Avoiding the Controversy and Criticism: Survival Swimming Lessons

April 06, 2017 | JoAnn Barnett, ISR SMI
Tags: Infant Swimming Resource, ISR Controversy, Swimming Lessons

As the leader in the industry we pioneered more than 50 years ago, Infant Swimming Resource Instructors, staff, supporters, and clients are well aware of the criticism and controversy surrounding swimming lessons for infants and young children. As parents, we know no two children are the same, and as a result, the teaching methods that will work for one child, regardless of what is being taught, be it riding a bicycle, or potty training, may not work for every child.

From a behavioral psychology standpoint, the most effective teaching methods are those which focus on the feedback and/or responses of the student as that student makes approximations towards the goal be it potty training, tying shoelaces, or in this case? Survival swimming lessons. Unfortunately, much of the criticism and controversy surrounding survival swimming lessons, enveloping Infant Swimming Resource Lessons and ISR Instructors, is centered around the idea that survival swimming lessons for children under the age of 4 do not work on account of the common misconception that children under 4 are not developmentally ready for swimming lessons.


As one might imagine, ISR has seen a lot of different methods and theories purporting to get the same results and, in this context, much of the controversy and criticism is well founded. Group lessons, and in fact many supposed survival swimming lesson, fail to focus on the individual child, and that child’s response to the varying aquatic environment. In some cases, these lessons are wholly without a clear communication to the child either verbally in the case of older children, or behaviorally in the case of infants, of the desired outcome which can lead to frustration for the child, and certainly for mom and dad paying for lessons without an indication that their child is learning anything, despite the enormous effort put forth by everyone involved, parent, child, and teacher.

The solution to all of this? ISR Lessons, which are one on one, and completely custom tailored to each student...no two children are the same, so why should any two lessons be? Each lesson taught by a Certified Infant Swimming Resource Instructor builds on the previous lesson’s introduced skillset, and most importantly, is constantly adjusted to the responses of each student, in real-time. Examples of the efficacy of real-time adjustment can be seen all around us. In professional golf, for instance, even many top PGA ® Tour Pros will bring a swing coach with them such that the coach can immediately correct and give feedback regarding the most nuanced of differences, and that is for professionals who have hit literally hundreds of thousands of golf balls; it would make sense that for an infant with decidedly limited life experience, that having a professional watch and provide feedback, even if not verbally, when trying to learn a brand new skill in a completely foreign environment, would be the best approach.

In fact, ISR has provided more than 8,500,000 of the safest and most effective survival swimming lessons to more than 300,000 students worldwide. Thanks to their efforts in helping us to show parents everywhere that a moment’s inattention does not have to cost a child his or her life, more families than ever before know children as young as 6 months old can be safely taught how to save their own lives if they were to reach the water...alone. While the results of Infant Swimming Resource lessons certainly garner a significant amount of attention, what is harder to showcase, is the highly specialized method we use to achieve those results. This creates an environment in which all methods of attempting to teach skills similar to ISR’s are grouped under one broad heading survival swimming lessons which is an environment ripe for criticism and controversy to cloud an entire idea: giving infants and young children the skills they would need to save their own life in the water if the need arose; which, in light of the fact that drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of 4 in the United States, is dangerous.

It isn’t the skills at which controversy and criticism is leveled, but actually the way in which those skills are taught, and achieved, after all, who could say a young child knowing how to roll over and float without the help of mom or dad is a bad thing, or a bad idea? The good news is, there is a way to avoid the controversy and criticism of survival swimming lessons et al, and have your child learn the skills you’ve seen so many ISR students showcase on Facebook, YouTube, and international news outlets, and it’s easy: enroll your child with an ISR Instructor, and have confidence that your child is learning from an individual who invested heavily in both time, effort and expense in learning the safest and most effective way to teach infants and young children to save themselves in the water, and is supported by a full staff all working to make sure our next ISR lesson is our safest and most effective to date.