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First Class Tadpole Level- British Swim School

In exchange for an honest review on this blog, British Swim School of Central MD has provided my family with free swim lessons. All opinions and thoughts are my own

Level: Tadpole

Water Acclimation: 3 Months to 36 Months with Parent
(6 Children Max, Parent-assisted class)

“A water acclimation class for infants and toddlers to introduce them to the water for the first time, reducing their fear and the potential of tears. We’ll introduce an assisted back float and submersion in this level. You should expect a lot of songs and splashing in this class while your infant freely and independently explores the water environment.”

Caroline is exactly 2.5 years old and, while she is super comfortable with the water, it sounds like they like to start all children under 3 in the tadpole class. I am definitely on board with this, because the tadpole class is mostly focused on fun and positive experiences in the water, with a brief intro to some basic skills. We live in a place with true seasons, so, while Caroline was jumping in from the side of the pool last year, she was hesitant to get in this year after many months away from the pool. The drains and the lines at the bottom of the pool caught her attention in our first attempts this season at pool time, and she was clinging to me like a little koala!

A look at all of their programs can be found at here. 

The Lesson
If I had to pick one word to describe the tadpole lesson, it would be ENGAGED. The lesson was so much fun. Caroline was having a blast. The class was small (only 3 children), so the instructor was able to really engage and interact with all of the children. It was easy to see that the instructor was fabulous with kids, and knew exactly what to do to get their attention.

The lesson was JAM PACKED with songs, general fun, and tons of skill exposure! I have to say I was really impressed with all that we did in just 30 minutes. Not only did we focus on several skills, the instructor had time to work with each child individually on all of these skills!

Here are the skills that were focused on (amidst the songs, laughing, and playing):

The pictures you see in this post are a mixture of the 1st class, and the Splash-a-palooza event that they held for my MOMS club. The class photos have Caroline in her white swim cap. All of the pictured activities/skills were done in the class and at the event, however.

Assisted floating
They start teaching safety from day 1, by introducing the back float that they are known for keeping as a priority. At the tadpole level, the float is assisted, meaning that you are supporting your little one’s head by resting it on your shoulder. We get their ears wet, but keep them comfortable with the entire process by holding them and reassuring them the entire time.

Caroline loves to kick, so our focus with her was getting her to just relax and stay still. She did it though! By the end, she had her head fully rested on my shoulder, legs were relaxed, and was even letting me drop my shoulder down a bit more to give her more independence. After her lesson we went over to our community pool. She’s working on her counting skills, so I decided to count to 10 with her to indicate her float time was over. She relaxed the entire time and even counted with me. So much fun to see her progression in just 1 day of working with her!

One of the main things with getting children comfortable with the water, is showing them how to go underwater, and that they will be ok! In this lesson the instructor worked one on one with the children on this skill. They do 1-2-3 deep breath, and then dunk them under in a passing motion back to mom or dad.

Caroline can do this and has done it several times. She dislikes it though. She is so polite and just keeps saying “I don’t want to do that, Mama”. “Please don’t put me under”. It’s hard not to listen to a 2.5 year old that’s being so polite about it and just clearly stating her feelings. So, I’m not entirely sure how this will work with moving up to the next level. I always ask her to try everything (just as she does in gymnastics), so I’ll continue to have her do it once per lesson and see if she can work up to feeling more comfortable with it. 

Airplane is a fun technique that they use in this class and is something that Caroline loves doing. You basically extend your arm under your child’s chest and away from your body, while leading them in a circle around you. They get to kick and “swim”. They also get out some large foam boards for the little ones to get on and kick.

Caroline’s favorite thing to do is “swim” down the pool with me holding onto her, so she was a huge fan of airplane. She loves kicking and is so great at it. The foam board, she did completely unassisted (held on by herself and kicked). When we went to our community pool after her lesson, all Caroline wanted to do was swim, swim, swim. We did countless laps in the pool and she kicked so well. 

Core Strength/Movement
One of my favorite things to watch was the inner tube time! There is a ton of body and movement awareness, and core strength that has to be present to maneuver in these little rings. The ones that British Swim School uses fit around their chests perfectly- they are not going to slip through! It was fascinating to watch Caroline in this for the first time.

Caroline first tried this last Wednesday during a Splash-a-palooza event that the British Swim School held for my MOMS club. The first minute she was rolling over a bit and needed help straightening out. After that, however, she was on a roll. She could keep her face out of the water, kick all around the pool completely unassisted, and change direction easily. I was such a fan, that I bought one today at the lesson to bring home with us. It gives Caroline independence, gives my arms a break, and it looks like it is a great workout for her little core muscles. She’s so aware and in control of her movements in it. 

Climbing out of the pool
Climbing out of the pool is an essential skill to learn. Stairs and ladders may not always be close by, so I really appreciated the time that was taken to introduce this skill to this young age. They have the children hang onto the wall (with your knee supporting them if need be). They the children do “elbow, elbow, knee, knee” to get out of the pool. 

Caroline can do this 99% on her own and gets better each time! She’s loved hanging on to the side of the pool unassisted for some time now, and she can get out on her own with just the tiniest boost up.

Getting into the pool
Once out of the pool, we sing “Humpty Dumpty” and let them fall into our arms from a seated position on the side of the pool.

Caroline goes with the flow on this, but really she wants to stand and jump like we do on our own!

Free play
Believe it or not, there is time for free play at the end of this 30 minute class! They have all sorts of toys to play with in the pool, and the kids all get some extra one on one time bonding with the instructor during this time as well.

Caroline kicked around in her inner tube the entire time going from the instructor to the wall to me and back around again. I hardly felt the need to stay close by she does so well in it!

Caroline loved everything about this class. She loved the songs, the splashing, the learning, the instructor, the time with me, etc. She was fully engaged the entire time. Her only hold up was not wanting to go underwater, but again she was polite about it! LOL! They gave her a swim cap with her name on it, and she also loved that added detail! You can see the pure JOY in her face in all of the photos!

I was really impressed with the lesson overall. I was initially worried about the class being only 30 minutes, but obviously after attending the class that is of no concern with all that was put into the time! Every single person that I’ve met at this school so far has been wonderful to work with, and has been amazing with children. Today felt like we’d been part of the BSS family and attending for months. We were welcomed, and were both immediately comfortable in our surroundings. I am a huge fan of the focus on FUN. The skills are all intertwined into the lesson, but as far as my child is concerned- she’s just having fun. This is how it should be. It is clear to me that Caroline is going  to have nothing but positive experiences with these lessons, and that right there is huge. When children are having fun and feel comfortable, a lot of learning can take place. So, this Mama is very pleased and eager to see her progression!

Speaking of progression, I have a feeling Caroline is going to be at the next level in no time. I am not sure how comfortable she’ll need to be with going underwater, but that is going to be her only limiting factor. Again, she CAN do it, she just doesn’t WANT to LOL!

Goals of the Tadpole class:
– Water acclimation:  Completed
– No tears, no fear: Completed
– Assisted back float with ears in: Completed
– Full gentle submersion: Completed with hesitation? LOL!
– Working towards independence in the swim ring: Completed

The next level is called Swimboree. It is another parent assisted class for the same age range, and it sounds like it’s still all the same fun with just a bit more focus on safety and survival skills: “Building on our Tadpole skills, little ones begin their water survival skills through a structured program of songs, games and fun. Your instructor will work one-on-one with you and your child.  Students must meet Tadpole goals in order to enroll in Swimboree.” 

Special $15 Credit
If you live in Montgomery County or Frederick County, Maryland, and are interested in signing up for your first lesson, I am really excited to announce that you can receive a $15 credit towards your account just by mentioning my full name: Katrina Villegas! The information for our central Maryland British Swim Schools can all be found at this link. And not to worry if you live elsewhere, there are British Swim Schools ALL over the US!

Click here to join the MOC Village

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