A great instructor stands out from the rest!

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What is a great instructor and how do you get one?

I believe that a great instructor really stands out from the rest.

It is often when the parents sit on the side and think

“Wow! how can we get her/him to take our children”

What is it that gives that edge over other instructors?

  1. Confidence – Knowing what drills need to be done to encourage change from a fault in the stroke.
  2. Approachable – If you are approachable then kids will feel at ease with you and try hard when they are swimming.
  3. Timely – Always on time and ensuring that the children get the maximum amount of swimming time.
  4. Feedback – Constructive criticism is given constantly.  A Positive, something that needs to be worked on and another positive.
  5. Continuity – If you can keep an instructor for a few terms then you will be winning.  That instructor will know your child and will be able to pick up where they left off from the previous term.  They will get to know your child and what works or doesn’t work.
  6. FUN and sense of Humour- One of the most important things when you are teaching swimming is to have fun with the kids, so that they want to come back again and again.  Build up a relationship with the child so they have a connection with that instructor.

There are some amazing instructors out there and they are not always the ex swimmers.  I have had some amazing instructors I have worked alongside of in the past.  Some were mums who were amazing with kids.  Some were students who had, had barely any experience teaching swimming.

You will know when you have struck an amazing instructor!  Your kids will talk about them and really want to go back to swimming.  I have had dolls named after me at home because I had made such an impact in their lives.

Get a great instructor and hold on to them!

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The importance of PLAY.

Before I had children of my own I taught in a very structured manner.  Children would come and they would do what I told them to or up on the wall they would sit.  At the swim school I used to work at lessons would only be 20 minutes long so I would try and cram as much into that time as possible.

Parents want to see progress from week to week.  If you let the child just explore the water often this takes much longer and the parents are not seeing the progress they are paying lots of money for.

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It is important to have children explore the water and have structure.  Some children do better with less structure and others do better with lots of structure.  Everyone is different and we all learn at different rates.

 

Often I tell parents to go to the pools and let their kids just play as they will gain more confidence.  At Turtle Swim School I encourage play before and after their lesson.

Swimming lessons are often only 20-30 minutes long so there does need to be some structure within this time or children will not be getting much out of their lesson.

 

It is often the children who are beginners who really benefit from play and unstructured holistic learning.  It is scary coming to a big pool for the first time and trying to get a child to put trust in an adult that they have never met before.

 

Can’t afford to take your children to formal swimming lessons?  That’s ok!

 

Encourage play at the local pools, friends pool, your pool or the beach.

The kindergarten format is to learn by play.  Exactly the same concept applies with swimming.  Take your babies, toddlers and preschoolers to the local pools during the week for a play.

It is FREE for all under 16’s in Auckland, in South Auckland FREE FOR EVERYONE.  It costs me $5 to get in to west wave as a supervising adult.

 

I have taught my children to swim quite differently to how I have taught children in my swimming lessons to swim.  We will spend at least an hour at the pools often longer and the whole time is pretty much unstructured play, we have diving and mermaid competitions and often I only get 5-10 minutes of structured swimming.

I teach my children all 4 strokes because they have a small attention span so I find by not concentrating on just freestyle and backstroke they are more engaged.  We also do water safety where I get the kids jumping into the deep water and coming back to the wall to gain deep water confidence.  So even though there is only 5-10 minutes of structured swimming there is always a lot of unstructured learning and play involved.  I may spend only 5 minutes teaching my children how to do breathing to the side but the whole time we are at the pools they are learning.

 

You can do this too!  Just make sure you make a habit out of it.  It needs to be a weekly activity.  Pick a day and have that day as swimming day every week.  Make sure you are always within arms reach of your preschoolers and toddlers and get in the water with them.

 

You don’t have to be a swimming teacher or even good at swimming to teach your children to swim.  Most often us kiwi’s have learnt to swim growing up and even though you may not know the exact steps, you can teach your children confidence in the water.  The fundamentals of swimming are confidence and floating which you can teach your own children.

 

Play is extremely important in whatever your children are doing.  Whether they are learning at home, kindy, day care or swimming.

You will gain more confidence from your children if you are allowing them to play as well as having a lesson.  If your instructor decides to spend time playing with the kids don’t be too concerned.  Most parents will be sitting on the side thinking I am paying all this money for my children to play!  But often if is the best thing for them.  Your child may have plattoed or is struggling with picking up a skill and they need some time out to just relax and play.  Your children will then be more enthused to come back the next week because they will be looking forward to the play.

Always encourage PLAY!

 

If you need some help please don’t hesitate to ask me for suggestions.  I would love to help out.  Helene at turtleswimschool@gmail.com or www.turtleswimschool.co.nz

 

 

What is more important, learning to swim or learning water safety?

Recently whilst being at the pools I was wondering what is more important.  Teaching my kids to learn to breathe or teaching them to be safe in and around the water?

Being a swimming teacher myself I have high expectations for my own children.

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I would like to see my 4 year old son swimming the length of the pool breathing by himself before the end of the year and I would like for my daughter, 3 years to be following closely behind knowing how to roll out and breathe and trying to swim by herself.

Am I being to hard on them?  Am I pushing them too much?

in the past I have had a 4 year old swimming 30 lengths of the pool breathing.

My expectations for my children are to be among the group of kids that I have taught that were at the top of their age group.

But maybe it is too much to expect my 4 year old son to be swimming 30 lengths of the pool before he hits 5 years old.

Being a swimming instructor I feel as though teaching two preschoolers how to be safe in and around the water is crucial!

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I have taught water safety from the beginning and will continue to teach it every time my kids are in, around and near the water.  My kids are confident in the water with and without goggles.  They are confident in deep water and are continually taught to float on their backs if they are in trouble.  I am always talking to them about water safety so that it is always something that they are thinking about when around the water.

I teach my daughter to kick across the pool and then roll on her back to breathe and then turn over to kick again to get to the other side.

Even though I feel as though my kids are water confident it doesn’t mean that I am not always within arms reach of them.

But that brings me back to my initial question.

As a parent I think water safety is much more important than teaching your child to swim lengths of the pool.  The 4 year old child that was swimming 30 lengths of the pool.  Did that child know how to be safe in deep water?  Could they float on their back if they got in trouble or could they just swim lengths of the pool.

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Some things that you could do to ensure your kids are water safe;

  • Take your kids to the public pools and get them jumping into the deep pool and swimming back to the side.
  • Teach lots and lots of back floating
  • Teach your kids to roll from front to back
  • Ensure that your kids know how to swim without their goggles on

So I think I have answered my own question!  Learning water safety is crucial.  Floating is the base of a good swimmer so if your child is water safe it will reflect in their learn to swim lessons.  I think I need to ease up on the pressure I feel that I put on my kids and know that they are both fantastic for their age, confident and happy in the water.

Does my child need one to one lessons?

I think there is a time every parent thinks

“Should I spend some money and get my child a one to one lesson?”

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One to one lessons can be fantastic for progression.  It gives the instructor time to concentrate on your child without having the distraction of others.

If your child is disrupting other children by screaming or not wanting to get in.  They have been to many lessons and you are not seeing any progression or you can see their frustration when they are not understanding what the skill being taught is.  You may like to think seriously about getting a 1:1 but you may also be able to save some money and help your kids yourself.

I have had many kids come to me for a one to one over the years and it proved to be great value for money.  I had one child who was struggling with his breaststroke kick.  All he needed was a little bit of time just me and him and he took everything I said on board and put it into his swimming and by the end of the session his breaststroke was beautiful.

I have had other children who are beginners and just need a bit of time spent convincing them that the water can be an enjoyable experience.  It is sometimes hard to get children who are screaming and unwilling to enter the pool in the water when you have other children waiting for a lesson.

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If your child is a beginner and has not been to the facility before on the first lesson they may be hessitant.  My sugestion is to come to the pool early to watch other lessons and get familar with their suroundings.  If you come to the middle of the term and your child is still hesitant to enter and upset coming then I would say that having a 1:1 might be a good idea.

If your child is stuck on a particular skill sometimes having a 1:1 can get them over the hurdle.  I would also recommend always going to the public pools and keeping that confidence up.

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As much as we don’t want it to happen often something happens and your child goes backwards.  Maybe they were in the bath and they went under the water?  Or they went to the pools and got a big mouth of water?  Maybe there has been a change in the family a new baby, parents have separated, child has moved houses.  Sometimes we as parents don’t know what the cause is but the instructors have to take a step backwards to go forwards.

It is often frustrating for the parents and instructors when we  know their child was doing a particular skill or was at a certain level and now they can no longer complete it as well as they previously had.

Sometimes like I have said above your child just needs a bit of play time in the water at the public pools to gain that confidence back.  If it is something like a near drowning this is more delicate and I would recommend having a professional instructor do a 1:1 with you.

1:1’s can be excellent and get great progress out of your child.  But you can also take your child to the public pools to regain that confidence or build it up.  You may only need one or two 1:1 lessons.  I don’t feel as though you would ever regret getting a 1:1 and spending that money.  If you feel your child needs it then go for it and also ensure that you are taking them to the pools.

 

If you would like to book in with Turtle Swim School please contact Helene on turtleswimschool@gmail.com or 0211024184

Do you run swimming lessons in the winter?

Recently I have had lots of people ask me “What do we do in winter?”

“Do you do lessons somewhere else?”

As much as I would absolutely love to continue lessons in the winter I feel as though it would just be too cold swimming in the hail, rain and thunder!

That does not mean that swimming needs to stop for you and your children.

In the winter I take my kids down to the local swimming pools once a week. It is free in Auckland for under 16 year olds and is only $4.90 for a supervising adult. If you travel out south it is totally free for everyone! So there are no excuses.

If you can make time once a week to take your children to swimming lessons you can make time to take them to the public pools.

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“But I don’t know how to teach them to swim” you say.

You don’t need to know how to teach your children. You will be surprised at how much they will learn by just playing at the pools.

1. Take your children to the pools once a week.

2. Have competitions to see how well they can do.

3. Use their older siblings to encourage them to practice.

4. Don’t push learning too much, let them play and just try to get in a tiny bit of swimming when they are ready.

5. Use bribery! I tell my kids that they have to do some swimming to get sushi for lunch. Seems to be the only way I can get them to show me some swimming.

6. Practice at home. If your children are doing arm strokes or breathing get them practicing on the table with their heads down and manipulating their heads and arms.

7. Make it fun, change it into a game where your kids have to swim to their sinkers across the other side of the pool doing their arm strokes and breathing.

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You could always take your child to different swimming lessons during the winter but I feel as though you can keep up the progress they have made by just getting to your local pools once or twice a week.

You will be amazed at how well they can do and retain what they have learnt at lessons with play.

If you can get to the pools this winter then your children will retain what they have learnt or even progress a wee bit and your instructor can continue come term 4 lessons.

It is so important to keep the swimming up. If you don’t go to the pools in winter you may end up with your children digressing and your instructor may have to go backwards before going forwards when going back to lessons.

My advice is to continue with lessons else where or go to the public swimming pools once or twice a week during the winter to ensure that your children don’t lose what they have learnt this summer.

Keep up the good work and get your kids into the water!

 

If you are interested in learning to swim with Turtle Swim School please contact Helene at turtleswimschool@gmail.com or on 098263366

Things to expect from your Swimming Instructor

IMG_3070  You arrive at the pool; you may have been before to have a look and book in, or you may have booked over the phone or internet. So as you enter you may be feeling a bit anxious, nervous or excited and are wondering what to expect.

 

It’s important to remember that whatever you are feeling your child is also feeling, so as you enter you would normally expect someone to greet you with a smile, ask your name and show you who your instructor will be.

 

As an instructor myself I notice new children are often shy and will stick close to their parents, so I will usually give them a sneaky smile even if that child is with another instructor. Hopefully this makes both you and you’re your child a little more comfortable.

 

Your son or daughter will be watching the lessons from the moment they enter the pool. If the instructor is loud and boisterous with the other children in the previous class this may make your child either more anxious or excited.

 

As an instructor it is important to start building a relationship with your child from the beginning. I generally comment on their togs or clothes, tell them that I think look pretty or cool and make sure I keep smiling!

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When it’s your child’s turn to enter the water, the instructor should call out his or her name and you should both go up to the instructor and introduce yourselves.

 

As a parent myself and an instructor, I am always watching the clock. Some of us do and some of us don’t, but if the lesson is only 20 minutes I want to ensure that my child gets the most out of their 20 minutes in the water!

I have had parents sit on the side of the pool with stopwatches and time how long their child has been swimming. In a half an hour lesson her daughter got 7 minutes of actual swim time. As parents we are paying for a 30minute swim class, you should expect at least 25-30 minutes of actual swim time. Each child should get an equal amount of time with the instructor during the lesson.

 

Children should be sent across the pool in groups or one at a time in a circuit and the activities will be done as a class. I normally have a class of 4 children. Two children will go across the pool I will help one and look at the other at the same time. On the way back across the pool the other child will be helped.

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The instructor should be manipulating the children and should be specifically commending, recommending and then commending. Children love to be encouraged and praised, this is why saying something positive before telling them what they need to work on will ensure a great result.

For example:

“Sally your kick was amazing but next time try and reach out as far as you can with your arms. I loved those fast legs well done.”

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Sometimes preschoolers do need some down time on the side of the pool to have a little play, and this is ok, but usually an instructor will allow time for this while they are taking another child across the pool.

Instructors should try and engage with you as the parent/caregiver in the class. Children love swimming and showing off for their parents or family. I have had a parent come to swimming lessons every week, sit and read a magazine, and then complain at the end of the term that they didn’t see any backstroke being done. As a parent it is important to watch and engage with your child’s lesson. This is how they progress and get better.

 

Things that a good instructor will know and do!

 

  • They will know your child’s name
  • They will be able to see an anxious child and work with it, by talking to the child and building trust
  • They will never force or push your child under the water
  • Your child will have maximum swim time
  • Your instructor will be timely, encouraging and positive
  • Have fun and play games
  • They will understand how to correct a fault in the stroke.
  • Teach your child as an individual

 

Instructors are usually very patient, encouraging positive people who generally have a passion and love for their job. Most of the time they go out of their way to ensure you are happy and that your child is progressing and getting the most out of their swimming lessons.

Find a good swimming instructor and try and hold onto them because they will do wonders for your children!

For more information or to book a swimming lesson at Turtle Swim School call 09 8263366 or email turtleswimschool@gmail.com