FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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GENERAL

 

How is ISR it different from other swimming programs?

ISR is the product over 50 years of ongoing development in the area of aquatic survival instruction for infants and children. ISR's primary focus is to teach your child to become a productive swimmer, or floater in any depth of water. The goal of ISR is that your child becomes an "aquatic problem solver." ISR will greatly increase your child's chance of surviving an aquatic accident, even when fully clothed!

 

Are  ISR  Self-Rescue®  swimming  lessons  safe  for infants and young children? 

YES!  ISR  is  dedicated  to  safety  and  maintaining  numerous  safety  protocols  to  promote  safe  lessons. Your child's health and well-being are our  highest  priority  and  are  closely  monitored  on  a  daily  basis.  In  addition,  your  child's  medical  and  developmental history is a mandatory part of  the  ISR  national  registration  process,  all  of  which  is  held  strictly  confidential.  All  ISR  Instructors  undergo  an  intensive  and  rigorous  training  that  far  exceeds  any  other  training  program  of  this  kind.  Each  ISR  Instructor  is  also  required  to  attend  a  yearly  re-certification  symposium  that  includes  quality  control  as  well  as  continuing  education.  Your  education  in  the  area  of  aquatic  safety  for your entire  family is an integral part of  your child's lessons. You will receive access to the  "Parent  Resource  Guide",  written  by  Dr.  Harvey  Barnett and JoAnn Barnett, which will inform you  of  every  aspect  of  swimming  for  infants  and  children.  With  research,  you  will  find  that  ISR  is  the  safest  survival  swimming  program  but  also  the most effective  for  teaching infants and  young  children.

 

You say your priority is survival skills. Will my child learn to actually swim? 

 Yes.   At ISR, we believe that part of survival for a child who can walk is swimming.   Children learn  the  swim-float-swim  sequence  so  that  they could  get  themselves  to  safety.    The  difference  in  our  program  is  that  they  will  learn  swimming  AND  survival  skills and  how  to  be an aquatic  problem  solver.  

 

Will my child need additional lessons?

Based  on  our  research,  we  know  that  refresher  lessons are important because children change so  much  both  cognitively  and  physically  during  the  first  4-5  years  of  life.  It is  important  that  their  water survival skills grow with their bodies.  Frequency  depends  on  the  child's  age,  growth  rate,  skill  level  and  confidence  level.  The  goal  of  refresher lessons is  to help your child adjust his/ her new body size and weight  to his/her existing  skill  level.  Your  Instructor  will  work  with  your  child  to  help  fine-tune  his  or  her  aquatic  experience  to  assist  with  building  efficiency,  which  will  result  in  self-confidence.  This  is  especially  important  if  your  child  has  not  been  able  to  practice  any  appropriate  aquatic  skills  between seasons. 

 

What  is  the  AAP’s  position  on  swimming  lessons for young children?

In  March of 2019, the  AAP  changed  its  policy  regarding  the  age  at  which  children  may  start  swimming lessons, based on research stating that  swim  lessons  may  actually  provide  reduction  in  drowning  risk  of  children  ages  1 to  4 years-old.   “Research has found that swim lessons are beneficial for children starting around age 1, and may lower drowning rates”, said Linda Quan, MD, FAAP, a co-author of the policy statement.  Learning to swim is a great family activity,” said Dr. Quan. “Families can talk with their pediatrician about whether their child is developmentally ready for swim lessons, and then look for a program that has experienced, well-trained instructors. Ideally, programs should teach ‘water competency’ too – the ability to get out of the water if your child ends up in the water unexpectedly.” The  AAP  encourages  parents  to  consider  that  starting  water-survival  skills  training  at  an  early  age  must  be  individualized,  based  on  the  child's  frequency  of  exposure  to  water,  emotional  maturity, physical limitations and health concerns  related to swimming pools. 

 

Why should  parents  enroll  their  children  in  ISR lessons?

 ISR  parents  are  intelligent  and  enroll  their  children because they understand their children's  abilities and want to give them every opportunity  to  learn.  They  also  feel  it  is  important  to  teach  their children how to help themselves should they  Find  themselves  alone  in  the  water.  Research  shows that there are better times to learn certain  things and swimming is best learned early in life.  (Newsweek and Drowning Statistics) 

 

 
LEARNING OBJECTIVES AND SCHEDULING

How  much  will  my  child  remember  from  his  initial lessons?  

Like any physical skill, children don't "forget" the  skills but will need to adjust their skills to account  for their physical growth. In addition, children will  explore  and  may  pick  up  bad  habits  watching  other children or with interference like floating in  a  bathtub  or  playing  on  the  steps.   As  your  child  goes  through  lessons,  you  will  begin  to  understand,  through  communication  with  your  Instructor, what activities may interfere with his/ her  learned  ISR  Self-Rescue®  skills.    Contacting  and/or  returning  to  your  Instructor  in  a  timely  manner  is  imperative  to  maintaining  effective  habits.  

   

Why do you have the children swim in clothes?  

Because most of the children who fall in the water do so fully clothed, we want our students to have  experience  with  such  a  situation.    If  a  child  has  experienced  the  sensations  of  being in  the  water  in  clothing  prior  to  an  emergency  situation,  he/ she is less likely to experience panic and be able to  focus  on  the  task  at  hand.      If  you  have  ever  jumped  in  the  water  with  clothes  on,  then  you  know  that  there  is  a  significant  difference  in  weight  and  feel  with  clothes  as  opposed  to  a  bathing suit. 

 

Why are  lessons 5 days per week and  for only  10 minutes?  

The  reason  for  this  is  multifaceted.    First, repetition and consistency are crucial elements of  learning for young children.   Research shows that short,  more  frequent  lessons  result  in  higher  retention.  Second, most children have fairly short  attention  spans  and  will  not  be  able  to  focus  on  the  task  for longer  than  the 10-minute  time span  and we want to take advantage of the best time for  learning.   A  third  reason is  that,  though  the  pool  temperature  is  maintained  at  78-88  degrees,  the  temperature  is  still  lower  than  your  child's  body  temperature.      Lessons  are  work  and  therefore  your  child  will  also  be  losing  body  heat.  Instructors  check  students  regularly  for  temperature  fatigue  since  this  is  an  indicator  of  physical fatigue.  

 

If  more  frequent  but  shorter  lessons  are  better, then why don’t you teach 7 days/week?  

Everyone  needs  a  little  break  from  learning  to  process  the  information  and  in  this  case  to  give  muscles a chance to recover.  In addition, you need  to be able to spend time with your family, as does  your  Instructor.      Weekends  are  family  time.  Periodically,  if  weather  or  other  issues  have  caused lessons to be cancelled for numerous days,  your  Instructor  may  choose  to  offer  make  up  lessons  on  a  weekend.    This  is  strictly  up  to  the  Instructor and based on the availability of parents.  

 

Why  does  it  take  6  weeks  for  my  child  to  learn this? 

The 6 weeks is an estimate that is based on the  average  time  in  which  it  takes  most  children  to  learn  these  survival  skills.    Every  child is  unique  and  ISR’s  Self-Rescue®    program  is  specifically  designed  based  on  your  child’s  individual  strengths  and  needs.    It  is  important  to  realize  that  this  is  an  average  which  means  that  some  children  will  actually  finish  more  quickly  while  others will  need more  practice.    ISR is  dedicated  to safety and,  therefore, we want  to provide your  child  with  the  time  and  best  opportunity  to  become  proficient  in  his/her  survival  skills.   We will always honor your child’s needs.   

 

Do  you  have  children  that  just  can’t  learn  the  skills? 

No.  Every child can learn.  It is my job to Find the best way  to communicate  the information so  that  it makes sense to the child.   I set your child up to be  successful  every  time.    I start  at  your  child’s  skill level and set her up for success every lesson.    

 

What other  benefits  do  the  ISR  lesson  experience provide students? 

Every  child  is  unique.  However,  many  parents  report  that  once  their  young  children  have  mastered  learning  to  swim,  the  resulting  confidence  in  their  abilities  engenders  a  positive  self-concept  that  is  often  demonstrated  in  other  aspects  of  their  personalities.  There are also  obvious health and other psychological gains. 

 

 

HEALTH AND SAFETY

How do you know there is no water going into  a  child’s  lungs?  Will a child aspirate  water  during lessons and have a dry drowning later?  

If  the  child  were  to  get  water  in  his  mouth  and  swallow  some,  the  epiglottis,  a  flap  of  cartilage  which  lies  behind  the  tongue  in  front  of  the  entrance to the larynx, closes by a reflexive action  over  the  tube  leading  to  the  lungs  and  prevents  aspiration  just  as  it  does  if  they  were  drinking  water  from a  cup  or a  bottle.   The  typical  child’s  anatomy  is  set  up  so  that  if  the  volume  and/or  speed  of  air/water  entering  the  throat  is  more  dense than air, then the epiglottis, by default, will  send it  to  the stomach and not  to  the lungs.   The  exception to this rule is if a person is unconscious  at which point the involuntary reflex of breathing  will take over.   Every child is regularly monitored throughout  lessons  to  ensure  that  he/she  is  not  taking in water. 

   

METHODOLOGY

How  can  you  teach  babies  and  young  children to swim?

ISR  instructors  teach  infants  to  swim  by  honoring each child's individual strengths and  experiences .  The understand the fundamentals of the behavioral sciences, child  development and of sensori-motor learning as  it relates to the acquisition of aquatic survival  skills;  they  use  this  education  to  guide  each  child  through  the  sequence  of  learning  to  swim and float.

 

Can you  really  teach  a  child  who  is  not  verbal how to swim?

Yes.   Consider  that children learn  to sit, crawl  and walk before they learn to speak.   Because  we  teach  through  sensori-motor  learning,  verbal  skills  are  not  required  for  a  child  to  acquire ISR Self-Rescue® skills.  We are able to  communicate with our students through touch  and  positive  reinforcement  while  striving  to  set  our  students  up  for  success  every  step  of  the way.    

How  do  you  teach  them  to  hold  their  breath? 

Breath  holding  skills  are  taught  in  the  first  lesson.  We shape  breath  control  using  highly  effective  positive  reinforcement  techniques.  We continue to reinforce these breath-holding  techniques throughout every lesson.    

 

How is  it  that  babies  can  learn  to  respond  to the danger of water when they fall in? 

A baby does not need to perceive danger or be afraid  to  respond appropriately  to  being  underwater.  If a  baby  has learned  to  roll  over  and float when he needs air, he doesn't need to  perceive  danger  in  order  to  respond  in  this  manner.  He needs skill, practice  and  confidence to calmly deal with the situation.

Can’t babies swim naturally? 

Unfortunately,  babies  cannot  naturally  swim.  If  this  were  the  case,  there  wouldn’t  be  so  many  drownings  every  year.  According  to  the  Center  for  Disease  Control  and  Accident  Prevention,  drowning  is  the  leading  cause  of  accidental  death  for  children  ages  1-3  in  the  United States.   

 

 

PARENT INVOLVEMENT

 

Do  parents  have  to  leave  during  the  lessons? 

 No way!    You  are  truly  the  best  cheerleader  your  child  could  have.    Your  positive  support  and  encouragement  is  invaluable  to  creating  an  effective learning environment for your child.  

EMOTIONAL RESPONSE TO LESSONS

How do the kids react during the first few lessons?

Children often fuss during the first few lessons because they are in a new environment and  around new people. As your child becomes  more confident in his/her ability in the water,  the fussing will decrease.  It is not unlike the first time you tried a new  exercise class, or were asked to perform a task  at work that you’d never done before: the first  time you try a new task it is always  challenging, until you get the hang of it. It is the same for your young child. Your child is learning to perform a skill that he/she’s never  done before.  

 

Will my  child  fear  the  water  because  of  lessons? 

There is  an  important  difference  between  being fearful, and being apprehensive because  you are not  yet skilled in a new environment.  ISR is not like  traditional swim lessons; it is a  drowning  prevention  program  that  teaches  survival  swimming.  Sometimes  as  a  parent,  you  make  choices  for  your  child’s  safety,  like  sitting in a car seat, because you know they are  important. The same can be said for ISR.     Once  competent in  their  skills, many  children  cannot  be  dragged  away  from  the  pool.  They  are having entirely too much FUN.     

 

WATER SAFETY   

What is the ISR position on floaties and life  jackets? 

Flotation devices give children a false sense of  security  and  hold  them  in  postures  that  are  not compatible with swimming skills. If a child  learns  that  he  can  jump  in  the  water  and  go  into  a  vertical  posture  and  he  will  be  able  to  breathe,  he  is  getting  the  wrong  idea  about  that  environment.  Flotation devices  are  for  children  who  cannot  swim.  Children,  who  cannot  swim,  should  not  be  allowed  to  learn  that it is safe to play in the water while relying  on a crutch. Life jackets must be worn in a boat  or  around  the  water  when  there  is  the  potential  for  a  submersion  as  a  result  of  an  accident  i.e.  a  boat  collision  or  capsize;  they  are not a  substitute  for  the ability  to  swim  or  for adult supervision. 

 

Does this program give parents a false sense of security and raise the risk of a  child drowning? 

In addition to educating infants and young  children, ISR also teaches parents that there is  "no substitute for adult supervision" and “No  child is drown proof.”  If a child needs his/her  ISR Self-Rescue® skills, it means what should  be several layers of defense have failed.  The  first goal is that the child is never able to  access the water alone.  ISR lessons are the last  line of protection such that, should all else fail,  your child has a chance at helping him/herself  by using the survival skills they were taught.  

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