Did You Know Some Swim Schools Force Babies
To Put Their Faces in the Water
—Even If It Makes Them Cry?
Our Gentle Play-Based Learning Causes No Tears
"Skills-Based" Programs Cause Your Baby Undue Stress
Our philosophical objection to these "skills-based" or "survival" programs is that they allow instructors to force the skills on a little child. Infants and toddlers don't have a lot of words. Their small stature makes it easy for an instructor or parent to physically force immersions, back floating, and front-to-back rolling.
When a child comes up crying, sputtering or coughing, an instructor can say that it's part of the learning process, and the little one doesn't have the words to lodge a protest.
In aggressive, skills-based programs, instructors teaching survival swimming will even say that "a little crying now is better than having your child drown and never hear her cry again." This type of aggressive approach violates the dignity and trust of a child.
It's unnecessary, and it doesn't produce a safer and better swimmer. It produces stiff and robotic movements and an underlying fear of the water and teachers.
Imagine learning to swim as an adult from an instructor who takes you in the deep end and dunks you repeatedly, teaches you skills that you aren't ready for, and then tells you "it's part of the process" when you cough and throw up water. You would probably ask for your money back after that first lesson.
We Use Games & Songs to Make Swimming Fun for Babies
At Chicago Blue Dolphins, our baby and toddler swim classes use a child-centered approach. Songs, games and toys bring joy to the learning process, which helps the children learn faster/better and eliminates pressure, anxiety, crying and coughing.
When children are happy and enjoying learning in their swim classes, the skills become ingrained in a positive way. This leads to stronger, higher quality swim strokes as they develop.
All of the activities we incorporate into our classes are building toward underlying swimming skills and strokes. The games, songs, and toys "distract" the children, let them use their imagination, and take away the pressure and anxiety of learning. The skills sneak in—along with joy and a life-long love for the water.
A Note from Coach Fitz
When I decided in 2009 to start a baby swimming program, I looked for a child-centered curriculum because it matched my wife's and my philosophy on raising our daughter.
I was overjoyed when I found the McKay's Lifestyle Swim School in Boca Raton, FL. When I read that they had taught about 17,000 babies, I figured they knew what they were doing. It's been 8 years for us, and I haven't had a single regret with selecting a child-centered, play-based, gentle program. The laughter and smiles I see in our baby classes every day just deepens my conviction.
We hope to sing "Wheels on the Bus" with you and your cutie soon.
How Do Our Baby-Centric Classes Compare with Skills-Based Teaching?
The table below draws a comparison between child-centered and skills-based learning approaches. We've drawn it from our mentors Rob and Kathy McKay's amazing baby swimming book, Learn to Swim.
Chicago Blue Dolphins