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Why We Use Floaties? (Water Wings)

Using Water Wings

Some teachers discourage the use of floaties (water wings, backpacks). It is argued that it slows the swimming development of the students. I wholeheartedly agree and I rarely use any kind of flotation devices in my lessons but I do believe that there is a place for such devices.

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

There are, I believe a number of good reasons why it can be useful to allow students to wear floaties for at least part of the lesson:
  1. They assist the student to swim.
    Properly used they actually encourage students to swim. Particularly the arm band type.

  2. With the arm band type children have reasonable movement of arms and can have a form of stroke. Even if the stroke is doggy paddle.

    Image of a pair of water wings
    Flotation Devices
  3. Build confidence.
    The child is allowed to build confidence at their own pace. Somewhat like training wheels. Under proper instruction students become, over time less dependent on the instructor.

  4. An instructor can assure a student that they can swim by themselves and encourage them to let go. If you do this you must not try to trick the student. That is if you say that you will keep your hand available then you must have your hand available for them to grab.

    I personally like to encourage the student to let go of my hand rather than me letting go of them. I assure them that my hand will not move and I don't move it.

    Some times (but only when I have tried everything else) I may remove my hand to show them it is safe despite the protests. But I always tell them I am going to do it as well, as how and when I will put my hand back. I never break a promise. this is much better done with floaties.

    But my main reason for approving of the use of floaties to teach swimming is

  5. Safety
    Under certain circumstances, say when you have a child that despite everything you try will not stay on the edge or the platform even though they sink straight to the bottom, it makes me feel as though I am keeping my charges safer than if I would be should I not have floaties. This is not and excuse to take your eyes off the student... Ever!

    This cannot be over emphasized. The safer I feel my students are they safer they will feel. Students always pick up on the vibes of the teacher.

So if you are looking for alternatives for a student that will not stay still despite themselves or if you need to try something other than your normal drills because the child is not progressing as well a you would like, then maybe there is a place for floaties in you lessons.



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