Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Soapboxing--Swimming lessons

Again folks, this is a soapbox, so please click away if don't like this subject. I haven't soapboxed for a while, so hopefully, there won't be too many complaints.

Every summer, we buy a summer membership to our local rec center. It is very close to our house and they have great tennis and swim lessons.

Like many rec centers in the area, this rec center provides "Kids Camps" for children starting at the age of three where they have activities for the kids in the morning and then they go directly to swim lessons, where after the swim lessons, the parents pick their kids up.

These kids are young, ages 3-5 and often this is their first exposure to swim lessons and in many cases, it appears this is their first exposure to a swimming pool. Without fail, there is usually at least one child but often several more, who refuse to get into the water for swimming lessons. The kids are dropped off at the pool by the Kids Camp employees who leave the kids in the hands of the swim instructors. The swim instructors, who are excellent teachers, are then left to deal with crying, screaming kids who refuse to get into the water, while at the same time, trying to teach swim lessons to the other children. Parents are no where in sight. The Kids Camp directors are no where in sight, so it is often left to the life guards or other swim personal who are not in the water to look after these kids.

I do have issues with parents who drop their kids off at Kid camps for the summer (instead of taking care of them at home) but this is not about that issue per se. If you want to have someone watch your kids for a few hours a day during the summer, fine but to not even show up to make sure your child is fine in the water for their swim lessons is unconscionable. These darling little kids are scared. Many of them are just not ready to learn how to swim. (I had a very reluctant swimmer, who finally at age 6 felt he could handle it. Even with that, I had to stand on one end of the pool and whisper encouragement to him that he could do it when he made it to my end. He is now a great swimmer.) Many of them would do fine, if they knew their parents were there reassuring them that everything would be fine. But to drop your child off in the AM and come back at noon without even a look earlier to make sure everything is OK in the water is unacceptable.

Why am I writing about this today? Because today, I observed a cute little red headed boy, who couldn't have been more than four years old, who has refused to go in the water for the last two days. I watched as he started opening the swim employee's lockers to see what was in them to then be chastised by the teenage life guard on duty. He sat on the side of the pool, with his backpack on, waiting for someone to pick him up. Occasionally, an employee would go over and ask if he wanted to get in the water and he would say no. I sat there and wondered, "Where is this child's mother? Does she know this is going on? Is she going to yell at the teenage swim instructors when she discovers he can't swim? Will she discover he can't swim? Does he go from here to another day care? He looks tired. Will he get a nap today? Did anyone put sunscreen on him before he came outside? I honestly was on edge the whole time until end of swimming lessons and I saw him stand up and go over with the other kids while they waited for their parents to come.

Come on folks, be parents. Don't expect teenaged paid employees to do it for you.

Anyway, that is my soapbox. I need to go and take my kids grocery shopping.


Carrie said...

Bravo Janice!

Marie said...

Reading about that little boy made me so sad :( He was probably so lonely. I would definitely be there to watch Jack if he was in swim lessons.

michelle said...

Swimming lessons are a touching subject with me too, we had a bad experience with my oldest that took three years to get over. I am definitely in favor of parental attendace!

Paige said...

Poor little guy. My kids actually did better with swimming lessons when I DIDN't stay, but I was almost always there the whole time anyway. This year I just got a pass to the rec center so we'll swim a lot, instead of swimming lessons. John HATES swimming lessons, but loves playing in the pool. I figure eventually he'll get the whole swimming part, too.