At the beginning of the summer Margot was afraid to put her face in the water. She wasn’t afraid OF the water, she loved to go in the pool. But, she would only do so while holding on to an adult. Usually me. And usually pulling down my bikini top in the process.
So, we enrolled her in swim classes. We looked around a bit for classes in the area. I had read a lot about Infant Self Rescue classes and had almost enrolled her in one of those classes two summers ago. Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough families signing up and cancelled the class, so that was a bust. Now, the closest ISR class is about an hour away.
With a little research and very little debate we settled on swim lessons at the Y in Nyack. The Y is less than 5 minutes away driving and is walkable from our house. And they offer the most affordable classes in town. We had heard a few mixed reviews, but we enrolled Margot in a two week intensive and decided if she wasn’t into it, we would stop the lessons and it wouldn’t be a big loss.
Now, before I start blabbing on about how much Margot loves swimming and how much she has improved, I’d like to talk about the problems with the class first. The biggest problem we have with these lessons is that they schedule one lesson to end at the same time that the next lesson begins. So, on the half hour it’s a mad dash to get one set of children out of the pool and the next set of children in to the pool. This also means that we do not get any face time at all with Margot’s swim instructors. Which is a problem only because I’d appreciate a little snippet like “She is really improving at x, maybe you can practice y with her a little bit.” Or just, “Your child is a special, special snowflake and I have never had a student as lovely or as intelligent as her. You have clearly done a stellar job at parenting this unique creature!” This also leads into my other big complaint. I don’t know her teachers’ names. AND! The teachers kept changing from day to day. So, one teacher would see Margot succeed at something and then the next day a new teacher would be there and then would start from square one, not knowing that Margot had already mastered a certain skill.
Those are my complaints. And they are not insignificant, except that they kind of are because this past week Margot swam across a pool by herself. She LOVES swim class. And she LOVES swimming. And she has improved so dramatically we are constantly amazed by her skills. She no longer clings to us in the pool and, in fact, if we try to hold her she scolds us and asks to be left to her own devices.
After her first class was a success, we signed her up for the next two week session, so that she was in swim class 5 days a week for an entire month. It made it really hard for us to do anything else since we had to be at the pool everyday by 3pm for an entire month, but she never once said she was tired of going and so, we went. Now she is in swim class once a week and at least three times between classes she asks “is it a swim class day today?”
We really could not be more thrilled and we intend to keep up with lessons as long as she keeps wanting to do them. We especially want her to continue lessons through the colder months so that next summer she is ready and raring to go. Since Todd’s parents have an in-ground pool I have been so anxious for Margot to learn how to swim. She is never out there unattended, but it’s a skill that I have really been nervous about her acquiring. Todd and I both tried to teach her, but she would get frustrated with us (and, admittedly, we with her) when we asked her to do things. We realized that this was something that we couldn’t teach Margot on our own. So, we found someone (or in the case of the Y, multiple someones) to teach her instead.
Now maybe you can see how this all ties in with unschooling. We are dedicated to unschooling. I believe now more than ever that we made the best choice for our child when we chose unschooling. Seeing how well Margot responded to a teacher in a small class with me nowhere in sight (the adults watch the children on a CCTV in the waiting room) showed me that this is a model that works for Margot. It did not for a moment make me think “oh, crap, maybe I should enroll her in school after all.” Being dedicated to unschooling does not mean that we are anti-schooling. I think (some) schools are wonderful and I am very grateful that they are available if my child ever wants to make use of them. I am grateful, also, that there are so many opportunities for Margot to learn skills from people who are not me. I intend to accompany Margot for as much of her educational journey as is appropriate for us both, but I have no intention of being her only teacher along the way. We are so thrilled that Margot has had so much success in swim class, and maybe someday she will break her Daddy’s backstroke record!!