Thursday, August 17, 2006

Swimming lessons

If you ask me, I think swimming lessons for children under 4 are pretty much a waste of time and money. Put simply, unless you have your own pool, they just don't get it with a half hour each week. I think that swimming schools look at glee with parents who come with babies and toddlers for lessons: no pressure at all to get performance and lots of singing. An easy buck.

An article in Slate asks what the best way to teach children to swim is? It talks about literally throwing a child in the deep end and seeing what happens. There is a school of thought that believes this in Australia too. They got push back from the medical association because early swimming supposedly caused complacent parent supervision. Better to have them not be able to swim. To me, that sounds like putting the cart before the horse. Let's face it, having a child you can get themselves to the edge of the pool without an adult seems like a good thing. The message is that parents have to be careful. Full stop.

For us, the mother of my children is a great swimmer. She swims 3 times a week for about 400 km near as I can tell. She wants a child that will join her especially given that she has a husband with insufficient swimming skills even to aspire to be a beached whale. Child number 1 enjoyed the water and did nothing for 4 years of weekly lessons until they started rating her and that got her attention. Child number 2 looked very promising but then was afflicted with wineter ailments and ear plugs and at 5 has no real interest. Child number 3 actually looks promising but is stuffed because she is child number 3 and parents 1 and 2 are somewhat sick of swimming lessons: the commitment is off. But she will come back at age 4 and things will be different.

Suffice it to say, we have spent alot of time at the pool and have little to show for it. Child number 2 was going so slowly that the Swim School offered him an extra lesson for free each week until he passed to the next level. For free, that sounded good to me. So how many 'extra' lessons did it take until he was passed? One, yes one. He was passed on the next free lesson! Hmm.

In my opinion, here is the best strategy: wait until age 4 before you pay anyone anything. Then enrol in one of those intensive swimming programs -- everyday for a week or two. When we have done this, it has got results.