As a swim instructor, I have found that it is truly dependent on the child’s relationship with their parent that dictates what mom or dad should do for the duration of the swim lesson. Children can be very sensitive when it comes to their parents watching their lesson and it is up to the parent to know how their child will develop through the course of the lessons with their parents watching them learn, struggle, and succeed. While it is important for parents to monitor lessons from the poolside for safety reasons, it is ok to watch from a distance. Parents need to be willing to work with and trust their instructors when discussing where the best place for mom or dad during lessons will be.
Child and Swim Instructor Relationship Building:
Watching from a distance allows the instructor to develop a more personable and trusting relationship with the child they are teaching. This helps make your toddler's swimming lessons more fun and enjoyable for both instructor and child as well as make the child more willing to learn how to swim. Some children are very conscientious when it comes to learning and do not want their parents to see them struggle. These children benefit from mom and dad watching from a distance which makes them more relaxed, not afraid to make a mistake, and allows them to develop skills at their own pace.
Minimizing Distractions during Swimming Lessons:
If you know your child is not comfortable with you watching or simply does not mind where you are for the lesson, parents should be poolside at the start and end of lessons. Watching from a distance for the majority of the lesson minimizes possible distractions for the duration of the lesson. Parents are also encouraged to keep pets away from the pool area as well as other siblings to allow your child to focus on the instructor and what they are being taught. Swim lessons are no different than your child in the classroom; just as you would pick and drop your child off at school and not interact during class time, the same idea applies during swim lessons.
Some Children will feel an Increase in Confidence with their Parents Poolside
While there are benefits to watching from a distance, there are also benefits to being at the poolside for the whole lesson. For those children who thrive on cheering and encouragement, parents should most definitely stay for the lesson. Parents who are engaged in the lesson and know what the lesson plan for the day is, can aid the instructor to refocusing their child and making sure they have their listening ears on throughout the lesson.
Monitor Progress and See what Swimming Skills Your Toddler is Learning
Staying for the lesson also allows parents to monitor their child’s progress and allows for open communication and collaboration between parent and instructor. If a child is struggling with blowing bubbles out of their nose or putting their head completely back in the water, in addition to working on these in lessons, mom or dad can encourage their child to practice these skills during bath time.
Allow Your Child to Develop Trust with the Instructor
Being poolside also provides comfort to children when having a stranger come to their home or community pool to teach them how to swim. Having mom or dad present will aid the child in trusting their instructor which will allow the child to develop not only the ability to swim, but the ability to trust and learn from others. Swim lessons are for the child and whatever they are most comfortable with is what mom or dad should do during the lesson.
Enjoy some Leisure Time Poolside
If you choose to stay for the entirety of the lesson, do not feel obligated to be actively engaged in the lesson. A lot of parents like to be poolside for the lesson so they are there if a medical emergency occurred, to discipline their child if they are not listening or participating in the lesson, or they want to enjoy the whether while reading a book and watching their child learn.
Communicate with Your Swim Instructor
There are pros and cons of watching your child’s swim lessons from a distance and from the poolside which is why it is important that the parent knows how their child learns best. It is crucial that there is an open line of communication between parent and instructor from the moment the instructor is assigned to your child, to the last moments of the last lesson. If you are unsure how your child will respond to your location during lessons, talk with your instructor and come up with a plan that works for everyone.
Do What Works Best for Your Child's Learning Style
Whether is it starting off poolside and staying poolside or starting from a distance off the bat, as long as your child succeeds and learns to swim, that is what matters most. It is important to put your child’s learning preference first and do what is best for their learning ability during their swim lessons. While it is difficult for some parents to not be right at the side of the pool watching everything their child is doing, the ultimate goal is to make sure your child can swim and be safe when enjoying the water.
Hi! My name is Lindsey Bolas and I have taught swim lessons for the last 6 years. I grew up as a competitive swimmer starting at the age of 5 but now, I play soccer for Oglethorpe University. I have always had a passion for the water, in high school I taught lessons and was a lifeguard. My love for the water guided me to study biology at Oglethorpe and pursue a degree in Marine Biology. I have also gained experience teaching children through various soccer camps starting as young as 3 years old. I have been able to combine the skills I have learned from teaching soccer and swimming to efficiently and effectively teach children how to swim and be safe when enjoying the water!