After 10 weeks of swimming lessons, today was the final day of Red Cross Level 2 swimming lessons for Elijah, who will be turning 6 this week. My kids are both little fish – never afraid of the water as infants and always eager to go swimming whenever the chance comes up. Elijah was in swimming lessons from the time he was 3 years old, in our old community which only had an outdoor pool. The summer was always swimming-lesson time.
I began to notice something among the (teenage) instructors that worried me. They were not paying attention. They’d ask my son to do one the required tasks for Level 2, he wouldn’t do it successfully, and the instructor would nod and say, “Good job!” and move onto the next child. It wasn’t that there were too many kids per instructor either.
The first time (yes first, there were more) he was in Level 2 there were 2 other children in his class. The following summer, instead of enrolling him in Level 3 which he clearly, at the age of 4, was not ready for (there were kids in grade 2 in that level) I put him in Level 2 again. Five kids total in his class this time. Once again, same routine…he passed again. “See you in level 3!” his report card said, scrawled in that messy writing so characteristic of teenage boys. I was left unsettled.
Moving to a larger city I debated for days what level to enroll Elijah in at the new pool, with new instructors. Do I put him in Level 3 when my gut, after passing Level 2 twice, was telling me my kid was not ready, or do I enroll him in Level 2 for a third time and somehow explain to my son why I was “holding him back”?
I opted for Level 2 again – by the way 6 year olds do not care that they are held back. They care that they get to swim!
And so, 10 weeks later there we were. The report card was handed to me (quickly) by his new instructor. I noted that there’s no completion date and pulled the instructor aside to ask, “Does this mean I should put him in Level 2 again?” The look of terror in her eyes and the stumbling of her words told me that this may be the very reason I was in this particular situation to begin with.
“He’s a great kid,” she stammered, “But he’s just not ready…” I interrupted her with a smile and said, “This is a good thing! This means you’re doing your job.”
I saw the sigh of relief and the smile come back to her face.
“I’d much rather you tell me my kid isn’t ready to move on than pass him TWICE like other instructors have done,” I told her.
She gave me some areas Elijah could improve on over the summer, and I thanked her graciously for her work these past 10 weeks.
Are teachers, instructors, and coaches so scared of parents that they are passing our children when they should not be? It’s a shame if this is the case. Especially in something as life-saving as swimming skills are concerned, I 100% don’t want my son to sink before he swims.
Isn’t that the point of learning in the first place?
I am a proud mommy today. Elijah did his best and is a better swimmer than he was 10 weeks ago. To me, that’s what matters. Next fall, we will tackle Level 2 for the fourth time.