Wednesday, November 19, 2014

the most important part of learning

Dear Em,
I swear I blinked in September & this fall was almost over. You finished another session of swim lessons. I feel like it was just yesterday that you walked into my parents pool & doggie paddled yourself to the ladder, & now you're jumping off the one meter diving board without a swimmer. But I digress...

We finished your first set of swim lessons in June & decided to take a break from lessons for the summer. When you started lessons again this September, I couldn't believe how much you had progressed with your swimming over the summer. We got a family pass to the URI pool (purchasing a family membership with swim lessons was the same cost as purchasing swim lessons without a membership), with the plan to go to the pool as a family on Friday nights to practice what you had learned in your previous swim lesson. I hoped it would be an active way to spend time as a family & reinforce what you were learning in lessons, but a strange thing happened. You started to regress.

This summer you were swimming from one end of the pool to the other, but this fall you could barely swim a couple body lengths. What the heck?! Your swim instructor said something about you bending your knees too much as you swam. I was convinced the more we practiced, the quicker you would strengthen your swimming skills. But all the practice didn't really seem to be helping, & you hated our one on one practice sessions. You just wanted to play in the pool.

Swimming on your back is pretty much your favorite.

In exasperation, I stopped trying to train you. I decided after this session of swim lessons we'd take a break & regroup. We continued to go to the pool on Fridays, but just for fun. Your little best friend joined us for most of our pool nights, & you loved every second of it.

It's a funny thing when we just let you be you. Suddenly, you were back on track. I saw you progressing in your swim lessons again, learning to swim a little further, float a little longer, & even jump off the one meter board without a swimmer. Clearly I had forgotten about the most important element of learning: having fun. I thought I had been helping you by trying to practice your swimming skills, but really I was just sucking all the fun out of swimming for you. These past few weeks I let you focus on learning during your lessons, but our Friday nights at the pool have been all about fun.

Most importantly, I watched you love swimming again. I'm glad that we were able enjoy these precious moments as a family together. I've loved to watch you jumping & splashing & squealing & swimming with happiness (even if part of the time you're tantruming because we've told you pool time is over). I'm glad we made our way back to that place of fun.

I love you so,

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