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  • What is ISR and how is it different from traditional swim lessons?
    ISR is the product of 50 years of ongoing development in the area of aquatic survival instruction for infants and children. ISR's primary focus is to teach your child to become a productive swimmer or floater in any depth of water. The goal of ISR is that your child becomes an "aquatic problem solver." ISR will greatly increase your child's chance of surviving in an aquatic accident, even when fully clothed!
  • How do you teach them to hold their breath?
    Breath holding skills are taught in the first lesson. We shape breath control using highly effective positive reinforcement techniques. We continue to reinforce these breath-holding techniques throughout every lesson.
  • If the focus is on survival skills, will my child learn how to actually swim?
    Yes. At ISR, we believe that swimming is part of survival for a child who can walk. Children learn the swim-float-swim sequence so that they can get themselves to safety. The difference in our program is that they will learn swimming AND survival skills and how to be an aquatic problem solver.
  • How do you teach babies and young children to swim if they can't even talk yet?
    ISR instructors teach infants to swim by honoring each child's individual strengths and experiences. They understand the fundamentals of the behavioral sciences, child development and sensori-motor learning as it relates to the acquisition of aquatic survival skills; they use this education to guide each child through the sequence of learning to swim and float. Verbal skills are not required for a child to acquire self-rescue skills. We are able to communicate with our students through touch and positive reinforcement while striving to set our students up for success every step of the way.
  • Why does it take 6 weeks for my child to learn this?
    The 6 weeks is an estimate that is based on the average time in which it takes most children to learn these survival skills. Every child is unique and ISR’s Self-Rescue program is specifically designed based on your child’s individual strengths and needs. It is important to realize that this is an average which means that some children will actually finish more quickly while others will need more practice. ISR is dedicated to safety and, therefore, we want to provide your child with the time and best opportunity to become proficient in his/her survival skills. We will always honor your child’s needs.
  • How do children react during the first lessons?
    Children often fuss during the first few lessons because they are in a new environment and around new people and they are being asked to learn something new. As your child becomes more confident in his/her ability in the water, the fussing will decrease. It is like the first time you tried a new exercise class, or were asked to perform a task at work that you’d never done before: the first time you try a new task it is always challenging, until you get the hang of it. It is the same for your young child in swim lessons. Your child is learning to perform a skill that he/she has never done before and lots of different emotions can come up, especially in the beginning.
  • Do parents participate in the water during lessons?
    We do not want the baby to initially associate the water with the love, attention and affection of the parent while in the water. Also, it takes incredible concentration and objectivity to teach the baby how to respond to an aquatic emergency and our research shows that parents often find it too difficult to be objective enough to be effective teachers with their own children in the water. However, parents do have an important role in lessons because you are truly the best cheerleader your child could have. Your positive support and encouragement is invaluable to creating an effective learning environment for your child. Once your child is fully skilled, we do encourage parents to get in the water for a lesson or two, so you can learn how to interact with your fully skilled swimmer.
  • Will my child fear the water because of lessons?
    There is an important difference between being fearful and being apprehensive because you are not yet skilled in a new environment. ISR is not like traditional swim lessons; it is a drowning prevention program that teaches survival swimming. Sometimes as a parent, you make choices for your child’s safety, like sitting in a car seat, because you know they are important for their safety not about how much fun it is. The same can be said for ISR. An ISR student may appear to be apprehensive about the water just because they respect the environment and know that it is a lot of work and they may just not be confident yet in their abilities. FUN can be defined as when SKILL meets CHALLENGE. Once they are competent in the water, their confidence can grow, and then many children cannot be dragged away from the pool because they are having entirely too much FUN.
  • Why are lessons 5 days a week for only 10 minutes each day?
    The reason for this is multifaceted. First, repetition and consistency are crucial elements of learning for young children. Research shows that short, more frequent lessons result in higher retention. Second, most children have fairly short attention spans and will not be able to focus on the task for longer and we want to take advantage of the best time for learning. A third reason is that, though the pool temperature is maintained at 78-88 degrees, the temperature is still lower than your child's body temperature. Lessons are work and therefore will also be losing body heat. Instructors check students regularly for temperature fatigue since this is an indicator of physical fatigue.
  • What qualifications does an ISR Instructor have?
    Each Certified ISR Instructor, completes a rigorous, 8-week in-water training and academic courses that include behavioral sciences, child psychology, sensor-motor learning, and more. They are all CPR and First Aid certified, with strict safety protocols to ensure that lessons are safe and effective. ISR Instructors also are required to participate in a highly specialized annual re-certification to maintain the highest level of safety and quality of instruction for your child.
  • Can't babies float and hold their breath naturally?
    Unfortunately, babies cannot naturally swim. If this were true, there wouldn’t be so many drownings every year. According to the Center for Disease Control and Accident Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-4 in the United States. Fortunately, self-rescue swim skills can be taught safely at an early age to help prevent drownings. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has found that “Participation in formal swimming lessons was associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning in 1 to 4-year-old children…” ISR has over 800 documented cases of children using their skills to self-rescue in an aquatic accident.
  • Why do you have children swim in clothes?
    Because 86% of children who fall in the water do so fully clothed, so we want our students to have experience with this situation. If a child has experienced the sensations of being in the water in clothing prior to an emergency situation, he/she is less likely to experience panic and will be able to focus on the task at hand. If you have ever jumped in the water with clothes on, then you know that there is a significant difference in weight and feel of the clothes as opposed to a bathing suit. However, we only have students practice in clothes after they can successfully perform their self-rescue skills first in swim suit.
  • Are swimming lessons even safe for infants and young children?
    YES! ISR is dedicated to safety and maintaining numerous safety protocols to promote safe lessons. Your child's health and well-being are our highest priority and are closely monitored on a daily basis. In addition, your child's medical and developmental history is a mandatory part of the ISR national registration process, all of which is held strictly confidential. All ISR instructors undergo an intensive and rigorous training that far exceeds any other training program of this kind. Each ISR instructor is also required to attend a yearly re-certification symposium that includes quality control as well as continuing education. Your education in the area of aquatic safety for your entire family is an integral part of your child's lessons. You will receive access to the "Parent Resource Guide", written by Dr. Harvey Barnett and JoAnn Barnett, which will inform you of every aspect of swimming for infants and children. With research, you will find that ISR is the safest survival swimming program but also the most effective for teaching infants and young children.
  • What is the retention rate with ISR lessons?
    ISR claims a retention rate of 94-100% up to one year following lessons. Having said this, children will explore and may pick up bad habits watching other children or with interference like floating in a bathtub or playing on the steps. As your child goes through lessons, you will begin to understand, through communication with your Instructor, what activities may interfere with his/her learned Self-Rescue skills. Contacting and/or returning to your instructor in a timely manner is imperative to maintaining effective habits.
  • Do you have some children who just can't learn the skills?
    No. Every child can learn. It is my job to find the best way to communicate the information so that it makes sense to the child. I set your child up to be successful every time. I start where they are.
  • Will my child need additional lessons?
    Based on our research, we know that refresher lessons are important because children change so much both cognitively and physically during the first 4-5 years of life. It is important that their water survival skills grow with their bodies. Frequency depends on the child's age, growth rate, skill level and confidence level. The goal of refresher lessons is to help your child adjust his/her new body size and weight to his/her existing skill level. Your instructor will work with your child to help fine-tune his or her aquatic experience to assist with building efficiency, which will result in self-confidence. This is especially important if your child has not been able to practice any appropriate aquatic skills between seasons.

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