On weekends Blue Fin takes the opportunity to expand one side of the pool, turning it into a wonderful open space where we run our Pre-School Aquatics lessons.
With children aged from 6 months to four years old, these classes are the first steps on a young swimmer’s journey! Not just lessons, these classes are a great (and frankly adorable) time for parents to bond with their children. We can’t overstate just how much it warms our hearts to see happy and laughing children in the water with their equally happy parents.
Our pre-school program is built on the philosophy that confidence in the water is key to not only a swimmer’s development, but also to a child’s enjoyment of water and swimming in all its forms. We want our students to not only be good swimmers, but also those who will be able to enjoy all fun and excitement the water has to offer! Whether in lessons with us, or at the beach with friends and family, children will enjoy their swimming more, and progress faster, if they are confident and comfortable in the water.
On a more practical side, getting children in the water as early as possible has crucial real-life applications. Accidental drowning remains one of the leading causes of death in children under the age of five in this country. Last year, twenty-six toddlers drowned in Australia, with just under fifty non-fatal hospital admissions. Though one can never assume that children will be ‘water-safe’, and must always be vigilant any time a child is in the water, Pre-School Aquatics lessons can provide children with their first water safety skills.
On the positive side, swimming lessons provide a fantastic and fun environment for young children to interact with parents and with other children of their age. Our weekend classes are filled with happy children and their parents, singing and playing together, smiles beaming from big and little faces alike.
A 2012 study by Griffith University showed that children who participate in early years swimming “achieve a wide range of skills earlier than the normal population,” including physical development, visual-motor skills, and oral expression. We feel proud that we can help our students’ development away from the pool as well as in the pool.
At Blue Fin, our Pre-School Aquatics program is based on the ‘Belonging, Being & Becoming’ Early Years Learning Framework, which underpins all early learning education programs.
Three fundamental goals direct everything we do in our Pre-School Program:
Water familiarization is the most important element of our program. Water familiarization includes not only helping children feel comfortable in the water, but also aims to teach them a healthy respect for the water and an understanding of how to safely interact with it. Also as important, and something often overlooked by adults, water familiarization helps children to understand the different ways their body moves and operates in the water.
The second of the major goals of our program is to prepare our swimmers for the Learn-to-Swim program. By beginning the teaching of the basic building blocks of swimming, such as head position and correct kicking action, we aim to provide our little ones with the fundamental techniques that will serve them throughout their swimming development.
Swimming lessons a wonderful and fun experience, and offer a great environ
ment to bond with your child as well as one which enables important socialization opportunities with children their own age. As part of the
‘Being’ element of the Early Years Learning Framework, it is important that we do not take this time for granted. Alongside the more serious elements of our program we hope to always have children and their parents leaving each lesson with a smile.
What are we Working Towards?
At Blue Fin we understand that children, especially at a young age, develop at very different rates. Because of this we want to maintain the fun and stress-free environment of our Pre-School lessons. As such there is no formal assessment process within our Pre-School program. We do not set the children a set of ‘tick-the-box’ goals upon which we judge them. It is crucial that swimming retains its element of fun, and putting undue pressure on such young children to achieve against a set of external goals misses the point of the lessons and would only hamper their development.
Because of the speed at which children grow in the first few years of their life, our program is divided into age groups. We run three age groups in our program: 12-24, 2-3 years old, and 3 to 4 years old. These groups allows us to appropriately structure our program, as well as allowing class teachers to better tailor lessons to the students within it.
Our teachers have a large ‘pool’ of activities from which they draw from each week. In order to keep lessons fresh these activities will change from week to week, while maintaining enough familiarity for both children and those in the water with them to confidently join in.
Along with the usual activities we have a set of mandatory activities that are suited to the particular aims of each age group. These activities develop in complexity as the term progresses, so that learning is built upon and skills are allowed to grow and solidify.
During our pre-school aquatics classes children are supported to become happy, confident and capable learners. Through games, songs, turn taking, socialisation, movements, balance and a variety of technical activities they are building the foundations of water safety and swimming skills, along with a respect for, and we hope a love of the water.