We often get asked how parents can support their child moving up from Starfish to Ducklings. This is a huge change in the style and content of the lessons, as parents will now be watching from the poolside rather than taking part in the water.
This does cause some children some concerns and worries. Most children move up from starfish to Ducklings around 2 ½ to 3 years old. This all depend son the child's ability, confidence and cognitive understanding.
The first thing I will say to parents is to talk to the teacher, find out how close they are to moving up. This can be looked at via our home portal system, that all our swimmers have access to. See your booking confirmation for further details.
Most children who move up are fine for the first few weeks this is due to it being new and exciting. However over a period of 3 weeks, this can turn it to the child being unhappy or even crying. The biggest question we get asked is, what should we do if they cry?
There is a very simple answer, give them support and reassurance that they are safe and that they are enjoying the lesson. However try not to get overly involved in the lesson. Try if you can to sit, watch and reassure from a distance. If the child gets out of the pool, give them a kiss, say well done and bring them back to sit down to go back into the water for their swim. Trust me, I know how hard this can be to watch but if you take them out of the pool or even take them to get changed it instils in them a negative about the swimming pool and can take them a lot longer to regain their confidence without the parent in the water.
A few coping ideas, If you are really worried that things may not go well:
As you talk about it refer to the new class as the big girl/boy class, these instils in them that they are growing up (even if you are not ready) and as a result are moving up
Find out the teacher's name, so you can talk about who their new teacher will be. Hopefully they will of met them.
Bring their favorite toy to watch them now they are in the big girl/boy group.
Try to keep the routine as much of the same as you can, so if dad always brings them, try to keep it the same. I know it is tempting to bring the family to watch for their first time in the pool on their own. But try to leave this, let them settle into their new class.
Try not to have a reward at the end of the lessons. We want them to enjoy the water, not have to endure the water to get the prize at the end.
Talk to their teacher and ask for their advice and talk about the positives, how well they have swam, how the teacher is so impressed with them.
Don't be worried on their first week to come and watch the lessons, get them changed and sit them on poolside to watch. If they then chose to get in, this is brilliant. Don't force them into the water, let them watch and make their own choices. However once they are in, try to encourage them to stay in the water.
I hope this helps to answer some of the questions that you have and if you want to talk more or get a little more information, please get in contact with us.