Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Month with ISR

I enrolled the owlet in a program called Infant Swimming Resource, or ISR. It's a 4-6 week long program for kids ages 6months and up. And it's not your typical "swim lesson" for babies or toddlers. What I mean is, rather than just getting the babies comfortable in the water, blowing bubbles or "paddling" they learn survival and self resuce skills. Not that there's anything wrong with those lessons, by the way.

Survival skills? for a 9 month old baby? Yup. You read that right.

The thought behind ISR is "not one more child drowns." That's a stance I can get behind.

No, we don't have a pool in our backyard. Heck, we don't even have a backyard. But there are two pools in our complex. There are also random bodies of water all over the place here in Denver. Rivers, ponds, pools at the mini-golf course. Whatever. Water is everywhere, and I decided I wanted the owlet to be safe in it. And near it.

After I signed the owlet up for his lessons, I panicked slightly and decided I should do a little research beyond the ISR website, and the website of my instructor, Kim Roundtree.

Big mistake. The internet is full of information. It is also full of idiots.

On one message board I visited (of which I don't remember the name, thankfully) one woman said that she didn't believe in ISR because "they let your kids cry and I don't ever want my child to cry."

.... Umm. I dont ever want my child to cry either, but he does. Especially when I don't give him something he wants. I realized then that these people were idiots. I don't want my owlet to cry unnecessarily either, but I also don't want him to fall into a pool and not know how to save himself because "I didn't want him to cry."

While no child can ever be "drown-proof" we can certainly do all we can to help teach them what to do to be safe. The same way we put them in car seats, or make them wear bike helmets, or sunscreen, or vaccinate them. (Hot topic, I know.)

Anyway, enough rambling. This is what you really came to see.

This is one of the early lessons. He's a little fussy, but I think he's more frustrated than scared. His instructor was amazing, and she worked with him so well, really learning what worked with him and what didn't. For example, she discovered that she couldn't really ease him into things, she just sort of had to go with it, because otherwise he kept his hand in his mouth and had a hard time floating.

The way they work these lessons is in 10 minute increments everyday for 4 weeks (for the little ones, it's 6 weeks for the older kiddos). They start out pretty simple, just getting them to float for longer and longer periods on their backs. Then they move to putting them down face down in the water so that they roll over onto their backs, then she sort of flips him upside down so he does almost a summersault. The last couple things are sitting him on the wall and putting him in face first and then backwards, all of which helps simulate what it would be like if they fell in the pool.

The final 3 regular lessons are done in clothes. Summer clothes, fall clothes and winter clothes. This helps prepare them for what it would feel like if he fell in with his clothes on, since it's more likely that he would fall in water wearing clothes, rather than in his bathing suit.

He did phenomenally in his "clothing" lessons, adjusting so well to the weight of the clothes. I was amazed everyday watching how well he progressed.

People have asked me how I wasn't completely freaking out during his lessons, partly because I think that it's just not normal to see a baby floating on his own in a pool of water. And it's true, it's really not. But after the first lesson, when I saw how great Kim was with the owlet, and how well he was doing, any fears I had (and there were quite a few) simply melted away, and instead I sat in awe of how well he was doing.

Today I got to go in the pool with him so that I could learn how to play with him in the water without undoing everything that Kim has worked so hard with the owlet on (and that the owlet has worked so hard learning!) before we go back in 4 months so that he can learn their next step: swim-float-swim.

This has been such an amazing experience for both the owlet and I, and I'm actually a little sad that our lessons are over, for now, anyway.

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