In today’s world, our schedules are sometimes very full. Children are often moving at a fast pace when they arrive at swim lessons and it may be difficult for them to slow down, focus, and feel what their bodies are doing in the water.
With this in mind, we begin lessons by teaching the children to calm their bodies. We ask questions like: “Can your body be quiet when you are moving around?” By focusing their attention in this way, we find that the children are often able to settle down more easily.
We then ask the kids to take 3 slow breaths. To help them become more aware of inhalation, we ask them to pretend they are smelling their favorite flower, a cookie etc. To bring attention to exhalation, we ask them to quietly whisper “shhhh.”
On each breath, we focus on relaxing a different part of their body — their shoulders, then arms and tummy, then legs so that their entire body is soft. We teach them to notice how their bodies feel in the water. When their bodies are tight, they will often feel heavy. When their bodies are soft and relaxed, they will often feel lighter.
The practice of bringing our attention to our bodies and minds is known as mindfulness. Research reveals that mindfulness can facilitate learning.
According to (Mission Be, 2015), mIndfulness can help students by:
As the children learn to calm their bodies, focus their attention and increase their body awareness, swim lessons are more enjoyable and productive.
In the next article, we will expand on why body awareness aids in the children’s journey to “true comfort” and delve more into the exploration activities we use to help them become aware of how their bodies react in the water.
Mission Be. (2015). What is Mindfulness – Mindfulness Education in NYC, Long Island, Silicon Valley, CA. [online] Available at: https://missionbe.org/faq/ [Accessed 10 Apr. 2019].