What effects have the COVID pandemic had on our children’s swimming? (2.5 - 4yrs)
What challenges will this pose for each age group and how we can address these respectively? A reflection blog by Antony Edwards
The last 18 months has seen swim schools, like ours, closed for 220+ days! Children have missed weekly swimming lessons and the number of children 3+ who have not experienced a pool has significantly increased…these are some of the challenges we face moving forward.
Age Group #2: 2.5 years - 4 years
For many children this is the age they start formal swimming lessons and we foresee an increase in this number. These children have not had time to explore and learn how to move and be safe in the pool. They are however very active, mobile and developing independence.
What are some common new skills important for this age group?
Submerge and float through the water
Introduce kickboards to assist in buoyancy
Propulsion (movement) with arms and legs
Independent floating on backs
What are some of the challenges?
Following instructions from an adult other than a parent
- with reduced time & learning out of the home, children are less exposed to following safety instructions and can be less/more aware of danger in a new location
Swimming safety means it is a structured learning environment
- With more time in unstructured, online based learning, children may struggle to adjust to a very structured place of learning
- Children have been with parent’s day in and day out so separation will be difficult for some (especially those progressing from baby to beginner classes)
How can we, as a swim school, adapt to accommodate these challenges?
As a swim school we are assessing the past 18 months, the challenges, and the regression in children’s ability and the affect it has had on them. How we can do things better? All our teachers have been enrolled in a Child Safety Program, this focusses on all aspects of child safety but it’s important to remember we are all responsible for a child’s safety. Our teachers are also undertaking professional development through a program which consists of 105 different modules covering all aspects of learn to swim curriculum. Will this mean we change how we do things… maybe. Will these changes be visible… maybe. I’m sure many of the changes will be subtle, but I also know we want to make sure we do the very best by every child we teach.
While the pool doors have had to be closed, we have been working to create some videos to share with you to give you some tips to help you make your child more water familiar. The skills are fundamentals; even if your child had mastered them it can be a good way to introduce them to the water environment again. These are now available on our private Swimsafe Murrumbeena Members Only Facebook page, please request to join if you are not yet a member. [https://www.facebook.com/groups/swimsafemurrumbeenamembers]
How can parent’s best prepare their child at home for swimming lessons?
We ask that parents watch their children’s swimming lesson and communicate any concerns with the teacher. This may need to be reinforced, especially if we have a change of teacher. We understand many issues that children have, working through these is the task of both teacher and parent.
Children will be excited to return to the pool, this is something wonderful and we love seeing the joy on their faces. Please remember there will have been skill regression, even for regular attendees. Yes, they still have a love for the water, but we may need to take a couple of steps backwards in the adaption of skill acquisition. That first jump into the deep end is a bigger struggle. The streamline torpedo isn’t performed to the normal standard of the child. Some of the past fears have returned.
Please praise them for what they have done well. We don’t want to scare them but they are in a safe place. If we take a few steps backwards it is to help them regain their water confidence. We will all need a little patience as their muscles and brains re-learn some skills. Once they master it again they will progress at their own pace, we can’t rush them.