TEACHING BODY AWARENESS
PART 1: A TIGHT vs SOFT BODY
True comfort (achieved by developing our “turtle senses”) comes from realizing that our bodies are buoyant in the water. If we learn to stay calm and “soft like a jellyfish,” our bodies actually fall up in the water, not down.
Body awareness is integral to true comfort. We teach body awareness by helping children notice the difference between tight and relaxed muscles when they are in the water. When their muscles are tight, their bodies feel heavy. When they are soft, their bodies feel light.
Developing Body Awareness
The pictures below illustrate the process as a child develops body awareness. At FLOW, we use the “rain bucket” technique to help children develop body awareness.
- Picture 1:
First, we ask children to describe the way they feel as water is poured on their skin and face. Naming the sensations helps them to expand their awareness. It also helps us address the child’s fears and concerns.
- Pictures 2 & 3 & 4:
In order to help the children recognize when their bodies are tight and when they are relaxed, we ask:
- Are your eyes squished shut and cheeks tight?
- Are your shoulders up to your ears?
Notice how the little girl’s body changed from picture 2 to 4. Her shoulders came down, her face softened and she stopped covering her face with her hands.
- Picture 4:
If the children keep their eyes closed until all the water has run off of their faces, then squeeze and open their eyes, they won’t feel the need to rub their eyes to get the water out. This is an important safety skill during their swimming journey. The kids need to know they can open their eyes without wiping them.
- Picture 5:
As children learn these skills, they relax, breathe easier and even smile!
As children become more comfortable, we slowly increase the amount of time we are pouring the water over their faces. We start with 1 second and slowly move to 5 seconds as we see they are able to hold their breath for longer periods of time.
The Journey of Body Awareness
As children learn to tune in to their body, it becomes easier for them to identify when their bodies are tight in other situations, in and out of the water. With their Adventure Guide’s (aka Coach) help, each lesson is a new adventure in discovering how these concepts apply to everything they do. As they hone yet another “turtle sense,” they will be able to travel easier in life…both on land and in the water.