This summer, I taught eight preschool sessions along with two adult sessions. Adult swim classes are pretty straight forward. Adults tell you exactly what they want to accomplish and often have a pretty good idea about what they are doing wrong, but may not know how to fix it. Preschool classes are a bit trickier.
So do you think I’ve seen a class that looks like the one here? Okay, I may have slightly exaggerated but this is pretty much how it feels when one kid cries on the first day. My water safety instructor, a seasoned lifeguard, refers to preschoolers as “criers, try-ers and doers” and that is a fair description of what happens in every preschool class. A small number will cry the first day or two, a large percentage will try everything but may not grasp the skill, and the others just do the skill or make enough attempts that they can eventually do it. The criers often graduate to try-ers and then on to doers. This is what swim instructors live for: the happy faces of children who have mastered skills and are now confident in the water. (Insert cartoon balloon here: “High five buddy!”) Truth is, we love the water so much, and we want others to love it too.
The last day picture is not exaggerated. Arnold is asking, “Do we swim with forks or spoons?” while each child has a turn swimming with Jonathan. By the end of the preschool lessons, kids are usually pretty happy. Some, I am told, even cry when the swim lessons are over. They’ve gone from criers to try-ers and doers and now criers again. I guess you could say they’ve come full-circle.