It’s been a while since I wrote a blog article, but on our holiday return to NZ from South Korea I reflected on the skill of swimming and what makes it so difficult to learn. As adults, many of us don’t remember the process of learning to swim and how complex it can be. We remember it being fun, and possibly not even through formal instruction as we had the opportunity to be in and around water a lot more often.
While we were home, we took our kids to the mountain to teach them to ski. While the youngest one preferred to throw snowballs and have hot chocolates (!), the other two dabbled in some snowploughs and learnt how to ‘pizza’. As I spoke with other parents watching their children fall over and learn what to do with their limbs, I realised a common thread; most children were able to pick up the basics of skiing relatively quickly. When you break down the movement patterns required for skiing, it is not as complex a motor skill as swimming. For sure there are some natural ‘water babies’, but the majority find moving through water more challenging than other sports.
At Swimsense, we are always trying to think ‘how can we teach better, how can we make the process easier for children?’ I’ve enjoying getting in the water and teaching some lessons while I’ve been home and one aspect we are big on at SwimSense is body position. Body position is absolutely essential for efficient movement through the water. One of the steps to good freestyle is having a good streamline. But for a good streamline, we need good shoulder flexibility. Something I have noticed has decreased during our 2 years away. Why? That is something that has left me pondering – less playground time with covid, less pushing and pulling/climbing with our friends?? Possibly a combination.
Playgrounds are wonderful inventions to help our children move through a range of functional movements without children even knowing. Monkey bars are the bee knees of shoulder flexibility and strength! Do you know, upper body strength can even help handwriting? I’ve noticed some children seem to be struggling to hold their arms above their heads. It’s not necessarily a movement that is in our everyday movement repertoire, but a little exposure regularly will go a long way. Streamline homework explanation here sent to our parents.
When we reflect on the feeling a parent gets from seeing their children enjoy, improve and flourish in anything whether it’s learning to read, developing social skills, or accomplishing a sporting skill, we have to admit, swimming can be a sport we don’t see as many ‘wins’ once they start learning the intricacies of freestyle for example. This doesn’t mean your child isn’t trying their absolute best, but with good teaching, patience (and asking us any questions), trying out the homework suggestions such as the shoulder flexibility, they will get there! It just takes a little more time.