I’ve wanted to sign up for Mommy and Me swim classes for a while, but I’ve put it off because I wasn’t sure my child was ready (or perhaps, I wasn’t sure I was ready for my child to start swimming). My husband gave me a gift certificate at a local swim school for Christmas. I was so excited and so nervous!
Our daughter recently turned two. She’s starting to play more in the bathtub and often scares me with how comfortable she is in water. I have no idea how to teach her to hold her breath or to make sure she actually does it. After all, toddler whims are hard to predict and control.
Last week, we went to sign up for our classes in person. The school offers a variety of classes, and even has Mommy and Me classes for her age group several times a week. (Wow!)
With scheduling out of the way, the school representative took us on a tour and told me a little more of what to expect. A large glass wall separates the waiting area and the pool, so parents can watch the lessons and siblings can have some free range to play with various toys.
With bright colors, character animals, and a blow dry area where kids sit on surf boards, the whole place portrays a playful, fun vibe. Everything looked clean and new, plus the pool had a large instructor to child ration. At that time, there were more instructors than kids in the pool. Moreover, the instructors were all attentive to the children, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
With our class scheduled and a facility tour, I felt a lot less apprehensive about our upcoming class. Now, I was looking forward to it! We would be in a small group with no more than six kids. Most importantly, my tot would learn how to maneuver in water, and I would feel more confident as I work with her to learn water safety.
Fast forward a few days, and it was time for our first class. I wrestled my tot into her bathing suit, packed a bag of towels and extra clothes, and hustled us into the car.
Our First Swim Class
She was whinny. Understandable since we’d been running around for several days, but she had also talked a lot about our visit to the pool and swimming over the past few days, so I crossed my fingers that she’d get excited once we got there.
And she did! I checked us in while she ran around saying hello to every child in her vicinity and checked on the fish tanks. We’d miraculously arrived early, so I gave her a few minutes to do what she wanted before corralling her into a changing room to put on her swim diaper.
When we were called in for class, she did a great job of holding my hand and walking with me between her and the pool. She excitedly followed me down the steps and into the warm, 4 ft pool. We took our place next to the other moms and kids on the ledge (they have a bench that runs along the side of the pool thats about 1ft deep). Four other mommy and me couples joined us that morning. We were the only newbies, but everyone seemed welcoming.
Class stared with a group song, and the instructor welcomed each kid with an Elmo puppet. Most of the kids giggled. My kid doesn’t giggle with anything new, so she just stared. Great, I thought! She doesn’t hate it and is intrigued.
Next, the kiddos sat on our lap and practiced kicking their feet. I have to give my little one credit because throughout the class, she did a great job of watching and mirroring what the other kids were doing. Then, moms held the kids on our shoulder (belly down), and had them kick around the pool to get some floating toys.
Then, we did the same thing with arms. She practiced moving her arms on my lap, then I held her belly as she moved her arms and legs to grab floating toys. At this point, there was an actual smile! From a serious kid like my little one, this was high praise!
Overall, the class was packed with learning exercises. I’m impressed we crammed that much into a 30 minute toddler class!
We dumped water on their heads to get them used to being submerged (which my little one bore stoically as she hates getting water dumped on her head when we wash her hair). One girl was even excited dumping water on her own head. I dared to dream that my little one would be comfortable enough in water to do that!
One exercise I really liked taught kids how to crawl out of the pool if they were to fall in. We took them to the wall and had them crawl out. I was impressed at how well my tot did climbing out of the pool. The kids sat on the ledge, facing us with their legs in the water. We sang a version of Humpty Dumpty and rocked them into the pool. Then, we showed them how to turn and craw back out. Wow! What a fun way to teach this basic (and very relevant) water survival skill!
We also practiced dips, where moms would take their kids and dip them under the water. Because it was our first class, my tot and I did a dry dip as I’m not confident in her ability to hold her breath. But the other kiddos who had been to this class before did a full dip (excitedly).
The instructor took the time to give me a few pointers on how we can practice holding our breath.
- Have her hum or make the letter M noise. When she’s going “mmmmm,” she can’t breathe in. My little one eagerly hummed throughout the exercise.
- Tell her to do chipmunk cheeks. Take a breath and puff our your cheeks as you hold your breath.
- Practice blowing bubbles in the bathtub. If she’s blowing bubbles, she can’t breathe in.
We didn’t have a chance to really work on all of these techniques in class, as it was all rather fast paced. But the school offers a variety of family swims that we may utilize to practice and show Dad everything she’s learning.
Overall, the class gave me a lot of tips and techniques to practice with my toddler. My little one really listened and worked through each exercise. I was impressed by her focus and how well she paid attention given the newness and distractions. Moreover, I feel confident in my ability to take her in a pool and work with her even at such a young age.
Over the past couple of days, my tot has showed off her new skills to Dad and grandparents. She kicks her legs, moves her arms, and points to her swimsuit. It’s clear that she enjoyed swimming, and we’re looking forward to our next class!
We have three more classes, and I’m excited to see how we do. I still don’t know that we”ll be ready to fully submerge her in the water, but I’m grateful for the life-saving and water safety skills she’s learning! Stay tuned on my blog to see more updates on our Mommy and Me swimming experience!