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Latest publication by 1st Swim School Director – Phil Geary

April 17, 2015

Baby class 7

Baby Teaching – up to 6 months


The privilege of teaching baby and pre-school class has always been a constant joy, as anyone who teaches this particular age group will appreciate; there is something very special and magical when it comes to teaching the tiniest members of the swim school.

Being lucky to hire a super pool with a constant temperature of 33o it is possible, for me, to start little ones as soon as parents are ready to come along and what a treat it is to watch the rapid growth in terms of the baby’s physical and cognitive development and the growth in confidence of the parents.

Being an STA tutor of the Baby and Pre-School Award I am often asked, by candidates, about planning lessons for these early months and what are suitable practices.  This is a period of rapid growth for babies and the ‘windows’ of development are vast eg.  in my group of twelve week olds one little baby has great muscle tone in his neck and can cope with many more practices than his little friend who was a diddy 5lbs at birth and does not have the same head control as yet.

So teaching by what you see and ensuring that the practice suits the size and development of the child and, not forgetting, the confidence of the parent to carry out the particular practice.

Suitable Practices

Much has been documented about the importance of bonding and the need for babies of this age to be close to and touched by those who care for them.

Practices that promote eye contact such as cradle holds and back floating, particularly before the righting reflex and rolling over set in.  Parents are always fascinated by the little reflexive movements that these little ones make when floating on their backs and are always delighted to hear that these are a normal path to the development of thinking movements.  Active back floating often prompts the first roll over, way before this happens on land.

For babies not quite sitting independently but who have good head control, the seat hold is a popular practice with my parents.  By ensuring that the parents remain low in the water whilst supporting their baby under the seat, the magical properties of water will allow the baby to sit independently – great for strengthening the spine and for little group games and rhymes such as whooshing, gentle bouncing, egg and spoon races.

Using bright coloured toys, particularly for the rising 6 month olds, to encourage movement and reaching on the front.

Gentle Submersion practices

This is a great age to start the fun and enjoyment that can be had underwater (particularly if Mum and Dad go under as well) but always remembering to teach with mindfulness of each individual parent and baby’s needs.

Starting slowly, using cues and water preparation, ensuring that each parent learns to ‘read’ their little ones readiness to go under.  Small little journeys to start but always respecting the wishes of the baby and supporting the parent through times when baby rejects submersion.

Floating and Swimming with Parent

A favourite activity in my classes that promotes those vital aspects of bonding and touch.  A nice relaxing exercise to finish off a lesson.  Using woggles to assist those parents who are reluctant or not confident enough to lie back unsupported.

Published in Swim Biz ezine – Swimming Teachers Association April 2015

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