It only feels like the other day, but it was actually a year ago that I last wrote a specific review about our Water Babies swimming lessons. At that time, we – or should that be Toddler L – had completed Chapter 4 and was having an absolute blast in the pool. As tends to happen with a sequential numbering system, we did Chapter 5 (Sep to Nov), Chapter 6 (Nov to Feb) and have just completed Chapter 7 (Feb to May.)
During previous Chapters, it feels like I’ve done nothing but sing the praises of Water Babies. I hate to be repetitive, but I’m going to have to do exactly the same this time too as I genuinely can’t fault anything they do. The changing rooms are a bit chilly, but they can’t control everything! The communication outside of lessons is good, the actual lessons are great, our teacher is friendly and Toddler L is thriving – maybe she was a fish in a past life?
Starting @WaterBabies Chapter 7 today. If we continue at this rate, I’m going to be a well good swimmer soon.
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) February 23, 2017
In terms of structure, Chapter 7 has been no different to previous ones – by that, I mean it’s still 30 minutes long, is at the same time, at the same place and with the same teacher – Catherine. This consistency has ensured that there’s no hiccups along the way, such as getting used to a different instructor or conflicts with nap times.
There have been changes in the pool though. The biggest one being that the toddlers are treated as toddlers (if not older), with an emphasis being placed on independence, confidence and safety in the water. All of this is done through the familiar teaching which incorporates singing, games and other fun things. The transition from Chapter to Chapter has been seamless and continues to be so.
As with everything Water Babies, what we do is progressive. By this, I mean that we’re continually building upon things that have been taught before, whether that’s the previous week in Chapter 7 or months ago in Chapter 5. For instance, it seems an age ago that we were taught “monkey, monkey” where your child learns to move themselves to the left and right by holding onto the pool edge.
These days, an individual activity like this sounds so simplistic. “Monkey monkey” has been combined with other activities to make one big task for them to complete – it’s a bit like Ninja Warrior UK. For instance, the other day, Toddler L “monkey’d” down the length of the pool, pushed herself off from the side with her feet, grabbed onto the side of the pool which was perpendicular, “monkey’d” across that side, then swam the length with just one of my hands on her chest. That’s a far cry from when we were trying to get our babies to hold onto the edge of the pool unaided.
I’ve also noticed that some of the lessons are more ‘themed’ than previously. For instance, we had one lesson which incorporated more breathing activities than normal, e.g. blowing bubbles to a mirror, blowing bubbles underwater and flipping over the ‘spaceship’ with bubbles. Then, another lesson was focused more on legs, so this involved things like lying on a pool noodle and kicking their legs or laying on their back and kicking a ball. Not every lesson has been like this though.
As Toddler L is a bit older – and thus more advanced – than some of the other kids, she’s often pushed that bit harder, which is definitely a good thing. Similarly, the younger kids often do simpler versions of what Toddler L does. As such, each child is treated as an individual based on their own skills, rather than a one-size fits all approach. To put that into an example, Toddler L was swimming with just a pool noodle when other parents were providing additional support. The only ‘right’ is what’s right for your kid and there’s no pressure to play catch up.
Obviously it’s difficult to give you a ‘typical’ lesson as there’s no ‘typical’ these days. Each lesson feels the same, but is different – if that even makes sense. Similarly, there are so many different activities that we’ve learnt in all of the previous chapters – it’s not like in the early days when there were maybe 10 things we repeated each week. So, to give you a flavour, here’s some of the things we did during a ‘typical’ Water Babies Chapter 7 lesson:
- Intro song – “Hello, how are you…” (I still don’t fully know the words!).
- Kids wash their face and hair with the water, then do the same to the parents.
- Instructor stands in the middle then does a ‘1, 2, 3 swim’ with each kid, i.e. counts to 3 when moving them back and forth, then sends them underwater to the parent.
- Kids climb out of the pool and sit on the side. Kick the water with straight legs to soak the parent, practice tiger arms in the air, then dive in with hands together and above head.
- Toddlers hold on to wall, then kick off the wall as we sing “zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to the moon”.
- Each kid is given a ball which they throw, then retrieve, with the parent letting them go as they swim.
- All balls put into a bag with the bag submerged under water. Everyone goes in a circle with the kids on their back. As the balls are released, the kids kick the balls.
- Each child is given a pool noodle and swims on their front and back without the parent holding them.
- All parents make a tunnel with the pool noodles, then the child swims from one end to the other through the tunnel.
- All in a circle and sing “The Hokey Cokey” with appropriate actions.
- All kids sit on a big floating mat and parents sing “jelly on a plate” or “row, row, row your boat” – kids dive off at the appropriate time.
- Sing “twinkle, twinkle” to end with kids laying on their backs.
As you can see, this is a real mix of things. We still have the fun, silly stuff, but this is seamlessly incorporated with more mentally and physically demanding activities. I am genuinely amazed at how well Toddler L does in the water – seeing her swim with the pool noodle and without me is pretty incredible and shows just how far she’s come.
Obviously all kids are different, but her confidence, determination and enjoyment in the pool is purely down to doing Water Babies’ classes. I wouldn’t change that for the world as I think learning to swim and being comfortable around water from an early age is such a vital thing to teach our kids. Thanks to Chapter 7 and here’s to Chapter 8!
Have you ever done swimming classes with your child? How does your kid get on in the water? Let me know below!
Liked this? Then you may also like my other swimming based posts such as 4 mistakes to avoid when swimming with a toddler, baby swimming versus toddler swimming and 4 things I’ve learnt from baby swimming lessons.
N.B. We receive complimentary Water Babies swimming lessons in exchange for sharing our swimming experiences.