When I mention swimming lessons to teachers, I get two types of responses, super excited or groans. One of my top five goals is to make water safety enjoyable for everyone, including my teachers and paraprofessionals. Join me for this series about water safety!
Setting Up for Success
The first step in setting up water safety lessons should include ecological surveys of the facilities available to you. Some districts have pools available in the district, and others have built-in agreements with local rec districts. You will also need to check your district policies and ask the administration about any rules and procedures surrounding utilizing these resources and field trips. If you are unable to access any water DON’T WORRY! I will address this in part two of the series. Dry land activities!
Once you have your facility usage figured out, the next step that I recommend is seeking out resources in your area to assist with your classes. Please keep in mind that with any of my recommendations, you will need to adhere to your district policies. Call the local chapter of the American Red Cross they will be able to direct you to certified Water Safety Instructors if you are currently not a certified WSI. If you are using your local recreation center pool, they will also have a list of certified instructors who may be willing to volunteer their services or the rec center might have a donor that would be willing to subsidize their services. I know that many of you have some swim lesson experience from college courses, but I can say as a three-time WSI course taker (I have let my certification lapse) that the course work for certification is in-depth and would be incredibly valuable to have to help lead your students to success.
Prepping staff and volunteers with a pre-meeting or pre-recorded videos will help ease anxiety about the experience. You could tour the facility and talk through the trip from start to finish. What will getting dressed look like for the group? Will the students and staff be in their swimwear prior to arrival or will they be changing there? Which locker rooms will work for the student populations? Are some rooms equipped with benches large enough to assist the students in changing or will a mat from school need to be brought with a Hoyer lift? These are just some of the questions that need to be discussed as a team. I suggest using videos to demonstrate some of the different holds for swim lessons to help prep staff and volunteers to help them better assist you.
What signage should I have?
Great question! I love having a few signs premade and laminated for my trips to the pool. If you would like some free printables CLICK HERE. The stop-and-go sign is great to help students who might have difficulty hearing in the loud, pool facility. They can also be handed out to the lifeguards along with the walk sign.
We often use picture cards to communicate in classrooms and having a similar system with cards when laminated is great for use in the pool. I have some that I have created related to swimming and water safety.
Our local recreation center has cabana rooms that made getting dressed accessible for our classrooms. That being said we needed occupied signs to hang on the door. Many of our students could get dressed without an adult in the room, but the door needed to stay unlocked so that we could enter and assist as needed. Having laminated signs that could be hung up with painter’s tape was a great option to show the general public that it was in use.
Stay tuned for part 2!