Do you know who is teaching your child how to swim?
We all choose extra murals for our children. We all go the extra mile to find all the proper recommendations to send them to a specific A graded class. BUT I cannot stress enough that swimming, while it’s fun, is NOT an extra mural but instead it is a life skill and a necessity. I visited many swimming schools in my area trying to find the right one. But what is the right one? Sometimes, it’s the little things like getting a treat when you’re leaving that adds that certain extra something and makes you feel like a million rand. It’s the warm and inviting upbeat attitude of staff towards you that gives you the extra value for your money. Or perhaps it’s even as simple as the bright, clean and fresh décor and smell which adds to the ambiance. For me, it was about all of it! All of it and so much more. As moms we often spend hours and hours sitting on the sidelines enjoying these small perks and comfort yet, do we know the real stuff? The important stuff! This got me to thinking about swimming schools and while it’s fun for the children and relaxing for mom, is it safe and have the schools and the instructors followed the correct procedures to teach our precious children.
Visit the prospective swimming school BEFORE enrolling your child
Have you seen your swimming school’s certificates?
Visiting the swimming school is not only about the obvious facts of health and safety, but also about making sure that all of the necessary certificates from qualified, registered and vetted teachers are visually displayed. In order for a swimming school to obtain an accreditation they need to meet all health and safety requirements and each instructor needs to be qualified. This is not an easy thing to get and therefore not easy for a mom to find for her child.
The 2 qualifications that are recognized by Swim South Africa
A SSA Learn to Swim (LTS) instructors certificate (The entry level certificate to teach children 3 years and older).
An LTS instructor needs to have the following in order to stay relevant.
- Annual CPR and First Aid (First Aid Kit included)
- Police clearance certificate and cleared to work with children,
- Registration with the affiliate (Eastern Gauteng Aquatics/Central Gauteng Aquatics/Gauteng Aquatics)
- 12 CPD (continual professional development) points each year
- Professional and public insurance which has up to 15 million rand cover
A Swim South Africa TODSWIM certificate for teaching babies between 1 and 3 years old.
An infant aquatics instructor is even more specialised than an LTS instructor. This is the only approved program for infants.
The instructor has to complete their LTS and have practiced for over a year. After this they can then write a theory exam for TODSWIM and log 20 hours in the water and then they need to pass the practical exam.
Is your Instructor accredited?
Now I’m by no means saying that Suzie down the road isn’t a great lady who is gentle and kind to your little one but is she qualified to be teaching and does she have the necessary updated training. One mom took her toddler to swimming lessons for months to a school she trusted and one awful day her toddler slipped and cut himself very badly on a step. Had this been an accredited swimming school with Swimming South Africa, every single one of the instructors would have had the necessary first aid skills to assist in this situation. Unfortunately, a stressed mom had to rush him to the closest open clinic to get help as the swimming school did not even have a first aid kit, which is yet another requirement to be an accredited school. This is unacceptable and what has spurred me to investigate my own swimming schools. (I always say “schools” as my Mini Me goes to Little Fishes Bedfordview and my Baby Mini Me goes to Baby Fishes Bedfordview. Both registered with Swimming South Africa for LTS and TODSWIM respectively).
Little Fishes Bedfordview and Baby Fishes Bedfordview are owner run swimming schools
Take more than just the cost into consideration, look at size and look at structure.
I’m as guilty as they come with this one. I searched for a drownproofing, clean and safe swimming school that was cheap.
Cheap swimming schools are the worst!
Having two kids do swimming can become a costly affair. But you pay for what you get! Yes, this does sound harsh, but it is true. An ideal group class for swimming should have no more than 4 children in the classes. When doing your visits to the swimming schools and weighing up the costs have a look for this. I know Little Fishes Bedfordview has only 2 swimmers per instructor. This gives my children the best from the instructor. Do the math… the smaller the class the more time and focus you are getting.
I was also very set on doing a drown proof course. Of course. That’s why we are all doing lessons, so we never have to experience this awful reality. But after doing much research and actually sitting in on all the lessons I realise my boys have learnt more through routine, repetition and play than I ever dreamed they would. Swimming is also about more than just “learning how to swim”. It also promotes the love and appreciation for water which gives them the potential to apply what they have learnt from swimming into other aspects of their lives.There is no better sight for a mom than watching her child happily fall into the pool and know exactly what to do after just a few lessons.
Swimming lessons are not a quick fix.
In our time at Little Fishes Bedfordview and Baby Fishes Bedfordview we have seen other little swimmers the same age progress from LTS to early stroke development. We get 2 certificates and 2 reports annually providing us with detailed feedback of what our personalised long term objective is. The instructors work with the child’s level and not their age, as well as with their physical, psychological and developmental progressions. Children don’t progress at the same time out of the water so why would they in the water?
Check that your nursery school you use for swimming has done their necessary research
You’ve done months of research when it comes to schools for your little one, so you now just trust that they’re safe especially when you tick the boxes for extra murals, whether included in the school fees or not. Listening to one of the moms talk the other day got the wheels in my brain spinning away. She knew her son was going to swimming lessons with school but when I questioned her on where she actually didn’t know. And even worse that that she didn’t know how he got there. She assumed in a safe vehicle since it was through school. Shockingly it wasn’t. A valid PDP is required and children HAVE to be in either car seats or booster seats based on height and weight. It is even best that a nursery school use a specialised company that knows the exact requirements and has the necessary insurance to transport children.
I have just signed my children up at Baby Fishes Bedfordview and Little Fishes Bedfordview again for next term. They are thriving in and out of the water and they absolutely enjoy it! And what I know is that the swimming school is spotless, smells divine, I get to enjoy a coffee (or two) and that they are safely in the hands of registered and vetted swimming instructors who are trained to teach them this crucial life skill. Do you have that peace of mind?