Swimming lessons the Montessori way

If there’s one thing that children love more than summer (and the parks, picnics and beaches that come along with it), it’s swimming. There’s just something about water – it’s where we started out after all – and Montessori has its own way of building up a child’s confidence in the pool, no matter the age or skill level.

Similar to the style of Montessori education where learning happens through play, Dr Daniel Zylberberg, a clinical psychologist and developer of ‘Parent & Child’ swimming lessons in France, believes that a child’s self direction should be a key outcome of early-years education and that adults should act merely as facilitators, even in the swimming pool. Zylberberg’s classes have no fixed structure and are not designed with any pre-determined objectives or outcomes; an idea that conforms to the Montessori definition of ‘play’, which is described as a child-led activity that has no fixed outcome or objectives.

Usually, Montessori swimming classes give children the opportunity to learn how to swim at their own level while offering them opportunities to teach their peers (just like in the classroom). There is a swimming teacher, who facilitates the lesson by providing learning and safety tips to parents, making sure that children are relaxed enough to play in the water, boosting confidence and imparting the three Bs of swimming, namely: balance, breathing and buoyancy.

Surprisingly, it’s not all that easy to find a Montessori-style swim lesson in the UK but the principles suggested by Dr Zylberberg can be easily applied when swimming with your children this summer; it’s just a matter of remembering these core ideas:

1) All children love to learn
2) The environment/adult should encourage a ‘help me do it myself’ mentality in children
3) Observation is a powerful way to learn
4) Learning should be hands-on and through play
5) Self direction is a key outcome.

For more information on Montessori-style swimming lessons and Dr Zylberberg’s methods, read ‘Parent & Child’ Swimming Lessons In France – Montessori Inspired Classes on Bluewaveswim.co.uk.