Tips for Families at the Pool
I've had a lot of parents ask what swimmers should work on over vacation. The most effective "homework" is to play! Just playing freely in the water is a great way to experiment with buoyancy and different body movements. The kids are on vacation too, so don't worry about forcing difficult skills they've been working on in class. Let their instructors be the bad guys while you take on the role of the fun grandparents :). I didn't have any beach pictures of my students, so this one if filled with family vacation pictures from my childhood.
Here are some fun games you can play with school aged kids at the pool:
I love to use silly words with a familiar cadence in all of my lessons. Even the infant classes start to recognize certain words and guess what's coming next. I didn't realize how many of them involved junk food until I wrote a list. Apparently I was hungry at the time. I'll have to add one about kale & quinoa that the kids can relate to.
Some of the phrases I use are:
Intermediate Swimming- Beginning Roll-Overs:
When introducing rolling onto the back to breath, I have kids say "Peanut Butter M&M mmmm" while on their back. As they say mmm (encourages blowing bubbles through the nose like humming) I roll them onto their belly. As they start doing roll-overs (swim 4 arms on belly, roll on back to breath, repeat) on their own a lot of kids will do a fast 360 and miss the breath. By saying "Peanut Butter M&M" out loud I know that they are breathing while on their back but not hanging out for too long.
Intermediate Swimming- Integrating Arms & Kick:
Some students have a great kick when using a kick board, but have trouble maintaining it while performing the whole stroke. I have kids begin with streamlining/kick for 3-5 seconds and then add in the arm stroke when I say "Cheddar Cheese Doodle".
Advanced Swimming- Breaststroke:
To encourage gliding in breaststroke and bring the timing together in a fun way we say "Pull, Breathe, Kick...Double Decker Chocolate Cake". As swimmers become more adept, we shorten the glide to "ooga booga" for a more natural flow. This tends to slow down the speed demon breaststrokers and bring some fun to learning proper timing- the most difficult part of breaststroke.
Yoga & Active Movement Games
Mindfulness- Introduction to Mantras & Walking Meditation:
I have used the silly phrases as a lead in to learning about mantras and walking meditation. I place yoga blocks in a circle or poly spots in a spiral. As we walk along the dots or blocks we say "yabba dabba doo" each time we place a foot. After getting out the giggles, we start to incorporate Thich Nhat Hanh's simple walking meditation (I usually only use the first two lines in kids classes):
l also love these posts about children's mantras from Left Brain Buddha and Move With Me.
Climbing- Static vs Dynamic:
I used to describe dynamic & static movement as fast and slow to the itty bitty climbers, but this wasn't even accurate enough for a 3 yr old translation. Now I have them hover their hand over the next hold and say a silly phrase before touching down. We use lots of different voices to keep things interesting as well. A climber should be able to pause at any time while moving statically, whereas he is committed to the dynamic move as soon as he leaves the first hold.
Climbing- Hold Types:
When reviewing hold types or simple movements you can keep kids engaged by calling out a hold when they reach it. For example, during a traverse we might say "crimper" in a small baby voice, "sloperific" with a surfer persona, or "jug" in a deep drawl when we come across each hold. I will also have students say "Matchey Matchey" in a bird chirp when matching feet, or "d-d-d-dyno" when making a dynamic move.
Rebecca & Sarah have been working with children for over a decade. You can find a compilation of ideas for the classroom, home, and athletic fields here.