Sink or Swim Learning?
Teaching is a journey. The longer I teach, the more firmly I root my practice in my relationship with my students. I approach parenting the same way. When it comes to teaching or learning, the relationship grounds my work. I personally appreciate having an patient coach who can share her expertise with me and can target specific points for me to work on while also allowing me time and space to try out the work itself.
When I’m in the teacher seat, I aspire to be empathetic, positive, and encouraging. I am careful with my choice of words; I believe my words help manifest reality. I believe children learn best when they feel safe with their teacher. No matter what else their needs were, are, or will be, children need to trust their teachers. I believe in empathetic coaching, positive reinforcement, and celebrating learning, in addition to play-based learning with instruction.
When I watch my baby or toddler closely in the tub or pool, I am providing more than physical safety; I’m observing her expressions, her actions, and making quick decisions about interventions. It sometimes looks like play as I’m evaluating her, reinforcing trust, and showing her new things to try, as well as teaching our pool rules. Lifeguards and other swimmers appreciate when little ones are watched closely by their guardian.
This being said, I’m glued to her side or speaking in her ear when it’s appropriate. Her personality is such that she likes to try things independently, so I honor that within a framework of boundaries. Learners need time to explore within an expected structure. She is gaining positive experiences as she explores swimming at her own pace.
Becoming a strong and safe swimmer requires frequent playtime in the water (which you can start doing with your baby or toddler in the bath at home!) and usually, regular meetings with a compassionate “swim instructor” who can support areas of skill growth (which you can learn from my blog until your baby or toddler is old enough to begin swimming lessons!) All of my former students who swam with me regularly grew into safe and skilled swimmers. At a year and a half, Molly shows all the signs that she is on her way to independently swimming, too, and it’s all stemming mainly from bath times.
I’m a tad geek, so I added a resources page for those of you like me who want to learn about how to talk to kids and think about brains. 🙂 Would love to your parenting philosophies as well! Do you ground your parenting in an ideology that works for your family?