We all know what learning looks like. It’s a bald guy with glasses, sitting quietly in a tower reading philosophy or math and taking occasional breaks to sustain himself with sips of tepid water and nibbles of dry bread crusts. Learning any other way is a pale imitation of that ideal, right?
Of course not, but something close to that is what we expect when it comes to our kids’ learning. We want them to pay attention to the teacher. We want them to buckle down and concentrate. We want them to do it the way grownups do.
The reality is that even adults benefit from another kind of learning that yields better, faster results than the old school, ruler-to-the-knuckles style. What is it?
The Critical Component of Learning That Gets No Respect
What is this super learning tool, and how can you use it to teach your kids to swim?
It’s play. When kids—and adults, for that matter—play, they explore situations beyond what they’ve actually experienced, develop problem-solving skills, and create new neural networks.
When your kids are creating huge towers out of blocks, they’re learning physics. When they play princess or imagine being cats, they’re learning sociology and psychology. When they play with plants or bugs, they’re learning biology.
They’re also learning how to think, they’re learning about themselves and other people, and they’re creating friendships with the people they play with. Playing is a safe way for the brain to learn, because you can use your imagination without risk.
You can take advantage of this when you’re teaching your kids to swim by using your imagination to create games and ways of looking at the lessons you’re teaching that turn them into play.
Make improving form a game. Make getting from one place to another a race. Make learning a new swimming skill a secret mission. This isn’t just a chance for your kids to play, it’s a chance for you to play and a chance for you all to play together. What’s more fun than that? As a special bonus, they’re learning to swim.
If you’re out of creative ideas for teaching swimming skills, check this site every Friday for specific ideas.