Drown proofing (def): The act of throwing a defenceless child into the deep end of the pool and hoping they will swim out of the sheer terror of dying.
That was how I learn to swim. A psychopathic bitch threw me, aged 3, into the water and watched me sink. Then she’d hold my head down into a bucket of water and turn my head when she would allow me to breathe. I still feel nauseous when I smell chlorine.
As a result I was not going to force this on the next generation.
Nonetheless, learning to swim is essential and had to be done. Although the Diva and her brother were decidedly not keen (let’s just say kicking and screaming), I dragged them to swimming lessons with Danielle Gal at Aquamarine Aquatics.
I think the tears lasted about 30 seconds. In the past few months I’ve watched my kids go from being terrified of water to swimming like little eels. I wish I had been taught to swim in the same gentle way with an emphasis on having fun in the water.
Their older brother was happy to mess about in the water, but could barely swim a length. After some persuading he joined a more advanced class with Timothy Smith and has gone from being one of the stragglers in the school gala to winning four of his five races. Even more impressive he was chosen for the U11 Waterpolo A Team.
More than just teaching them to swim, Danielle and Timothy have changed their lives. They’ve learned that facing your fears and embracing them can be empowering. They’ve learned to love the things they were afraid of. Their confidence has grown in all aspects of their lives.
Realising this, I sent them to Delia Strouhl at the Reading Workshop.
Both of them were terrified of learning to read, convinced they couldn’t do it and not inclined to try.
I explained to them that reading was a lot like swimming.
Learn how to do it and you can enter a world of absolute magic.
Two months down the line both of them are finally reading with confidence and enjoyment in their own abilities.
I don’t believe in throwing children into the deep end and hoping they will swim.
I believe that a gentle approach can work miracles and I am deeply grateful for the help of Danielle, Delia and Timothy in making such a huge difference to all our lives.
I can count the teachers who changed my life on one hand.
I know my children will count you on theirs.