I have heard that Miss Jean is very strict is that true? Yes, is the answer, strict, sweet and loving. I’m of the mindset, that positive language and no rhetorical questions make learning to swim easier. No-nonsense, with the patience of a saint being a single mother of four children. Two of my children had special needs. That experience has created my style of teaching. My family jokes that I speak three languages Body, Baby, and English. Teaching swimming for over thirty years, crying lets everyone know you are still alive. Breathing with your face above the water, is only for backstroke and breaststroke. Finding out how the students tick, is my goal. Flipping the language and talking about being brave is part of the lessons.
I work to progress the five basic skills that are necessary to survive.
1. Holding on to the wall “Monkey walking”, or “Crab walking “are excellent ways to teach kids the idea that they can get to the stairs or climb out at the wall.
2. After wall walking, we work on climbing out of the pool at the wall. Elbow, Elbow tummy, knee are the instructions. Once they climb out they sit down with their feet in the water.
3. I tell them we are going to sit dive and instruct students to put their tummy on their legs and fall in with arms pointing to the bottom.
4. Then either put their feet on the bottom and bounce back to the wall or take a breath and swim back to the wall. Bouncing off the bottom to the wall is another skill we use a lot in my beginners class.
5. Last but not least, back floating /backstroke is the cornerstone of survival for non-swimmers. Also, in my opinion, the toughest skill to teach anyone. The feeling of water in someone ears is very uncomfortable along with laying flat on top of the water. That’s why I teach backstroke and not back float first. Many first classes end with a little crying, but my motto is you learn faster when you cry. They don’t know what to do when you give them permission to cry. Doing something scary for the student and parent is a fine line. I have no problem with parents leaving the lesson for 5 minutes, so student can focus on the lesson, (not getting out of the lesson). Every student is different and learns in their own way, I always find a way. Now I’m mentoring great swim instructors who have talent and knowledge,some are grandma’s like me, college swimmers,with years of experience. All swimming for life.
Grateful everyday to do what I love.