Baby drown-proofing has been around for some time in USA and is making its way to our shores, many of you may have questions about how this is achieved.
These lessons are not a swimming lesson the aim is not to teach your child to swim or enjoy the water; the aim is to teach your child to save themselves should they fall into water and then to test that skill fully clothed.
This is what is called Infant Survival Lessons, they have featured on some day time news programs and doing the rounds on Facebook over the last few months.
The Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) train children from 6 months old to maintain a back-float position by rotating onto their backs and waiting for help to arrive should they fall into water unsupervised, children generally undertake a course of 6 weeks, where they attend daily 10 minute sessions one to one with the tutor and are tested fully clothed at the end.
There is understandably, however, some controversy surrounding the ISR technique as it heads to the UK for the first time we feel it is time that we discuss this. The purpose of this blog post today is to hopefully inform you of the differences between Splash Stars lessons and those of the ISR.
At Splash Stars we believe children should love and respect the water from an early age, the aim of our lessons is to develop a beautiful confident swimmer, to help a child enjoy water to nurture their confidence and allow them to shine.
We also want nurture that parent/child bond swimming is a fantastic bonding experience for parents and babies, the opportunity to spend 30 minutes a week skin to skin with your child with no distractions just the two of you without life’s pressures with the added bonus of teaching your child a skill for life. Splash Stars teach correct progressive swimming techniques and create a fun and nurturing environment for your child to enjoy and learn to swim effectively.
As you all know we teach important lifesaving skills in all our lessons the basics are introduced as early as a few weeks old holding on, monkey walking, moving to a point of safety, turning in the water, techniques that will teach your child to swim to a point of safety in a fun, relaxed non forced environment at your child’s pace.
Safety is our number one priority when it comes to our children, we teach them to cross the road safely, stranger danger, ensure they have the correct car seat the list goes on forever, we don’t however usually test whether what we have taught them has worked, the idea of asking a two year old to cross the road alone is insane right? The bottom line when it comes to water is NOTHING will ever replace watching your child around water, even the strongest swimmers can drown it can happen and it does, in the last six years 30 children under the age of 10 have drowned on holiday, in nearly all of these cases the accident had happened unsupervised.
Key facts behind these drowning’s
Toddlers (0 – 3 years) – Two to three years are most at risk. In many cases the toddler wandered away from parents and fell into a pool.
Young children (4-5 years) – Some drowning’s happened after the child was last seen playing in the water, or playing near to water. In many cases parents were unaware of the problem until the child was found in the water (most commonly a hotel swimming pool).
Older children (6-9 years) – In all of these cases the children were swimming.
Parental supervision – Drowning children don’t cry out for help and wave to be rescued, they disappear under the surface, often unseen and unheard. Adults need to be vigilant whenever a child is in or near a pool.
I myself have had a near drowning experience as a young child, I got into a pool unsupervised and although a strong confident swimmer I took on water and panicked, its something that will stay with me forever and not something I would wish on anyone. In the UK very few houses have their own swimming pools thus the risk is lower than countries where swimming pools in homes are commonplace.
ISR believe that the water shouldn’t be associated with love and affection, as this will give the child a false sense of security; parents aren’t invited into the water because the child needs to learn to objectively respond to an emergency and a parent would find it too hard to deal with this. Many have reported being unable to watch the first few lessons. As amazing as the finished product looks, i.e. a child that can roll onto his back and float until help arrives, does look impressive, however there is concern on how this approach has affected the child and what they’ve been through to get to that stage.
From the research, we have done and the footage we have seen of these children’s first few lessons it would appear it takes a lot of panic, tears and fear before they are at that level, which isn’t in line with our philosophy. Like everything when it comes to our children, we are all going to have different views and opinions on how they are taught anything, let alone how they are taught to swim but its important to know that ISR and our lesson are totally different and making the decision regarding which one you want to choose will no doubt be a lengthy process of research.
Key points for parents to consider when around water with their children
Before you go:
- Check the safety arrangements in advance
- Teach children never to swim alone
- Be cautious about booking villas that do not have safety fencing
- Take a first aid course – know how to resuscitate a child
- Ask your travel company if the hotel pool has a lifeguard
When you are there:
- Actively supervise all young children near water
- Choose pools that are fenced with locking gates
- Even if a pool has a lifeguard – know where your children are, and what they are doing in the water
- Let children take swimming classes whilst on holiday – they are a great way of gaining water confidence and learning essential water safety skills
- Inflatables are not a substitute for supervision or swimming ability
Rules for children:
- Water safety rules for children
- Never swim alone
- Do not dive into unknown depths of water, and only jump feet first into water
- Do not push or jump onto others
- Know where to get help in an emergency
There is a bottom line however, and it all boils down to whether you want your child to learn to swim in an effective, fun and loving manor, or whether you want to child to learn to survive. We believe that teaching a child to swim effectively, enjoy the water, to love and respect it will benefit them hugely in more than just the pool and as parents to always supervise your children around any water source.
Stay safe, Nichole xx