- ISR says their priority is survival skills. Will my child learn to actually swim?
Yes. At ISR, we believe that part of survival for a child who can walk is swimming.
Children learn the swim-float-swim sequence so that they could 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.
- 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 skill between seasons.
- 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.
- Why do you have the children swim in clothes?
Because 86% of children, who fall in the water, do so fully clothed, we want our
students to have experience with such a 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 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 with clothes as opposed to a bathing suit.
- Why are lessons 5 days per week and for only 10 minutes?
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 loosing
body heat. Instructors check students regularly for temperature fatigue since this is
an indicator of physical fatigue.
- If more frequent but shorter lessons are better, then why don’t you teach 7 days/week?
Everyone needs a little break from learning to process the information and in this
case to give muscles a chance to recover. In addition, you need to be able to spend
time with your family, as does your instructor. Weekends are family time.
Periodically, if weather or other issues have cause lessons to be cancelled for
numerous days, your instructor may choose to offer make up lessons on a weekend.
This is strictly up to the instructor and based on the availability of parents.
- Why does it take 4-6 weeks for my child to learn this?
The 4-6 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 SelfRescue 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.
- Do you have children that just can’t learn the skills?
No. Every child can learn. It is the instructor’s job to find the best way to
communicate the information so that it makes sense to the child. The instructor sets your child up
to be successful every time. The instructor starts where the child is.
- Why should parents enroll their children in ISR lessons?
ISR parents are intelligent and enroll their children because they understand their
children’s abilities and want to give them every opportunity to learn. They also feel
it is important to teach their children how to help themselves should they find
themselves alone in the water. Research shows that there are better times to learn
certain things and swimming is best learned early in life. (Newsweek and Drowning
- What other benefits does the ISR lesson experience provide students?
Every child is unique. However, many parents report that once their young children
have mastered learning to swim, the resulting confidence in their abilities
engenders a positive self-concept that is often demonstrated in other aspects of
their personalities. There are also obvious health and other psychological gains.
- Are swimming lessons for infants and young children safe?
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
With research, you will find that ISR is the safest survival swimming program but
also the most effective for teaching infants and young children.
- How are you able to teach babies and young children to swim?
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 of 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.
- Can you really teach a child who is not verbal how to swim?
Yes. Consider that children learn to sit, crawl and walk before they learn to speak.
Because we teach through sensori-motor learning, 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.
- 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.
- How is it that babies can learn to respond to the danger of water when they fall in?
A baby does not need to perceive danger or be afraid to respond appropriately to
being underwater. If a baby has learned to roll over and float when he needs air, he
doesn’t need to perceive danger in order to respond in this manner. He needs skill,
practice and confidence to calmly deal with the situation.
- Is it the baby fat that makes them float?
Actually, the primary factor in a baby’s ability to float is the ability to take air into
the lungs. To maintain this access to air, the child must adjust his/her posture. The
difference in positioning for an adult can be inches. For a baby, this adjustment is
reduced to centimeters. If a child’s body posture is just a few centimeters off, it can
make the difference between the face being submerged or the child having access to
- Can’t babies swim naturally?
Unfortunately, babies cannot naturally swim. If this were the case, 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.
- Why don’t parents participate in the water during the 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 to be effective
teachers with their own children in the water.
- Do parents have to leave during the lessons?
No. You are truly the best cheerleader your child could have. Your positive support
and encouragement is invaluable to creating an effective learning environment for
- How do the kids react during the first few lessons?
Children often fuss during the first few lessons because they are in a new
environment and around new people. As your child becomes more confident in
his/her ability in the water, the fussing will decrease.
It is not unlike 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. Your child is learning to perform a skill that he/she’s never done
- 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. The same can be said for ISR.
FUN can be defined as when SKILL meets CHALLENGE. Once competent in their
skills, many children cannot be dragged away from the pool. They are having
entirely too much FUN.