Ever seen that viral video of the toddler that was left unattended falling into the pool and then roll onto his back and float alone for 5 minutes? It’s pretty cool, to the typical parent that doesn’t know anything about the ISR process to attaining that skill.
We are not attacking parents that have enrolled their children in ISR. We also know that there are success stories associated with the program. However, when it comes to a child learning a lifelong love for the water, rather than short-term skill, gentle repetition and fun are necessary.
Look back into your own memory for a second. What things do you remember from your childhood that you were forced to do that you learned to be afraid of or dislike, maybe up to today? Many adults would say “water” (60% of Americans, that is, according to a Gallup Poll).
All of the things that we as humans love and trust are things that we have enjoyed and tried with positive encouragement!
Here are some differences between Infant Swimming Resource swim lessons and traditional swim lessons:
- Introduction to the water. ISR immediately dunks your child in the water and turns them on their back, regardless of readiness. In traditional swim lessons, confidence is often gained first by feeling the water through the fingers and gently pouring water over the child’s head. Going underwater for the first time is scary. It’s that simple. It’s much better to gain trust from the little ones and then go under water. Before long, they love it.
- Parent involvement. ISR does not allow parents in the water, no matter the age of the child. There are plenty of testimonials from parents stating just how difficult it was to watch their baby kick and scream as an unfamiliar adult dunks them under the water repeatedly, no matter how the child is reacting. It is a very disconnected and uninvolved situation for both parents and baby. In traditional swim lessons, babies start swimming with the parent in the water. Parents often learn the techniques of the instructors to practice and ease the child that is learning a new skill. Talk about a great bonding experience! It is once they are about 3 years old that children enter a lesson without a parent.
- Foundational Skills. ISR teaches skills to save a child’s life if they fall in the pool by floating on their back and waiting. For older children, they learn “swim-float-swim” to get to a wall. Don’t get us wrong, that’s great, except for them, it stops there. Ever met a baby that learned something, then stopped doing it, and was still able to do it later on in life? Us either. This is a short-term solution to a long-term necessity. Instead, traditional swim lessons are typically longer-term and allow a slow and steady pace to learn. We like to say “slower is faster”. We start with foundational skills for the development of future strokes, like front/back floats, kicking legs, front/back glide, and blowing bubbles. That’s the stuff that sticks. Many swim schools, like here at King’s Swim Academy, we offer open swim/practice swim times to allow kids to keep working on what they have learned so they are ready for any water situation.
Some Additional Cons to ISR include:
- Infant survival rescue lessons can give a false sense of security from parent/child in and around water.
- With ISR lessons, a child might think they know how to swim and jump into water that they can’t handle such as lakes, busy pools, and rough water (which they can’t do anyway if they only did ISR.).
- Infant Swimming Resource lessons may cause your child to develop a fear or dislike of the water due to the repetitive discomfort of being dunked. ISR Instructors report having to reintroduce children to the water at older ages while dealing with a phobia of submersion.
- 10 minute ISR lessons Monday-Friday for 6-8 weeks is a difficult time commitment.
In short, our goal is for children and adults to build life-saving skills and a love for the water, which will last a lifetime. Traditional swim lessons are tried and true as it is a fun, engaging, and personable time for these little ones.
As said by Ulrika Faerch –
“We don’t put our children into the fire to learn them that it’s dangerous.
We guard them, stand beside them. We show them with our tone of voice and facial expressions that it’s hot and how to be careful and still enjoy it. And we keep guarding them. Because we know they are curious creatures of the present. Why would you water-board and almost drown a child to teach them how to become safe in the water? What do you want them to learn? What do you think they learn? How do you think it affects the trust between you?”