Four year old thrown in at the deep end, literally!

So teaching your little ones to swim is undoubtedly important and probably the sooner the better. Our little chap had swimming lessons when he was a baby, enjoyed water on his face on holiday at 2 and 3 years old and was confident in the water with arm bands. However, after two courses covering 30 weeks at a local children’s swimming class in Hertford he was still at the same stage so I pulled him out.

A group of us decided to try out the ‘October Crash Course’ at Haileybury, and boy what a roller coaster ride so far!

The first lesson took place yesterday, there were a total of six in the class, and three of them were Freddie’s friends (all four year-olds) and two others, a little boy who was about three and a little girl about four. To our horror (parents that is) the children were told to get into the water, and hold onto the sides, with no arm bands and it was deep!

Questions from us parents were flying around:

‘Does this man know these kids can’t swim?’ ‘Should we go and tell him?’ ‘OMG!!!’

Then he made them get out. Phew… Ok so that wasn’t too bad, then it was time to get their faces wet! Cut a long story short, two of us were having kittens while this teacher had the kids jumping in and letting them go under water. With hindsight this wasn’t really too bad, Tom (the instructor) was there to bring them back up, but they didn’t like it. Then they were asked to swim relying only on woggles.

 ‘He’s not watching the one behind him? How is he going to watch all of them at once?

The three year old cried and cried, and was soon taken away, four of the remaining five cried too, with Freddie sobbing and sobbing and refusing to get into the water. We agreed (much to the teacher’s disgust) to let Freddie use arm bands with his woggle and for jumping in.

This seemed to work for him, the others just got on with what they had. Good on them!

So we went back today, I promised Freddie that if he didn’t use arm bands today he wouldn’t have to go right under the water, his aim was use the woggle as an aid rather than the bands.

Now I am not a fussy mummy (well I don’t think I am) so each child this morning was asked to jump in, in turn. (oooh forgot to mention that two didn’t return and we had a new recruit). This wasn’t too bad, Tom the instructor took their hands when they looked nervous and didn’t let them go too far under until… It was Freddie’s turn, Tom held out his hands, Freddie jumped in, he went a little under, which was great, then shock horror, Tom threw him in the air and let him drop! My heart stopped, all the mum’s and lone Dad with us were aghast and Freddie was distraught!

The whole lesson was a roller coaster of emotion, all the other kids handled it fantastically, none of them cried and they all really worked hard. One actually swam for the first time and the others took to going under water like they had been doing it for weeks, not just a half hour lesson. Freddie found much of it hard, and it took all my will power not to get involved and pull him out. Now don’t get me wrong, I think Tom was probably wrong to throw him back in, and he adjusted his teaching for Freddie after this point but I am so glad I kept out of it. By the end of the lesson Freddie was actually floating, unaided on his back!

I am not sure what the rest of the week is going to bring, and the teaching style of Tom may not be to everyone’s taste but: swimming is not just a sport or recreational pastime, being able to swim is a life saver and sometimes life is tough. I hope I can drag Freddie back tomorrow, and that I can hold myself back for another lesson!

Until tomorrow…