When Jo Wilson from AquaSensory first contacted me, I was a little bemused as to how swimming lessons could be relevant to an Early Years setting. However, once I got talking to Jo, I realised there are lots of things we can transfer from the way AquaSensory is taught and the way we use resources in a setting.
I’ve chosen my 3 favourite ‘transferable learning’ moments, but there are plenty more!
- ‘Bubble of Joy’. This is the way that Jo explains to parents how to be ‘in the moment’ with their child in the pool. It is all about shutting out external distractions and really focusing on being together in the water.This has so many parallels with good Early Years practice. Being able to focus together with a child on something, whether that is an activity or a toy, is the bedrock for Sustained Shared Thinking (those lovely in-depth conversations you share with children).Describing this as a moment of ‘Joy’ explains the pleasure of spending time with children. I would suggest this may be a precursor to Professional Love, as described by Dr Jools Page.
A ‘bubble’ is also a perfect word in this situation. How often have we just started to talk with a child, get something out, discover a worm – when this ‘bubble’ is burst by an interruption? They really are delicate moments to be enjoyed when they happen and appreciated for their fleetingness.
Having a ‘Bubble of Joy’ moment is great for children’s learning and development, as well as being joyful for everyone involved.
- Connection. Jo suggests that being in the water, especially with very young children, increases the connection between parent and child.This is very similar to the way we may describe bonding or attachment in Early Years pedagogy. Of course, in the water, the baby or infant is depending on the parent to ensure their physical safety in a very direct or immediate way.Connection in a setting is more about finding out about children’s likes, needs, interests, families and wider community.
But practitioners also have a responsibility to keep children emotionally safe by checking those connections sensitively and regularly, whilst giving them the freedom to grow and develop – just as you would hold a baby in the water, but allow them to splash and move independently within that grasp.
Of course, we need the data connections with families such as phone numbers, allergy information and so on. But making that true connection is noticing a child who is a bit quieter than normal, or if friendships seem a bit strained or knowing extra support is needed prior to a transition.
Those kinds of social and emotional connections, where we hold the child in our thoughts, are just as important as the physical connection when we hold a child safely in the water.
- Skin to skin contact. By the very nature of being in a swimming pool, there will be skin to skin contact between parent and child. Jo highlights this as one of the benefits of swimming.In the Early Years sector, there has been much discussion over cuddles and contact between children and staff. These have ranged from Cuddle Policies to how it affects the epigentic mechanism and DNA to the joys of ‘snuggling up’ to share a story.There is growing evidence that skin to skin contact has many benefits, from better breastfeeding to more positive behaviour patterns.
Although this debate has been around for a long time, hearing Jo talk about how she can see the benefits of parents carrying babies close to them in the water, taking time over getting children changed to swim and enjoying cuddles together, reminded me that it is such a simple, human action but it is so easily forgotten in the busy-ness of the day.
Those are my top 3 ‘Hmmmmm’ moments, but Jo has plenty of other pedagogical ideas to share in her video on Early Years TV.
Watch her episode here for free from 11th to 18th October. Or you can join Early Years TV Premium Membership here for full access to the video for as long as you are a member – and a personalised, downloadable CPD certificate for every video you watch.