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My child is getting bored in water orientation classes, what can I do?

It is very common for children within the ages 2.5-4, who have been coming to water orientation classes for some time, to display signs of not wanting to co-operate in class, being bored with the class structure or resisting doing the lesson activities with their caregiver. Children of this age are often testing their boundaries in all sorts of ways: with their own bodies, with their physical environment, with their parents and other relationships.

Sometimes they are seeking is greater autonomy. The “I can do it myself!” scenario is very familiar for these children. And although it can be daunting and even a little scary for parents, you can and need to give them the freedom they seek within the safety of the pool environment. We call this ‘scaffolding’. Just as a building requires less and less scaffolding as its structure takes shape, your child needs less and less physical support the more confident and skilled they become in the water. Although you will still need to be within hands reach at ALL times, below are some ways you can give your child more independence:
- taking your hands off for seconds at a time
- letting them push off the wall or jump in from the side and be in the pool for a few seconds before you put your hands on to lift them up
- letting them kick by themselves on the mat with you close, just not touching

It is important that you are always watching your child’s responses – you will need to be ready to lift them up if they find themselves unable to take a breath.
Make sure you have a chat to us and your instructor in the pool, as there are lots of strategies you can use to help them past this stage.

If you try all the above suggestions, have spoken to us and your instructor and the situation persists, it is advisable to give your child a break from classes but book in for a weekly casual swim time, so they can practise and maintain their skills in an unstructured environment. At this age, unstructured play is just as beneficial as formal teaching and as a parent who has been coming to classes, you know the sorts of activities needed to maintain the aquatic skills your child has acquired. You have also achieved your goal – your child is comfortable in the water! Go and have some fun, let your child lead many aspects of your pool time and give us a call when they are ready for classes again.

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