Earlier this year, during the spring, neither of my kids (5 years old) knew how to swim without a lifejacket. Last year, my daughter wouldn’t even swim with a lifejacket. Before the subject of swimming came up I would hold her on my hip in the pool. Now, standing on the edge with her pink vest strapped tight to her little body, she wouldn’t get in. Although I was eager for her to try, I supported her decision to wait until she felt safe and ready.
As soon as the heater went on in the pool she began telling me how this year she was going to get in and swim with her lifejacket on. Her brother had been swimming with his last year and so he made himself a goal to swim with it off this year.
The day came first when my son stripped of the jacket and carefully, on tip toes, tredged through the water with a hand braced to reach for the edge. If anyone else wanted to get in he got right out. His concern was for those ripples that would splash into his face unwelcomed.
As time went on both kids had the idea that they would practice holding their breath underwater. They knew this was a skill necessary to swimming comfortably and they were ready to move forward.
My son grew more confident being in the pool without his lifejacket and after a while of swimming with hers on, my daughter proclaimed her new goal was to swim with it off. In the same manner she had seen her brother explore, she tip toed around the edge of the pool, chin barely above water.
Once both kids mastered being comfortable with their body in the water free of the lifejacket, they started to kick up their feet a paddle their arms. After being unsuccessful for days it was almost miraculous when swimming happened.
With summer not yet over, these two self-lead learners are racing around the pool with their older cousins, laughing and loving their new skill – and welcoming the feel of water splashed on their faces.
Through observation of others, my kids saw what was possible and set their own declarations for learning. With no formal instruction but a strong community of support and swimmers, both kids accomplished their goals.