I can’t believe we’re already into the second half term of the year! It only feels like a couple of weeks since I wrote an introduction to our second term of Kickers. I talked about how the change in lesson time had benefited Amy and that, though she missed Sarah, she was doing really well with her new teacher, Claire.
This half term we’ve seen a number of firsts including Amy’s first proper Seal Dive where she actually went right under the water and got her hair wet and some lovely Kick and Splash swims under the water. However, she has also proven how fickle these toddlers can be – going under the water with confidence and smiles one week and refusing point blank to even stick her chin in the next! That said, even on the days when Amy’s feeling more stubborn, she still enjoys her lessons and her confidence is growing all the time. She does make me laugh when it comes to jumping in off the float as she will often sit on there and complain “Me feezin!” when she’d clearly be warmer if she just got on with jumping back in quickly!
In my most recent update I talked about what a lovely experience Amy’s Puddle Ducks lessons are compared to Ben and Chloe’s council run lessons. I’ve been taking Ben and Chloe to our local pool for swimming lessons since around their third birthdays. £5 for half an hour’s lesson 50 weeks of the year. That’s £250 each a year which means we’ve now spent over £1000 on their swimming lessons. Now I don’t begrudge the expenditure one little bit, learning to swim is non-negotiable to my mind. All three kids must learn to swim.
However, I’m becoming increasingly disgruntled with their council run lessons and I’m starting to feel that though they’re not expensive, they’re also really not providing us with value for money. As my Mum is so fond of saying “You get what you pay for“.
As a “Yellow Hat”, I feel Ben’s progress has stagnated. His teacher is unable to give him the focus and attention he needs when she has at least 8 other children to watch in the pool. Shouting instructions from the sidelines is no substitute for someone in the water showing him and doing it with him Ben seems to spend good chunks of his lesson messing about while Dave or I quietly glare at him from the spectator area, hoping to catch his eye and let him know we are not impressed with his efforts. We are often frustrated that Ben doesn’t seem to be either trying very hard or being pushed in his lessons.
During Chloe’s 30 minute “Red Hat” swimming lesson, she swims the width of the pool around six times. The majority of her time is spent holding onto the edge and waiting her turn. Compare this to Amy who is working solidly for her half hour Puddle Ducks lesson and you can see why I might be feeling a little annoyed. If we’re waiting for Amy’s turn for a dip or jump then we are always set another task eg blowing bubbles or monkeying down the wall, no time is wasted in a Puddle Ducks lesson. Just to prove my point, I spent Chloe’s lesson on Tuesday timing how much time she was actually being constructive in her lesson (swimming, practising putting her face in the water etc) using the lap timer on my phone. And though I knew she wasn’t swimming much, even I was shocked to discover that throughout the entirety of her 30 minute lesson, Chloe swam for around 4 minutes. Seriously. When you work out the cost of each minute of actual swimming for our council run lessons and Puddle Ducks – Puddle Ducks is suddenly an absolute bargain. (Swim Academy lessons for school age children start from £12.50 per half hour session)
There is a clear structure and obvious steps for development in our Puddle Ducks sessions, each child is taught at exactly their level. I remain unconvinced that the council run lessons follow any sort of structure at all. In fact they appear to make it up as they go along much of the time – Chloe has only had one “Penguin” badge in the last year (which basically says she can get in the water) and they just don’t seem to monitor her progress at all.
As you can see, I’m falling ever more in love with the Puddle Ducks way of doing things and realising that our council lessons are something of a false economy. Perhaps it’s time we made the jump so that Ben and Chloe could finish each swimming lesson with smiles like this . . .
*Disclaimer – Amy is currently swimming with Puddle Ducks free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and (very strong) opinions remain our own*