WATER ADJUSTMENT AND CONDITIONING
At the beginning of each class we open with a Welcome songs. These songs are a great way to great each student. Use watering cans, cups and / or noodle fountains along with the song to engage students while conditioning. Success with conditioning will lead to success with submerging.
BREATH CONTROL AND SUBMERGING
WHY – Instructors need to gauge the comfort level of the child and the caregiver prior to submersion and build trust throughout the session. If the instructor instills confidence in the caregiver, it will continue to the child. Begin early in the session and if the child or caregiver is having a difficult time use props, songs or modeling of other children to shape the desired behavior.
How Cue with 1-2-3. This prepares the child for the activity. Elevate them slightly and then submerge them into the water having them glide to their caregiver. The change in the temperature from the elevation enhances the natural reflex to inhale and close their airway to prepare for submersion.
BUOYANCY AND BALANCE
Why- We want the child to be comfortable back floating so we try to start activities from the very first lesson for all ages.
How – One position is a cheek to cheek where the child is resting on the caregiver’s shoulder and their ears are in the water. Once they are comfortable in this position and have found some buoyancy they can move to a more advanced position of floating on the water while the caregiver supports the child’s shoulders and head. The caregiver can move in a circular motion to sooth/comfort the child and songs are always welcome. Mirrors or toys provide a great distraction and are always helpful for the child to look up if they are having a difficult time keeping their head down.
WHY – To introduce the safety skill of falling in and returning to the wall.
HOW –Always encourage the caregiver to bring the child to the wall and have them climb out using the “Elbow, Elbow, Belly and Knee” prompts. Then the child sits on the side of the pool while the caregiver stands to the side and holds them on the belly and the back.
For Fishies in the Ocean, The child is cued with the Fishies in the Ocean song and prompted to fall or jump in on three! Encourage parents to use the child’s name when jumping in so they understand that they are never allowed to go into the water until an adult cues them.
For Humpty Dumpty, The caregiver stands to the side while the child falls in and is encouraged to turn around right away back to the wall and climb out. Even if the child is too young and cannot hold on to the wall or pull itself out of the pool, they can start to associate going into the water and turning around to find the wall.
Finally you can add the skill of Falling or Jumping in then rolling to the back. This activity is similar to Fishies in the Ocean, however the child falls or jumps off the wall and then the caregiver assist them with rolling to their backs then floating. This is a very important safety skill because if the child can learn to float on their back after falling in the water, they can wait until help arrives