I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had some concerns about the new Vigo County School Corporation Aquatic Center and the Swim by 7 program for kindergarten students.
If you’re curious to hear my specific doubts, you can scroll through this thread on the Haute Happenings facebook wall:
However, since I first shared my opinion, our oldest daughter has had the chance to participate in the FREE Swim by 7 program. And I have to tell you, I was truly impressed!
For starters, the Vigo County School Corporation Aquatic Center is beautiful. What a great facility! (I only wish there were more opportunities for the public to use it. For now the only option seems to be to join the Terre Haute Torpedoes.)
Vigo County School Corporation Aquatic Center
I “chaperoned” the first day of my daughter’s class, but I really wasn’t needed. The kinks seem to have been worked out, and the program is well-organized.
For the Swim by 7 program, all Vigo County kindergarteners are offered swim instruction in one-hour increments for five days.
One of my hopes is that other grades can eventually be added to the program. Five hours of instruction isn’t a lot. However, it sounds like the Aquatic Center is staying busy with the current program. The statistic I heard was that 180 of the 182 instructional days will include kindergarten swim lessons. Other times of the day are filled with classes/lessons for high schoolers and the Torpedo team. (Of course the 182 school days only account for half of the calendar year. Where do I go to place a vote that says I think we should sell day passes and open the Aquatic Center up to the public when school isn’t in session? I know I’m over-simplifying the issue, but wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all swim in this great facility?)
But I digress. Let’s get back to the kindergarten swim class.
These are group swim lessons, and I know that fact scares some parents.
Will my child be safe?
Could he drown?
Who’s watching my baby?!
A permission slip is required, so your child doesn’t have to participate. But I don’t recommend that. The kids loved it! And if you have fears about the water then what better way to combat these fears then by teaching your child how to be safe near the pool?
What I observed was one instructor in the water for about every six students. The students were randomly assigned to a group and stayed with the same instructor all week.
Students with special needs might have their aids in the water with them for one-on-one supervision.
Two lifeguards stood at the edge of the pool to monitor and provide additional supervision.
On top of that, our school’s principal, the kindergarten teacher, an Aquatic Center volunteer, the classroom’s foster grandma, and I were all nearby to watch and help if needed.
The kids blew bubbles, floated on their backs, practiced the front stroke, dunked their heads under the water, swam down for diving rings, and swam with the instructor while holding onto a pool noodle.
When the swim portion was complete, the kids moved to the side of the pool where they got to watch a safety video from Longfellow the whale on the big screen. The day I was there the point they were driving home had to do with life jackets–“Don’t just pack it. Wear your jacket!”
One of my other big concerns was how things would go in the dressing room. I didn’t go into the dressing room with the kids, but my daughter tells me that everyone changed by themselves out in the open. Our daughter didn’t love the lack of privacy–she’s old enough to understand modesty but not the exceptions that apply to locker rooms.
When our younger daughter is kindergarten age, I may be concerned about the lack of opportunity to rinse off or lotion up. (The poor girl has eczema.)
And if your daughter (or son) has long hair, I highly recommend a braid or ponytail. There’s really no opportunity or way to bring a brush to the facility.
To participate, your child will need to bring a clean and dry swimsuit and towel each and every day of instruction. If this is a problem, be sure to tell your child’s teacher. I know the Aquatic Center has been collecting suits in various sizes to help kids as needed!
Before your child participates, it also doesn’t hurt to teach basic swimming etiquette at home. For example, you might tell your child that we don’t pee in the pool or wear underwear under our swimsuits when we swim. 😉 Keep in mind that the kids will be dressing and undressing themselves–no instruction or reminder is too basic.
Final verdict? I love that our daughter had this opportunity, and I hope that more kids and grades can participate in the future.