The blonde little boy sat clinging to his father’s neck. His fearful body shook as he watched the other kids splashing and learning to swim in front of him. Clearly, he was terrified of the water. He had no intention of going anywhere near it!
Whether it was planned or not, I wasn’t sure. But it was definitely an advantage.He was the only child scheduled for the half hour lesson with the teacher. I sat watching as the young instructor chatted to the boy and his father. Then, he played with the little boy, coaxing him to ease himself closer and closer to the edge of the pool.
The blue, spiky ball was batted with a swimming board. It was kicked and it was splashed. The instructor laughed and made encouraging gestures. Then, he picked the little boy up and wooshed him gently through the water and allowed him to pull himself out immediately after. He did this again and again. The expectation was always real. He didn’t have to swim; he didn’t have to go under the water … He just had to take the first step in.
All the while, the string of trust between the two developed. It was almost as though one could plot the growth as the little boy slowly gave in to his fears, realising that he was in no danger.
It made me think about the children at school. Do they trust their teachers? Do they need to feel this trust to allow themselves to learn? Do we spend enough time earning the trust of our students and then proving that we will not let them drown?
The path for learning was slowly paved. I look forward to watching the interaction next week – and seeing how many minutes it takes to entice the child into the water and then start to swim.