Backfloat Baby: Little Kids, Big Changes

Children go through a tremendous amount of change in their first three years. Their capabilities, needs, and bodies transform from month to month. At Foss Swim School, we have structured our Backfloat Baby series of classes to reflect that rapid development and position children from the start to set up a healthy relationship with water for a lifetime.

If you’re considering a Backfloat Baby class or are nearing the end of the progression, you may have some questions about the program and what it teaches kids. Here are some that we have heard:

Do we really need to start swimming with babies? It seems like it’s playtime.

Our goal with our Backfloat Baby program is to give kids what they need. For the very youngest swimmers, classes do involve lots of games and parent participation, but kids are learning. They are learning is that water is fun, and that their parents are with them. Independent of any swim skills, the bonding that happens is invaluable. But it can serve a real purpose for swimming as well – we have talked with former Backfloat Baby students years later and have heard many say that they can’t ever remember having an intense fear of water. We think that’s a great gift to give a child.

Can kids remember skills they learn when they are so young?

The answer is yes, but they may not realize it. When you think about all the physical, emotional, social, and mental development happening in this age, you often have kids who are physically capable, but they aren’t yet able to remember detailed step by step directions. We focus on using play and games to make motions comfortable and familiar. A child can understand “humming bubbles” and “tiger paddles.” These build comfort and muscle memory. Later in their Swim Path they will learn details of technique and why a certain position might improve how they do a skill.

Why did my child take a step back in their later Backfloat Baby classes?

The exact reason may vary, but it usually comes back to their speed of development. A child may pass to a higher level where their parent is no longer in the water with them. Socially that may be uncomfortable, and so their skills may seem to regress – but often it’s just an adjustment period. Or they may have changed physically. We see kids who get taller but don’t add much weight, which can change their buoyancy. They need practice to align their skills with their new bodies. It’s very common and normal, and most kids do repeat a level every now and again.

Why did my child get placed in/skip the Backfloat Baby 4 level?

Backfloat Baby 4 is a level that relatively few kids take, and its an example of how the Swim Path is designed to meet kids wherever they are. For students who pass all the skills of Backfloat Baby 3 and are over 32 months but not yet 3 years old, there is a space where they don’t yet have the social or learning skills for a Littles class but do have physical ability. In Backfloat Baby 4, we have adapted skills designed for older kids and reframed them to teach a younger child. As a bonus, a child who masters skills in this level would pass to Little 3, bypassing Little 2 and progressing faster on their path.

What should I expect when my child moves on to the Little levels?

More growth, more confidence, and maybe more pauses to catch up. The teaching style changes in the Little levels, with more verbal education – describing what they should do – and more interaction with other students (but still lots of games and fun!) This matches where students are as people as they develop, but there will still be points where physical and emotional maturity might need a little time to realign. Parents think of these as regression, but if you stick with it, it’s just another phase in progression.

We hope this helps explain the value of the Backfloat Baby classes and shows the care we have put into crafting our curriculum. If you think you might be ready to get on the Swim Path with your youngster, enroll in a free preview class to experience it for yourself, or stop by your local Foss Swim School in person. We can’t wait to meet you!


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