Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Heard at the swimming pool yesterday...

An interesting conversation between the two teachers in Liam's learn to swim class. One was telling the other that one of the hardest things he ever has to do as a swim teacher is to tell a parent that their child might have something wrong with them. Obviously he's not a diagnostic expert on anything but I guess often swimming classes can be a first point where it becomes clear if a kid can't follow instructions, move their bodies well or is overly sensitive to noise/water/whatever.

I could empathise. I still find it hard as a professional who works with kids with these kinds of issues to suggest to parents who don't think anything much is wrong that they might need to go and get a referral for a medical check-up. Swimming teachers get no training in this kind of stuff, so I was impressed that they even attempt to tackle the task. In their case, the risk is losing the customer (and by extension, the money they pay) if the parent doesn't want to know about it, not something that I have to worry about in my comfortable government funded job.

After Aidan's junior squad session, the other swimming teacher approached me to say that he was doing well in the group, despite the fact that most of the kids in it are quite distractible. He has had a few issues with not listening over the past few months, so that was good. She said she could see he was (mostly) trying harder and that it was probably the fact that we were quite firm with his behaviour that was helping. She said she'd mentioned to another parent that their kid wasn't paying much attention and received the response "Oh, I don't really mind. I just want him to have fun." That did make me feel momentarily like I was a bit of a killjoy (something I often worry that I am with my kids) but it's not that I don't want them to have fun in the water. It's just that when I am paying every week for them to learn and develop some self discipline through their swimming, I expect them to do what the teachers ask them. But maybe that's a bit of an old-fashioned expectation these days??


Chris said...

Yes, its my money, he needs to behave himself. He needs to listen to people who are trying to teach him things. If he just wants to have fun, then he can go to the beach/swim in our pool for free.

Re telling the parents that something is wrong. I think the big difference is that when a kid comes to see a therapist in a professional sense, they already have an inkling that something is wrong. Somebody has already said that little Kjordayn is behind/having difficulty with something. The swimming teachers are making a callout of the blue- must be very hard to do. It would be interesting to see how accurate they are- now there's a study for you.

Chris said...

PS So long as you are celebrating with them when they do something right (even if its just because by the laws of probability they must do something right sometime), then its not being a killjoy.