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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Give Yourself a Chance

I am always amazed by the amount of effort that goes into helping children to learn to swim. Parents naturally start off with the dilemma of: to arm band or not to arm band.

The case for arm bands

Arms bands make parents feel safer about their child in the water.

The case against arm bands

In the long run, learning to swim without arms bands makes children feel safer in the water.

The next big hurdle is trying to decide if you are going to teach your child yourself or leave the teaching to a professional.

The case for teaching swimming yourself.

This is rather like teaching your spouse to drive. Enough said!

The case against you teaching your child to swim.

The professional will tell your child to put his or her face into the water. The child will obey. Your loved one won’t always do the same for you.

Then you come to the after lesson activities.

The case for the parents after a lesson.

“Come along dear. Let’s go and have some lovely chips. You must be so tired now.”

The case for the professional after the lesson.

“Well done. Drink your water and do your exercises. See you next week.”

Where then is the parallel of these observations with the eleven plus?

Your child will accept the teacher or tutor’s advice and professionalism. If you explain something you may be confronted by your child declaring to you there is a different method - that may be more difficult to understand - but infinitely preferable to what you have just said.

Getting outside help for the eleven plus examinations is rather like keeping your powder dry. You remember that years ago a soldier had to be very careful crossing a river because the powder could become wet. The professional swimming teacher will ask your child, very quietly, to swim a final length faster and with more enthusiasm. You, as a parent, will ask for a final push - and could be greeted by: “Do I really have to?”

However, and there is always a however, if you decide to coach your child yourself you will have your good times and your bad times. You will also build an incredibly strong bond with your child. You will have moments of great pleasure and joy. Just think of the excitement of being able to solve a complex problem together. Think of the companionship of working together and enjoying each other’s company.

It does not matter that you may not be as professional as the eleven plus teacher or tutor. You, as a parent, will demonstrate a fierce determination and will to succeed. You will also be incredibly understanding of your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Go for it. I urge you. You will never get the same chance again.

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