Starting Young…Starting Fearless
As parents, we’ve always believed in exposing our kids to a plethora of experiences. When they are younger, malleable and more flexible, it is far easier to teach them new skills. One of the skills we hope to ‘ignite’ in our kids is their innate ability to balance and float, both of which can be learnt through swimming.
Our little Buddy is naturally cautious by nature. However seeing how his elder sis loves to cycle, blade, swim and ski, he himself is keen to try some of these sports. When I tried to expose him to swimming, just like how I had tried with his sister years back, he was very resistant. From this, I knew that I would it would be futile and counter-productive to teach him how to swim on my own. We started asking around for a good, reputable swim school to help instill in him that first sense of water confidence.
Not too long after, we started our 3 year old son on a once weekly swim class with coach Eugene of The Swimming Room. We felt quite very comfortable from the get-go as it was a group approach – knowing young kids learn best when they learn together with their peers, in a happy environment without pressure.
The ‘ABCD’ of Swimming
The first success came as early as the end of lesson 1. From a boy who was afraid of water, he was willing to obey the coaches’ instructions. It was almost like magic! As an educator, I attributed the ‘magic’ to the following ‘ABCD’ factors:
1. Attire: Kids and coaches all wear the same swimwear – a customized wetsuit bearing the name of the swim school. This to me has benefits beyond just skin-deep.
Role-modeling: The kids see their coaches donning the same swimwear – this is effective role-modelling. Indeed, through the young eyes, they see an adult persona being able to swim well.
Peers: Kids also see other kids wearing the same swimwear. Through time, this establishes routine and predictability – to see familiar friends wearing the same costume, learning the same skills, achieving the same successes.
Conditioning: At home, we make him wear the same costume when he goes swimming with me . The moment he dons the costume, he knows its swimming time and it helps him to recall the skills which Coach Eugene has taught him.
2. Buddies: It’s an open secret that kids learn best when they learn in a group. Be it art, music, sports or inter-disciplinary work. Kids look to their peers for that mutual ‘support’ when they learn new skills. At The Swimming Room, the class that Buddy is in was so effective that after the first two lessons, his fear of water was almost virtually gone. In fact, now it’s the reverse – we have to prevent him jumping into the water unattended! Just look at the happy faces at every swim lesson!
3. Calibrated: This was perhaps the clincher – Coach Eugene was patient and calibrated the activities to the kids’ abilities (or the lack of it at first!).
He made sure he gained the kids’ trust by making swim lessons enjoyable and stress-free. Sometimes, they just splashed around the water with their feet or hugged onto him as he carried them from one end of the pool to the other. They played with floating hoops and made silly faces but beneath all these antics were very sound pedagogy – making the kids feel safe (and yet have fun at the same time) with the element – water. Once the kids felt safe, that’s when lessons start getting more serious. Every activity is well thought-off to let the kids experience incremental steps of successes and to eradicate the preconceived ‘fear’. Impressive!
4. Discipline: As an educator, I know first hand that no learning can take place unless there’s discipline. Discipline ties in all the values of respect and responsibility to produce resilience and results. At The Swimming Room, I’m happy to observe that discipline was instilled from the onset of each lesson. It has to be especially when it involves water.
Coach Eugene ensures the following:
- Kids listen to him when he is giving instructions.
- Kids stop and watch when the coach or their peers are demonstrating.
- Kids treat the ‘toys’ and accessories with respect, not throwing them around and learn to put them back at the proper place.
- Kids learn that there are times for frolicking and there are times for serious learning.
From telling them to ‘stop talking’ to apologizing to each other for cheeky antics, Coach Eugene is very patient yet firm. As a father of young kids himself, he is able to lovingly remind the kids week after week to reinforce discipline.
From Cautious to Confident
Buddy has started swimming lessons with Coach Eugene for about 4 months now and what a world of difference it has made! From a boy who was so very ‘sacred’ of having water splashed on his face to a confident boy who now enjoys and proclaims proudly he loves swimming class.
Buddy still can’t swim independently yet but we can already visualise him doing so with more lessons. Kudos to The Swimming Room for their sound pedagogy in imparting water confidence to young children. Goes to show how important it is to select a good swim school and we’re so very happy we’ve found the right one!
THE SWIMMING ROOM
TSR Pool @ NTU Alumni Club Level 4
11 Slim Barracks Rise (Buona Vista)