Monday, May 25, 2009

Teaching Tools at La Petite Baleen

We see our swim school as an aquatic classroom. As former classroom teachers, Irene and John Kolbisen know it takes many kinds of tools and aids to help a child understand a new skill.
We were also serious swimmers and took many tools and materials from other arenas, to "capture the imagination" of different children in the water.

Some tools are classics and fins are a perfect example. They help to elongate a child's kick, they slightly overload the leg muscles which make them stronger. They especially help a child 'feel' how the water pushes or flows with a kick. We don't use fins as a crutch, and children gradually get stronger and we gradually take the fins away.

Interestingly, advanced strokes go back and use the fins again. The fins again speed up the learning process and we remove them when a student gets to a certain level of confidence and ability. World class and collegiate swimmers use fins all the time to keep variety and strength training in mind (just ask our daughters Liesl and Anya who swam at U of A and Cal).

Fins, as well as other aids are simply a small support system through out the learning process.

Often parents don't realize the benefits of goggles. Try this little exercise: stand on one leg with your eyes open. Then, close your eyes and feel the difference. Our eyes give us a lot of balance.When children use goggles they have about 60% MORE balance as they can see better underwater. Swimming has as much to do with balance and breath control than it does with kicking and paddling. Goggles help children to find their balance in the water while allowing them to "treasure hunt" at the same time!

We have nose clips for some children who initially sniff water. This is something we really watch for. Getting water in the sinuses is not fun. We use the clip so there is a positive learning curve, much sooner.

I think we are the only swim school in the nation that uses the 'motorboat'. I bought it for my three kids as a trampoline but, being kids, they tossed it into the pool. I watched how creative and FUN it was. I also realized that going from up to down often gives babies a good clue for anticipating a breath hold. So sit jumps and motorboat have always been a part of our curriculum.

Within the swim school world we are famous for having such a variety of toys, mirrors, magic carpets, etc. to engage children. It looks colorful out on that pool deck...and happy, just like our swimmers!

(Lita) Irene

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