A recent report is calling for more to be done by schools in order to see that children are able to swim and stay safe around water.
Swimming is part of the national curriculum but according to the Amateur Swimming Association many schools are failing to ensure that children have enough opportunity to become safe and confident in water.
But this raises the question; is swimming a priority, or even schools’ responsibility, when it appears that almost half of our primary school children reach the age of eleven unable to read adequately, according to a report from Save The Children? Do schools have time for all this? Or perhaps it’s more of a priority than some of the academic skills children have to practice that are not so useful in the world beyond school? And what about parents’ role in education?
Whether it is swimming, or reading, building competence and confidence requires far more time and input that schools could possibly give. What a child also needs is back up support, time and opportunity to practice and encouragement from parents. That’s true of elements of both their education and personal development, of which swimming might be considered part.
The subject of swimming is a good example to use to illustrate how learning happens. A structured, theoretical swimming lesson by a qualified teacher will teach the basic technique of swimming. But a real applied and useful ability, competence and confidence, in the real world of water cannot be ‘taught’ it can only be developed through continued experience and practice by the learner.
In fact, to develop any skills to a usable level, whether swimming or reading or maths, requires the continued activity of the learner, particularly in real world situations.
So we need to ask; how much time should schools give to this when they have so much to cover? And is this continued practice as much a responsibility of parents as of schools?
Schools cannot educate without parental support and back up.
It’s understandable that parents have felt increasingly excluded from their child’s education, both by schools and a system that has become so complicated in its learning approaches, that it feels alien to them.
But parents can offer something schools can’t; time and commitment to see that the skills their child learns within school are reinforced by practice and experiential use of them out in the real world. This is as essential a part of a child’s education as all that goes on in a classroom.
It is also one of the reasons home education succeeds so well; within their out-of-school approach, where there’s less time wasted, parents give children ample time to practice and reinforce skills and all the opportunity they need to transfer use of them to real living situations, helping them to mature.
School using parents can enhance their child’s learning in just the same way, by giving time and attention to the practice and development of skills that their children learn in school. This would take some of the burden off the schools.
Swimming presents the ideal case for parents to take up some of that responsibility to support their children’s education in this way. And that could equally be transferred to the practice of other skills like reading too.