The Importance of Trust in Childhood Education

Hello Floaties Family! Happy New Year to you all! This is Miss Michele, a fellow swim instructor at both our Eastlake and Poway locations for over three years. I am so excited to begin 2022 with my first ever blog post! I can’t wait to share these monthly discussions on several different topics that all fall under the same umbrella of learning how to swim. 

January’s topic is The Importance of Trust in Childhood Education. Trust is the gateway to creating an organic and safe learning environment to new swimmers of all ages and paths of life. It paves the journey to how your child will absorb every step in their learn-to-swim journey. Such an intense and useful skill can definitely be intimidating to anyone at any age. So, trust needs to be the starting block to building and constructing your swimming abilities.

Think of trust as the “spine” or “backbone” of your child’s swim lessons. At Floaties, trust and rapport is the very first stage of our progression line. As with any child or adult, learning how to swim is a lifesaving skill. With the right guidance and teachings, even the most nervous individual can learn how to swim.

As convenient as it would be, we were not born with gills or any other magical way to breathe while submerged. Therefore, we must rely on and master proper air conservation, body position and body movement to propel ourselves through the water in a safe and efficient way.

Now, the building blocks of trust can be approached differently depending on the child. For example, if I have a new swimmer in my class that is extremely terrified of the water and refuses to even get their feet wet on the first day, then I may be spending the majority of the lesson talking poolside with them and giving them a toy to play with. This looks different from another child that is fearless of the water and can’t wait to get in. In this case, I would focus on safety exercises to make sure they are trying new skills with safety in mind.

It’s important to note that for a nervous swimmer, it’s not just physically being in the water that can be overwhelming or triggering. With so many people, sounds and activity going on around them, it can be overstimulating, overwhelming and sometimes even frightening to them.

How exactly is trust built in this sense? How do we get a nervous swimmer to eventually swim from one side of the pool to the other if they are nervous to even enter the water? With my “soft touch” teaching style, I personally like to humanize the situation. Meaning I like to make a connection with every student of mine. I do this by striking up a conversation and trying to get them to a neutral mindset. 

If time passes and they are still hesitant, demonstrations and small achievements can be your “bread and butter” to provide comfortability and confidence. Small victories like blowing bubbles, trickling water on their head, and even dipping their face in the water should be encouraged as much as possible because without those little steps, the big steps are harder to master. Eventually, even the most nervous swimmer will realize that it’s okay to get water in our face, go under water, dive for toys, etc. The right approach will aid in building trust as well as confidence.

Another useful tool to keep in mind with building trust and easing the butterflies is repetition. Repeating the same steps during a child’s turn can dramatically decrease the anxiety while also increasing their trust with you.

Lastly, when trust is developed, so is confidence. When a new swimmer masters a new swimming skill, it’s amazing to see their confidence level rise. Next month, we will be diving even further into how swimming builds confidence in young children.

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