Every Monday there is a little boy in one of my swimming groups, he is around 3 or 4 years of age and his name rhymes with fit (which is really quite fitting). Every week he starts the lesson by telling me how he wants to be held while he swims and that he won't be putting his face into the water. If I so much as suggest that I would like to let go at some point or that he needs to put his face in the water, even if it's just once, he will start crying inconsolably, screaming for his mum. Of course I get that he's just a scared little kid but it's a super frustrating way to start the lesson every week. It also has a hugely negative impact on the other children in the group, who also start refusing to do things.
My frustration has been building for the last couple of weeks and then this week, straight after a huge crying fit, for some unknown reason he suddenly agreed to put his face into the water. For the first time ever! I have no idea why he did it, or what it was that I did or said - I wish I knew - or if it had anything at all to do with me haha. But for some reason he put his full face into the water and not only that but he kept on doing so all lesson! Plus on top of that, upon seeing him doing it, a little girl in the group also put her face into the water for the first time!
It was amazing. Truly, truly amazing! These are the moments that I teach for. The moments when these children who start off petrified of the water, start putting their faces in or jumping in from the side without holding my hands. This is what makes it all worth while.
It was such a huge breakthrough moment and it was made all the better for happening, just as I was telling myself that I would have to tell his mother at the end of the lesson, that he was becoming too much of a disruptive influence within the group. It also came towards the end of a long term - of working with know it all kids and children who are too scared to put their faces into the water, swim unaided or jump in from the side - when I am fast losing my patience for children who attempt to tell me what they will and won't do. It came at just the right time to remind me that it is the patience I have for children that makes me good at being a swimming teacher and at the perfect moment to help remind me of just how much I love my job.