Getting results when teaching swimming to children requires some essential skills. Appropriate praise and effective communication are vital, and when mixed with a ton of fun, swimming lessons become something that children can't wait to jump into and get splashing around.
As a teacher, you are also a motivator. Some pupils you teach will need more motivation than others. Most children can't wait to get into the pool, start swimming and impress the teacher. You will, however, come across children who have swimming lessons because they have been made to do so by their parents, whether they need them or not. Either way, a motivating teacher with good communication skills brings out the best in pupils.
Praise is the easiest and most common form of motivation when teaching swimming to children. Remember to praise effort as well as success. Praising effort even when the pupil has not achieved success is key to motivating the underachiever.
Feedback is a more detailed, constructive form of praise, and the pupils are given a clearer picture of how they are performing and improving. If feedback is to be motivational, it has to be positive.
For example, a swimmer returns to the poolside after practising front crawl leg kick unsuccessfully. Your job is to teach and motivate them. Your feedback should go something like this:
Avoid negative feedback, for example, "Don't bend your legs."
Goal-setting is an ideal way of motivating pupils and should form part of good lesson planning. Setting a realistic and appropriate goal will encourage progress, and goals come in many forms.
Badges and awards are the most common and popular types of goals when teaching swimming to children. Most swimming associations have comprehensive award schemes for swimmers and cater for pupils from beginners right through to advanced levels. However, teachers should note that failure to achieve an award or having too much emphasis placed on achieving an award can have the opposite effect.
Other goals can be achieving a target time, winning a race, or simply moving up a class. Human nature dictates that we are motivated by our ability, so it is vitally important that all goals are measurable and achievable in a realistic time scale.
Effective communication when teaching swimming is essential for the lesson to be productive.
As a swimming teacher, your job is to pass on information effectively and clearly, and your ability to do this will determine how quickly your pupils learn.
Every pupil is different, and any of the following communication skills will be effective, but some will be more so than others, depending on the requirements of the individual. A teacher needs to be able to use all of these methods of communication if they are to get the best from their pupils.
Of course, every teacher should have a plan. Effective lesson plans are essential to supporting communication. Click here to check you have included everything in your lesson plans.
Checked your plans? Now for the communication skills that are crucial to teaching swimming to children.
For a more in-depth look at teaching swimming to children, including all the tools required to be an outstanding swimming teacher, download How To Be A Swimming Teacher.
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The Definitive Guide To Teaching Outstanding Swimming Lessons