Sometimes children appear to plateau in their swimming lessons or do not appear to be progressing as fast as they were previously. This could be that they are not moving up a class as often as they used to or are taking a while to adapt to a new class. There can be a number of reasons for this including:
Complex skills and minimum distance involved in certain ASA stages: Some of the ASA swimming stages involve learning a number of new or complex swimming skills that can take time to master, as well as an minimum distance that children should be able to swim. This is most evident at stage 1, 6 and 10 where children should take a minimum of 2 terms to achieve these awards.
Adapting to a new class: The jump up a class can be big at certain stages, particularly moving into beginners 1, improvers 1 or improvers 2. Children can take time to adapt to the new class and at this point you may see a regression in their technique as they work hard to manage the class. Parents should not be concerned about this - as long as the basic technique and core aquatic skills were there previously they will return as the child gets used to the class.
Not physically or psychologically ready for the next stage: We feel that children should never be grouped according to age, apart from our preschool classes. However, when children progress through the stages at a very young age there will come a time when they may not be physically or psychologically ready for the next stage. It is never in a child's best interest for them to move to a class when they are not ready for it.
Variation throughout the year: Many children 'plateau' at certain times of the year and you may see this every year as your child progresses through lessons. This can also happen at times of change for children such as starting school.
Minimum requirements for each class: Many of our classes have a minimum of two stages that must be achieved before progressing to the next class. Children are expected to take a minimum of one term for every stage or distance they are working towards. For reference the average child will spend the following length of time in each class:
- Preschool - minimum of 3 terms to achieve Duckling 1- 4 and Stage 1*
- Beginners 1 - minimum 1-2 terms to achieve Stage 2
- Beginners 2 - minimum 2-3 terms to achieve Stage 3 and 4
- Improver 1 - minimum 2-3 terms to achieve Stage 5 and 6*
- Improver 2 - minium 2-3 terms to achieve Stage 7 and 8
- Advanced - minimum 3-4 terms to achieve Stage 9 and 10*
(* theses stages are the most difficult to achieve and parents should not be concerned if their child is taking 2-3 terms to achieve the stage)
Frequency of Lessons/Practice: Swimming is proof that practice makes perfect. So it makes sense that the more lessons and practice your child gets, the faster they progress. Its often unavoidable to miss a class but try to be as consistent as possible with your child's swimming lessons.
What can I do to help?
Encouragement and positive feedback! The absolute best thing you can do to help your child is to encourage them in their efforts and praise them for any achievements they make regardless of how small they may be. Our teachers will praise the children for small achievements within the class, but we love it when parents reinforce this after class as it definitely helps to keep the child motivated.
Take your child swimming out with their weekly lesson. This is a good chance to enjoy the pool as well as practice any skills that your child may be finding particularly difficult. It also ensures that children continue to enjoy the water at times when they may not be enjoying their lesson quite as much as previously.
Don't take a break from lessons. Many parents think that this period of 'plateau' is a good time to take a break from swimming. However, this is probably the worse thing you can do in your child's swimming journey as it reinforces the halt in progression and many children can be reluctant to resume lessons again if they have left on a negative.
Explain the importance of the other awards. Children can get frustrated being 'stuck' at a stage for a couple of terms and may be disappointed come award day if they do not receive the badge they were hoping for. We will always award a child a badge regardless of their progress that term as we feel every child should be rewarded for their effort in the pool. The best way to approach this with your child is to explain to them that some stages are difficult to achieve and the distance badges are just as important as the stages.