Tuesday, September 1, 2009

ISR (Infant Swimming Resource)

This coming up weekend, Talan's water survival lessons (or swimming lessons are they are mostly referred to) will be coming to an end. Yes, our one year old takes a form of swimming lessons. As a matter of fact, he has been taking them since he was 10 months old. Yeah, that young ... I know! The program that he participates in actually teaches children from ages 6 months to 6 years, but being that it was February when Talan was 6 months old (hence it was cold), and being that the nearest instructor to us didn't begin classes until June, we had to wait a few more months but it was all the same to me.

To introduce you to this program, I will begin by allowing you to see the video that first captured my attention. Now I warn you, this video WILL take your breath away and will invoke every motherly feeling in you imaginable. It will be hard to watch at times, but just watch.

The little boy in that video is named Miles. He was 11 months old when that was filmed, and had only 3 weeks of ISR lessons prior to filming. You can read more about Miles, why the video was made, and his ISR story HERE.

So, what is ISR? ISR stands for Infant Swimming Resource. The first thing I want to say about ISR is that they do NOT teach swimming lessons! ISR teaches SURVIVAL lessons. Since this time yesterday, 11 infants and young children drowned in the United States. Another 39 fell into the water and sustained permanent brain damage. In approximately 19 states, childhood drownings are the #1 cause of accidental death for children under the age of four. Most of the states are Southern states. I live in Texas, one of those 19 states, and we just happen to have an in-ground pool in backyard. So again, it's not about the child learning to swim per se, but learning how to survive in the water. Children learn techniques such as floating, vocal techniques to grab someone's attention, and as they grow, they do learn more in the area of swimming, but they are also taught to have a respect for the water.

As I said, Talan began lessons in June. Upon registering him, we were given a Parents Resource Guide which contains great information from how we could possibly interfere with his training to first aid and CPR tips and techniques. For the record, my husband is CPR certified and I plan on getting recertified myself (I was certified in college).

The cost of lessons varies from place to place. For us, we had to a pay a registration fee, and the cost of lessons was $85 a week. Lessons were Monday through Friday, and we were given a scheduled time slot. Lessons last for 10 to 15 minutes. Okay ... I know you're like "Ten minutes, you have GOT to be kidding me?" The reason for this is to prevent muscle exhaustion. Your child is learning something new and they will be doing things that their body isn't used to, hence it is important not to overdue. Even within the 10 to 15 minutes the child is given a rest. ISR lessons are short yes, but much is learned within the small time frame.

Also, upon arriving to each lesson, we were given a BUDS form to fill out. BUDS stands for bowel, urine, diet, and sleep. The form helps the instructor to look at the physiology of your child and to create a unique and individualized lesson plan for them.

Parents are not allowed in the water during the lessons up until a certain period of time, towards the end of lessons, at which point parents are shown how they can continue to train at home.

(From one of Mr. T's first lessons. It's from a cell phone camera, sorry for the horrible quality!)

Talan's training lasted for 6 weeks, but depending on the child, they can last anywhere from a 4 to 6 week time frame. He was taught how to do a sort of stroke to move himself through the water and how to flip over on his back and float to rest and catch his breath. Once he mastered this, he was taught how to flip back over and stroke some more and then rest again. He was also taught, while in the float/resting position, to make some sort of noise as to draw attention. Most of the time he would call "mama" or "dada", as is probably natural with most children. This entire process is called the swim-float-swim technique.

Children first take lessons in a basic swimsuit. Upon getting the techniques down pat in their swimsuit, they will then have lessons fully dressed in summer clothing. After that, winter clothing. Why? Well, because majority of the time when children fall into a body of water, they are actually not in swimwear, but in full summer or winter clothing. Again, it is about survival. How it feels to swim in a swimsuit versus an entire outfit is a completely different feeling.

Now, I guess you wonder why Talan is just now finishing up lessons if the course was only 6 weeks. Well, Ted and I both work full time and though we do try to get in the pool with him whenever we can, sometimes we just can't. So, Talan takes what are called maintenance lessons twice a week to help him stay strong, and get stronger, in his technique. During these lessons myself (or Ted, whomever takes him to the class) are also taught ways to reinforce what Talan has been taught.

Next year, Talan will take refresher courses during the summer. It is recommended that ISR students take refresher courses every year to stay strong in their technique, but also to learn to adjust to any physical changes they have undergone. From one summer to the next, a lot of growth occurs in a child. The refresher courses help the child to adjust their training with their growth.

Let me say this ... no matter how much you train a child, there is no excuse for irresponsibility. As I mentioned we have an in-ground pool. Upon Talan starting to walk, one of the first things we got was a door alarm for our back door. We keep it locked at all times anyway, but just in case, we got one. We also got a pool alarm. Even with these things, we still are not going to take our eyes off our child. We put him in these lessons so that he will have a respect for the water and will know how to survive if he were to ever get into what could be a potentially dangerous aquatic situation. Children need to be supervised despite whatever knowledge they have in a particular area.

Thus far, Talan has truly blossomed with his technique. Whenever we get in the pool with him, it is amazing to watch what he can do. He can even sign "swim" and he will do his swim-float-swim technique and then do the sign when he finishes. Ted and I can't believe the progress he has made, as when he first started ISR, he was a bit weary of the entire thing and would tense up and whine and reach for myself or his dad. Now, he is just like a little tadpole. We are so proud and our family and friends (we have sent them little videos via e-mail) are absolutely amazed at what he can do.

I am so glad that I found out about ISR and the spread the word about it as I can. Many people are against teaching young children to swim, but as I said, it isn't really swimming, it is a survival technique. As the child progresses then yes, more swimming will be involved, but at such a young age it is all about survival. If anyone has any questions, then an e-mail address is provided on my sidebar to the left.

To learn more about ISR, click HERE.
To see more ISR video footage, click HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Wow!! That was hard to watch, but...how brilliant! Aren't babies just wonderful little miracles??

    Thanks for stopping by my post on MBC~

    Lisa @
    All That and a Box of Rocks