Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Stock Sunday #4 - It's not all fun and games

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Maya coming, Itai going
Click to enlarge all photos
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... at the swimming pool that is.
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Both of my kids are taking swimming lessons this year - three times a week for four weeks, more if they need it.

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Itai probably won't need extra sessions, he already knows how to swim and is just working on technique and dabbling in the backstroke.
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Maya, who never had lessons before this year, is taking things a bit more slowly (now there's an understatement). While she loves (loves!) the water and jumps in like a regular little fish, putting everything she's learning together in a way that will keep her head above water is proving to be a bit more challenging. Ahem.

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Unlike in the US, where children are first taught the crawl, beginning swimmers here in Israel are taught the breaststroke first (since it's a "survival" stroke, rather than a "sport" stroke, according to their teacher), which drives me utterly crazy since it seems to me like a much harder stroke to teach a young child (and is also why many swimming teachers here won't take children younger than six). It certainly is harder for Maya, who at age 5 1/2 has been propelling herself around a pool with a swim ring just fine for years now thankyouverymuch - she's now got the idea of the frog kick down pat but she's working so hard on trying to really open up the kick and then close her feet quickly (forgive the awkward construction, I'm trying hard to avoid saying "open her legs wide and then slam them together" since that sounds unseemly for a five year old, but I'm failing miserably at finding an equally descriptive alternative) that she doesn't have any power behind her stroke. This means that she's constantly being pushed against the side of the pool without any room to do those wide kicks and the problem perpetuates itself. We're working on it. She's down to one little floatie now, but when the teacher tried to remove that one she basically sunk like a stone, her kicks insufficient to keep her head above water.
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Maya was also having trouble focusing in the (quite small) group lessons and the teacher wasn't sure she should stay, but she was so happy to be in the "big kid swimming lessons" that I really didn't want to pull her out, so I got him to agree to have me "shadow" her from the side of the pool to keep her on track. With me right next to her she's at least staying on plan, if not succeeding wildly at powering through the water (that's another one of those understatements). Now personally I don't care if she doesn't learn to swim without floaties by the end of the session and I'm certainly not looking for any Olympic records here, but I do care very much that she continues to enjoy both the lessons and being in the water in general and as long as that's the case it's all good. She'll learn at her own pace, if not this year then next. Anything beyond that is gravy, though given my choice I would prefer for her to realize that having your head sink below the water is not ideal and is in fact a damn good time to start kicking for the surface.
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So if you've been wondering why nearly all of my Summer Stock photos have been water-related, it's because that's pretty much been our theme so far this summer - all water, all the time. Well that and redoing Maya's room, but that's still a work-in-progress so you'll have to wait another week or two for those photos.
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What's on your summertime agenda this week? Sign the linkie and let us know, and as always, thanks for playing along here at Summer Stock. This project wouldn't be nearly as much fun without all of you.
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28 comments:

Thom said...

Hmmm very odd that they teach that stroke first. But it sounds as if Maya will make it through this especially with Mama right there. She's a real go getter it seems like and thanks for the link back to focusing. I enjoyed the read. Good for Itai as well...Swimming is so much fun. Great photos and excellent post :) Aloha

ellievellie said...

Brave kids! Mine are like barbarians in the pool. Little one is too chicken to give up his floats - the big one is diving like a bag of potatoes.

judi said...

She sound like a typical 5&1/2 yr old! You have a great philosophy, as long as she is having fun and has good self esteem then ok. Those are the most important things for kids that age to have! judi

Mojo said...

Summer=water. It's a simple equation really. As for how and how fast Maya learns the techniques, Mme Montesorri would be positively beaming at your approach. And in her case, I can't think of a better way to go.

I never really mastered the frog kick either. Learning to not drown was pretty much my only priority. And I didn't learn to swim until I was eight. (If you think it'll help, you can tell her I told you that.) Once I figured out that I was a lot less likely to drown if I kept my cool, everything was fine.

Leora said...

We ended up bribing our older boys with private swimming lessons when they were old enough to concentrate on learning, and I found an excellent teacher. It really paid off for my eldest, who hates camp and is now an excellent swimmer from that one summer.

So I suspect my daughter, who hates the swimming lessons, will probably need the private lessons at some point to learn. I love swimming; it's always great fun to swim with the family on vacation.

Summer really hasn't begun here. Wet and rainy today. One more week of school for my two younger ones.

Melli said...

It sounds like you have the right idea already with just letting her "do it" and have FUN - and so what if she doesn't learn this year!? No biggy! Of course, when the session is over, you can always teach her the crawl on your own. My oldest son took one session of swim lessons - but I taught the other 3 how to swim... well, I should say the other 2! Derek chose not to learn to swim until he was about 12... and then he taught himself! He is not a strong swimmer - but he can stay above water!

Jill said...

Oh I highly believe in swim lessons! Such a great skill for the little ones...

We took swim lessons at Ori Sela's Water World for 2 years - both group and private. If you ever decide you don't like where you are - I highly recommend them. My now 4 year old can swim like a rock star.

Phyllis Sommer said...

it was our first really wonderful warm day today and guess what - the power was out at the pool club. but i just got a message that they finally got power and so tomorrow - the pool!
i'm so excited.
unfortunately, we haven't quite gotten aroudn to formal lessons. so soon...we will.

good for maya for sticking it out!

Julia Smith said...

Water, water all the time is a great subject for summer, if you ask me. I'm glad you're sticking close to Maya and helping her succeed. It will make all the hurdles to come much less daunting when she has a history of getting somewhere to look back on.

kaye said...

It seems I spent years taking kids to swimming lessons :) how are the knees?

Carletta said...

I never learned to swim - no one had patience to teach me. I was frightened of the water. Still am. With that said I think you're right on with letting it be fun for her and letting her learn on her own time.
Summer and water - it works. Keep em' coming!
Yes, how are the knees?

Robin said...

My knees are fine now, thanks for asking. I think it must have been the backwards motion on the elliptical machine. I won't be trying that again in a hurry!

ilanadavita said...

In France childrne are taught breakstroke first too.
Lovely photos.

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Bim said...

Yeah - I remember finding breast stroke hard to learn. Hope she'll get there without too much frustration.

hip chick said...

I remember swimming lesson with my kids. It was in an outdoor pool and my oldest was always freezing.

Jessica The Rock Chick said...

Oh, I remember swimming lessons and the little floatie boards! I'm an excellent floater and not a very strong swimmer, but my kids are all little fishies in the water.

Mama Zen said...

Great pictures! Nothing says summer like little ones in the pool!

This Eclectic Life said...

Your summer has been a busy one! Every time I see your water pictures I want to sneak into my neighbor's pool.
My kids took survival swimming lessons as infants. If you think it's hard watching Maya, consider having your six month old son ripped from your hands and pushed under water to make him swim to the top!

Daryl said...

Ah swimming, I learned when I was about Maya's age but they didnt have those arm thingies then, I used a 'tube' and then an aunt who was visiting taught me the breast stroke tho I learned, I never learned to do it with my face in the water .. dont ask how foolish I look but water on my face .. no can do

Happy Father's Day and I hope the weekend was wonderful

Dianne said...

I could not get my act together this week to participate but I hope to visit everyone

My son learned to swim at 6 in day camp and was like a fish until football took over at 12 - he forgot everything

he was recently "saved" at the lake by a 9 year old!! Oy! ;)

he swears he's going to learn again before the baby gets here

Jay said...

When I had swimming lessons I sat on the side of the pool and refused to get in until I was sure I knew what to do. Once I jumped in I swam like a fish.

I swear I'm gonna play sometime. I need to get out and get a bunch of pics so I'll be ahead and will start playing then. Hopefully next Sunday. ;-)

Milk Mama said...

Oh my goodness! This brings back good memories! I thought I had commented here, but I guess I didn't! So I'm coming back!!! Thanks for inviting me! :D

RivkA with a capital A said...

FWIW, I teach crawl first!

Glennis said...

My Dad taught me to swim as a very young girl, and I have enjoyed swimming ever since.
I like the goggle eyes peeking over the water.

bermudabluez said...

It's great that you all are learning to swim!! Not enough people teach their kids....or send them to lessons!! It's a skill that just might come in handy some day! Hope you had a nice weekend!!

Ashi and Rami's Ima said...

Oooh that pool looks so cool and blue and fabulous! Thanks for hosting. :)

maryt/theteach said...

Oh Robin, Robin, so sorry I was distracted yesterday (my grand-nephew visited for Father's Day) I'll have mine up in a minute...(9:00 AM EST)