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Julia de Lucchi on WABC 2011 Conference in Florida

wabc 2011 Julia de Lucchi, Birthlight Infant Aquatics tutor, shares some of her learning form the WABC Conference in Florida...

Kathy McKay did a wonderful presentation, her title: "Are you ready for a paradigm shift?"

She challenged everyone there to think about who they were as a swimming teacher.  What trend were they setting?  I will share some of my notes:

A paradigm shift is a change from one way of thinking to another. It is driven by agents of change. Are you leading an exploration into a new way of teaching: holistic, mindful, respectful, co-operative, connected, peaceful, inclusive?

Why should crying be any part of a learning environment?  Are you keeping water safety skills in their context, placing the child's happiness first?  Do you allow time for relationships to develope?  Bonding to happen?  Do you play and sing in your classes?  Do you live for the moment?  Do you flow or force?  Do you allow students and parents to progress at their own pace?  Do you guide rather than dominate?  Do you love the difficult child, the difficult parent, the difficult situation?  Can you work together and come together?  Do you allow your inner child to come out and play? Are you patient and caring and soft? Can you rise above the business?  Do what you love and the money will follow.  Be who you what you do.

Are you compassionate, mindful and peaceful in your lessons?  Listen to the heart song, be led by the smiles and be as structured as a circle.  Follow the energy of your class.  Redirect if there has been illness, lack of sleep, teething, etc.

A shift to respect...."I see you you....your inner spirit....and I respect it and honour it"

"Be the change you wish to see in the world" - Ghandi

Another interesting presentation was by Robert Strauss: "Why Swim if you can fly"

He spoke about how trust is the formula to a child's learning in the water.  Not only trusting the parent, but the teacher as well. You break trust when you let go....especially if you have told the child you will not.  Or when you step back when you have said you will stay.

Swimming from the bottom up:  *On the water we fall down,  *In the water, we fall up, *On the water we compete, *In the water we fly

Robert said: "It takes as long to learn to swim as it does to learn to play an instrument".  He teaches his swimmers to rotate to breath.  He suggests we "help as much as needed, as little as possible."  You raise a child with an open hand.  There is no rush, keep a slow steady pace.
Power vs impede:
"no" vs "be careful"
"Grab" vs "hold me"

He spoke about how accidents in the water are silent and that every teacher should set up accidents in a safe environment in the water.  He suggested making sure they "fall" while playing in the pool.  This will give the child a chance to discover their own buoyancy as well as teach them valuable water safety skills.  
Teach them life skills, whilst teaching them swimming skills.  Look, see, watch, observe.
Know what to do for their ages, have your objectives, plan your lessons.
Teach them to take turns, share, use a "pretty voice", make use of "please" and "thank you", play games and sing songs.

He explained the necessity for children in our classes to learn through experimentation and through trial and error.  Errors can be a success if you learn from them.  Teach the parents not to always lift the child up when they fall, but how to rescue themselves with love and a gentle touch.

Strauss maintains that children are ready for front crawl arms when they can ride a bicycle without trainer wheels: development of the large muscle groups and sufficient balance, and when they can colour inside the lines: fine muscle group co-ordination and sufficient attention span.

I went to go and observe some of Robert's lessons, but sadly Miami was a wash out and the lessons were cancelled.  Instead we enjoyed lunch and a chat about our mutual love of teaching children to swim.

Julia de Lucchi
Birthlight Infant Aquatics Tutor