"The water is your friend. You don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move. "
Idle threats and boredom do not inspire my kids. Funny Girl, who was so excited about learning how to swim, now has to be convinced to go each morning. This change in attitude started on Friday. I'm not entirely sure what happened on Thursday, but I think it was the boredom that set in first.
In a classroom setting, kids have to share the teacher. It's no different in our family, but the class size is much smaller. I was happy to see only two other little girls in FG's class on that first day though. I thought it would be easier than some of the classes I had Robotson in when he was younger. He was usually one of at least five or six.
At first, the novelty of having a new teacher and learning new things was enough. She wasn't real thrilled that time she jumped in and went all the way under, but it was pretty clear she wasn't going to let that happen again. After that class, she told me she didn't like getting water in her nose, and I told her that going under the water was her choice. She took from that the courage to state before a jump how far she is willing to be immersed.
They learned how to kick properly (ballerina toes), how to move the arms in freestyle (windmill arms), and what I think is the breaststroke (duck, plane, crash). These were introduced slowly along with getting comfortable jumping into the pool, and blowing bubbles. Alternating the girls so they each got a little practice left two of them usually bored, and sometimes cold, on the side of the pool. By Friday morning, FG was reluctant to go back. During the lesson I could tell she frustrated, bored, and not having any fun.
I hoped the weekend off would renew her excitement, but it was even harder to get her motivated. On the one hand, I don't want to let her quit. The class isn't that long and I think it's a good thing for her to be exposed to different learning styles. On the other hand, I don't want to force her to do something that could kill her enthusiasm for the water. So this morning when she didn't want to go, we talked to her about it, but ultimately left the decision up to her. I had an errand to run, and she could either go with me and her lesson, or stay home. She chose to go.
The lesson started off poorly. I was sitting close enough to hear, and one of the first things out of the teacher's mouth was "Do you want to go to time out?" Is this not a ridiculous question? Do kids normally say yes to this? We don't use time outs, so I'm not even sure she understands what that means. Either way, I'm pretty sure the intention is not to remove her from the class because it was threatened multiple times, yet never acted upon. I'm not always sure that people haveto follow through when they say they will do something, but I can see an argument for not even bothering to say it if you don't mean it. I should stop right here to say that I don't think this young girl teaching the class is a bad person or instructor. I think she's not used to working with kids that question authority, question the reasons behind what they've been told to do, and when they are not comfortable - refuse to do it. I can't really say that I blame the teacher at all because I know firsthand how difficult it can be to get these kids to trust you. I think that's what it boils down to, honestly. Does FG trust this woman to teach her how navigate water? I think the answer is no.
Halfway through the lesson today, the woman who oversees the lessons got into the water to help out. There was only one other girl in class today, so each girl could get one-on-one help. Now FG really flourished. I was beginning to wonder if she had shut herself off completely from learning anything, but I saw her do each move very well. What a difference it made! The water is where she wants to be. I also think the other woman has more experience; perhaps even a more confident hold in the water. Something was different.
I don't know how the next four lessons will go, but this experience has reinforced my views on traditional education and discipline. I was the sort of kid that wanted to get lost in a classroom; just forget I existed so I could do my work and nothing more. My kids are interested and passionate about learning. If given the opportunity to work on something fully, and with a trusted mentor, they will go above and beyond. I love that.