After dividing up the 100 swim lessons students into three time slots, with about 33 swimmers per half hour, we gathered the first group on deck. With five instructors in the water, I had created five single file lines with an average of 6-7 children per line. I was about to have the instructors do a freestyle kick demonstration in the prone kick position (also known as the in-line kick). This is the second of two tests we do (first test: kick with a noodle or kick board with the face out of the water). This test determines what group we are going to place the students. One other note, 95% of the children are African American, and I’d estimate up to 50% of them have never been in a swimming pool.

So I say to the kids: “Someday when you grow up (like when your 21 or 22 or 23 years old) and my swim teachers are old and gray and retired, I would love to have some of you in here teaching swim lessons for me! So today we’re going to do a little role playing and pretend you are the teacher for a minute and see how well you do. Let’s imagine the swim instructors are your students taking swim lessons from you. I’m going to tell you softly what to say, repeat after me: Arms straight (arms straight), fast kick (fast kick), face in the water (face in the water), ready-go (ready-go)!”

It was such a neat thing to hear those 2nd graders pretend they were the swim teacher and to see the teachers do what they said. I even think it reminded the teachers how effective choral responding is and how important start signals are in their own teaching. There was no question what those kids playing the role of swim teachers wanted their teachers to do!

So there you have it:  a quick little swim school idea that that was fun for the kids and good for the swim lesson instructors too!

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September 28, 2010 at 4:29 pm Comments (0)

Swim Lesson Toys

Do you incorporate the use of toys when you teach your swim lessons for kids?  Swim Toys can certainly add a dynamic to your class that helps young children get extra excited about learning, and often even help redirect a child who may be scared or hesitant in the beginning.  Nevertheless, when you teach swimming lessons to children between three and five years old, I think it’s extremely important that the toys have a purpose.  In other words, don’t just have toys for the sake of having toys.

Here is a list of examples of swim lesson activities, the swim lesson toys we use, and the purpose of what we are teaching in our preschool swim lessons curriculum at Swim Lessons University:

  • First Time Submersion (skill), Danny the Dolphin Time (activity), & Dolphin Puppet (toy)
  • Kicking (skill), Let’s Go Fishing (activity), Floating fish and small nets (toys)
  • Prone Kicking & Breath Holding (skill), Super Heroes (activity) and Super Hero  Capes (toy)
  • Paddle Stroke (skill), Pretend You’re a Puppy (activity), and Puppy Noses, which we place on the forehead (toy)

Many times you can do without toys and just get the children to use their imagination.  That’s a big part of making learning like play.  We do this when we practice swimming with the face in the water, and we pretend to “Swim Like a Fish (activity).”

You can watch these activities in action and many more on the Swim 101 and/or Home Swim School DVD’s.  You can also watch free swim lesson video samples of some of these swim lesson ideas to get an inside look at what great DVD courses we have for you and your swim lesson instructors!

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September 21, 2010 at 8:16 pm Comments (2)

Swim Lesson Songs

As the late and legendary TV host Fred Roger’s from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood wrote, “When you help a child enjoy music, you’re also helping a child develop learning skills, like listening, coordination, imagination, and memory.”

Swimming lessons too, are a great place to help a child enjoy music.  I have always incorporated songs and music into my Parent & Me and Swim 101 classes, which you can get a free sneak preview of on my Parent & Me YouTube Video.   Singing songs the children know can also help alleviate anxiety and redirect a young, potentially fearful child’s focus to something other than what he/she is worrying about.

Here a few of the songs we like and use in our Parent & Me and Swim 101 classes:

  • “If You’re Happy & You Know It”
  • “Rain, Rain Go Away”
  • “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring”
  • “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”
  • “The Wheels on the Bus” (our version “The Babies in the Pool”)

As I noted, when we sing “The Wheels on the Bus,” we substitute the words “The Babies in the Pool.”  When I sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to my Swim 101 students and I feel I need to encourage them to kick more, I sometimes substitute the actual words of the song with “Kick, kick, kick, kick, kick your feet,  splashing in the swimming pool” so they are getting specific feedback/instructions while singing the melody of the song.

One way or the other, when you teach baby swim lessons, swim lesson for toddlers or preschoolers, you want to make swim lesson songs a part of your daily swim lesson plan.

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September 16, 2010 at 2:34 pm Comments (0)

Swim Lesson Games

When should you “play games” in swimming lessons?   When I coached USA Swim Age Group Swimming full time, I always reserved about 20 minutes every Friday for Water Polo unless we had a swim meet.

For swim lessons, however, I think it’s a little different, especially if your lessons are 30 minutes or less.

With young children, say under the age of six, there is no question that you should make learning like play.  You can call them games–I call them Swim Lessons Activities.  In my new Swim 101 DVD and in my older video, Home Swim School, I packed the video and lessons with activities that make learning more fun for preschoolers.

Here is a short list of examples:

  • Kicking – “Let’s Go Grocery Shopping”
  • Breath Control – “Hide Frog Hide”
  • In-Line / Prone Kick – “Super Heroes”
  • Back Kick – “Sing Yourself to Sleep”
  • Paddle Stroke – “Pretend You’re a Puppy”
  • Swim with Face in the Water – “Swim Like a Fish”

In fact, you can watch some video examples on my YouTube station on both Swim 101 and Home Swim School.  For this age group, you can’t go wrong with using swim lesson themes and swim lesson activities to make learning fun.

For children age 6 and over, I really focus more on skills when I teach.  I keep learning fun and positive, but I don’t necessarily incorporate swim lesson games into my swim lesson plan.   I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, and if you have some good ones, I’d love to hear them and I will be happy to give you credit for them if I decide to post (totally up to you)!  But in general, I think that when we have 30 minutes to teach a child age 6 or over,  “swimming” at this age is fun in itself.

On the other hand, preschoolers and young children under the age of six years old need activities to redirect them and make something that may seem a little scary more like play.  So in our swim lesson plans that we do with this age group—the children are learning and practicing skills without even realizing how hard they are working . . .   That’s what swim lesson games are all about!

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September 10, 2010 at 5:13 pm Comment (1)

Swim Lesson Techniques

When you are teaching any given swimming technique, your instructions typically should focus your swim lesson students on a set of cues or buzzwords.  For example, you may say something like:  “Here we go, I want to see you keep your kick small and fast while during your side breathing.  Ready, go!” 

Because your instructions or buzzwords emphasized “small and fast,” your feedback should then be congruent with your instructions.  In other words, when your student finishes the swim, you should comment on how your student performed the part of the skill that you had him/her focusing on.  

Too often, swim instructors will tell their student to concentrate on one thing and correct them on something else.  It’s important to try and avoid this mistake because it indirectly confuses your students and isn’t the best motivational tactic in the world either.  On the other hand, if your feedback specifically relates to what your instructions were before the swim, then you increase your effectiveness. 

Why?  Because your student’s focus is rewarded when he or she does well.   At the very least, your students will learn to focus on the task at hand, trying their best to impress you, especially if you reward them with praise when they are successful.

You can learn more about this swim lessons tip and many more in the Teach Like a Pro DVD.

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September 6, 2010 at 12:06 am Comments (0)

Swim Lesson Seminars

Swim Lessons University just hosted its’ first of two “One-Day Conferences” for the fall of 2010.  Says swim school director Aileen Donnelly of New Jersey, “Thank you, Jim Reiser, for the seminar.  I learned some new ways to teach and I also loved that you reinforced how to teach kids to swim, especially how I teach swim lesson basics to my  five year old and under swimmers.  I share your passion on helping young children learning to swim and becoming safer swimmers.”

The next Swim Lessons University “One-Day Conference” will take place in Las Vegas on Oct. 11th.   Register online today at Swim Lessons University.

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September 4, 2010 at 4:28 pm Comments (0)