Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Difference Good Teaching Makes

We swim. My Mom learned to swim just off the St Laurence at a place called "The Yacht Club". Sounds swanky, but it was the 1950s and everyone just swam there. My Dad learned in the pond on the back of my grandparents' property. I managed to be one badge shy of being able to go for my lifeguard certification. Ray swims.

Xander has been in swimming lessons since he was three (we did one round of the tots and parents and that was one round too many for me!). He swims. But last term's lessons ended with him being terrified of the deep end, insisting he could no longer swim, and a fight for every lesson just to get him to the pool. And I found out why: the instructor was not encouraging. He told my child that he wasn't a good swimmer and that he couldn't do it. And then he would tell him that he had to tread water for 10 minutes! It was quite the contradiction. I was mad and upset, so I told the head guard about it and pulled Xander out 3 lessons early.

Luckily I have a few contacts at the pool and I was determined to not let Xander stew in his misery and misconceptions. He *can* swim. He swam better than last term when he was 4 and 5! So I made sure he had a good teacher this time.

...and then I bribed him to get him in the pool. (15 minutes on his DS if he went in and worked hard, another 5 if he jumped into the water)

This is Xander swimming across the pool (he's the tiny head in the water) the second week of classes:

And this is him preparing to dive into the very deep end of the pool two weeks ago.
What's the difference? The young lady who is his teacher never tells him he can't do something. She tells him he's doing a good job, says things like "way to go!" and couches any extra instruction with "next time we will add/try..."

Xander would literally try to walk on the water for her!

We have been lucky that both of out boys have always had a daycare provider, preschool teachers, babysitters, family, and swim instructors who have been like this. And I fully admit, I didn't appreciate it nearly as much until it was gone. Now, I am appreciating it even more!

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