For the last year, Toddler L and I have been doing Water Babies baby swimming lessons – most recently, Chapter 4. To clarify, this has mainly been for her benefit, although I’ll admit that I’m quite partial to surfing with Bubba the Whale or chasing rubber ducks around the pool. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.
Since starting our Water Babies journey, we have completed Chapter 1 and 2, done the underwater photoshoot, taken Chapter 3 on two occasions and have just finished Chapter 4. I can honestly say that we love doing the lessons – they are different to any other classes we’ve done, it is teaching her practical skills and it has been a great way to bond and develop trust.
It has not always been easy – particularly when the sprog has hit the water wobbles stage – but seeing her develop her confidence in the pool each week is incredible. Having just completed Chapter 4 – which has been our favourite to date – I thought I’d give an update on what we’ve done during this series of lessons and explain how things have progressed from previous Chapters.
Chapter 4 Overview
One of the main things I’ve noticed through Chapter 4 is that the kids in the pool are being treated more like toddlers than babies. This means that they are being given extra independence, are being taught about consequences and are being pushed that bit further than previously (not literally!).
So, for instance, the kids now enter the pool from a sitting position on the edge rather than being carried in as previously. The things we are doing are also that bit more complicated – rather than just being asked to do one task, they are being put back to back in order to create a sequence.
As with all Water Babies Chapters, everything that is undertaken builds upon previous teachings. This means that your little one has a certain level of familiarity with what they’re doing and how they do it, but there is a continual push to do more in order to avoid complacency. Let me give you some examples.
- The idea of holding on to the side of the pool was introduced during Chapter 1 with the “hold on, hold on” command. During Chapter 3, we did “monkey, monkey” which involved supporting your kid as they held on to the side, then encouraging them to move across the edge of the pool to grab hold of a duck. During Chapter 4, these have been combined with an underwater swim to create a sequence of four separate things. Holding on to the edge of the pool, the sprog then kicks off using the wall into a side swim position, then into an underwater swim, up into a “hold on” and then “monkey monkey”.
- During our first lesson in Chapter 1, the then Baby L did her first underwater swim. Every lesson since, there has been several underwater swims per lesson in different circumstances, including things like diving in from the side, release swims and glide swims. During Chapter 4, we’ve now reached a point where these underwater swims are being combined. An example being that we now pass the kids between parent and instructor with an underwater swim and “hold on”. So, I’ll ‘glide’ Toddler L across to the instructor underwater – when she comes up above the water, she’ll grab onto the instructor.
- The Bubba float has been an aid used ever since I can remember. This started out with ‘surfing’ during Chapter 2, in which we sing the Hawaii Five O theme tune whilst the kids lie on top of the float. This progressed to ‘tiger arms’ in Chapter 3, where we started getting the toddlers used to moving their arms in a swimming motion. During Chapter 4, this now includes turning the float over, so that your kid goes from being on their front on the float, to being on their back on the float, which obviously also incorporates the ‘swimming on our backs’ activity.
The above three examples hopefully make sense, but I can understand how they’d probably sounds a bit confusing out of context! Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that Chapter 4 has seen previous exercises merged together, as well as expanded to create new, more challenging ones. This means that the kids are now doing some quite complex routines with relative ease, even though six months ago that would have seemed impossible.
Despite things getting tougher for the little ones, there’s plenty of the simpler activities that are still done. This includes things like finishing each lesson with “twinkle, twinkle”, swimming after ducks / balls / flippers and using the large floating mat for “jelly on a plate” and “row your boat”. We’ve also done quite a few new, fun activities – things like using the swimming noodle as a horse and train, as well as having piggy back races, means that it’s not all been about graft.
As we’ve gone along, I’ve tried to keep a record of what we’ve done each lesson for the purpose of this post, however I’ll admit that my memory isn’t what it once was. Trying to do the exercises in the classes, then remember and write them down after has proved to be challenging. Although I didn’t manage to write down the itinerary for each of the 10 lessons, here’s my notes of what we did during the fifth lesson:
- Enter from the side of the pool by turning around and sliding in
- Intro song, including side swim and underwater swim
- Glide swim from the edge of the pool through a hoop
- Underwater swim from me to the instructor and back again (including them holding on independently)
- Horse race using swimming noodle
- Surfing on Bubba float
- Tiger arms on Bubba float
- Blowing bubbles with the flipper
- Underwater dive and release from a sitting position on the circle float, into a hold on to the edge of the pool
- Swimming on backs
- Twinkle twinkle on backs with mirror
Something I’ve really noticed during Chapter 4 is the enjoyment Toddler L is having when in the water. We’ve noticed a massive change in her generally when it comes to communication, understanding and personality over the last few months, and this has transferred into the pool. She’s always liked being in the water and had fun – if we ignore the water wobbles – but her current level of happiness really is off the scales.
She’s constantly giggling and laughing, she quacks at the ducks, she says “bye bye” and waves when a swimming aid is put away, she high fives and fist bumps with the instructor, she claps when she does something well and roars with all her might during tiger arms. Without sounding too corny, I can’t help but beam with pride – with a slight lump in my throat – when I see her as happy as she is during the lessons.
If you can’t tell, we’ve really enjoyed Chapter 4. I’m not one for overly gushing about stuff, but I really do love Water Babies. Starting swimming lessons with the sprog is one of the best things we’ve done and I’d totally recommend it to any other parent interested. Hopefully this post has given you a flavour for what we’ve done during Chapter 4 and how it has progressed from the previous Chapters. Until next time, happy swimming!
(We’ve continued our lessons with Water Babies – here’s a review of Chapter 7)
N.B. This review was written by me (Dave) and represents my honest opinion. The Chapter 4 swimming lessons were provided to me by Water Babies with the purpose of writing an honest review in exchange for the lessons.