Our Teaching Philosophy
A Background in Swimming
My name is Clare Foskett and I run Turtles Swim School and the Tiny Turtles swimming lessons. I’m from a family of swimming teachers, coaches and competitive swimmers and open water swimmers. I have always been a swimmer myself, and I have been a qualified swimming teacher for over twenty years. I studied Psychology at University and went on to train in Primary Education at The Institute of Education before working as a class teacher at a local prep school for six years. When I had children myself, I decided to incorporate both my teaching experience and passion for swimming to develop the family swim school and start Turtles.
I know how to engage children and make learning to swim enjoyable, but having been a competitive swimmer myself, I also know what constitutes good technique – I can set the foundations for good strokes.
Joyce and Cliff Cahill teach with me on Sunday mornings at Underhill School swimming pool. Our lessons are popular and engaging, and we teach small groups with an assistant in the water where needed to ensure good results.
Our Unique Approach
to Baby Swimming
We incorporate songs, games and repetition into our classes, and give you and your baby opportunities to play and enjoy the water and each other during your time in the pool. Your half hour with your little one is an important time to be spent one to one, and a wonderful chance for plenty of face to face connection and skin to skin bonding, with the benefit of a qualified and experienced instructor on hand to offer advice if you need it.
Play and water confidence are crucial to your baby’s swimming, but technique will also be important as they start to progress to swimming on their own. Through years of teaching older children and adults to swim, we know how to begin to guide your little one to develop the technique they’ll need in the long run in order to be fantastic swimmers.
Water Confidence for both Parent and Child
A baby’s introduction to swimming should be all about enjoyment. A baby can sense how confident the adult they are with is feeling, and if the adult is anxious about any part of the lesson the baby will quickly worry that there’s something to fear. We can teach you how to teach them and help you to develop your confidence around water.
Readiness is when they do it
As every parent knows, a child will develop at his or her own pace, both in the water and on land! Countless studies have shown the benefits of letting a baby progress in their own time – this is how they learn coordination and ease of movement. We emphasise the importance of respecting what your baby is ready for and not forcing them through a set lesson plan, which can lead to apprehension and a fear of the water or swimming environment – we will help you encourage your little one and know when they are ready for the next steps. There is no rush or pressure, and there are no age-related milestones. You and your baby will get there in your own time.
Why is it SO IMPORTANT that your baby learns to swim under water?
It really isn’t important at all! A huge industry has built up around baby swimming, and as parents we have been made to feel that it’s expected that little ones should go under the water. Some swim schools introduce under water swims from lesson one, promoting the philosophy that children will grow up water confident if they have early experiences of submersion and encouraging the idea that submersions are essential for teaching water safety. They push the idea that babies have come from being immersed in the womb and point out that babies reflexes mean being under the water a natural state. These swim schools and franchises make a fortune from their techniques, and from the underwater photo sessions they sell to the parent at the end of each term. It all creates another “milestone” for babies and another pressure and expense for parents.
We take a different approach. As humans, we don’t learn to swim beneath the water – we learn to swim on top of it! Everyone is different, and if you want to learn how to put your baby under, we’ll certainly show you the safest methods for doing so. But it’s not something we expect every baby to do, so it doesn’t form the basis of our lesson plan. We focus on a much more natural, child-led approach, with little swims and plenty of floating work to help babies and toddlers feel at home and confident in the water, and to strengthen that bond in the water between parent and child. We make time for play, and time for you to explore the new holds and moves and the swimming pool environment with your child. Our lessons are full of happy babies who do spend time under water – they’re soaking wet and smiling – but that doesn’t mean an adult has dunked them below the surface!
When you enrol, pick the class that best suits your child’s needs. If you tell me a little more about any previous swimming experience in the box on the enrolment form, I can advise you on which class would be suitable. I find it is better to put your child into a lower class and promote them than the other way around!
All you need is your swim suit, towel and goggles if you wish to wear them! We will provide the rest.
Goggles are most definitely a personal choice. If your child can wear them without being distracted by them during the lesson, they can be really helpful. It is best to buy a pair that fit well and practise putting them on in the bath to get used to how they feel and sort out any leaks.
We don’t offer any make up classes. If you or your child miss a class due to holiday or sickness or for any other reason we do not offer a refund.
We assess children week by week. If they have met the criteria, they could be awarded a badge and certificate at the end of the term. We will let you know how to buy the award when we send you your renewal details.
We teach eight pupils in Tiny Turtles a classes, with a parent in the water for each child. Turtles One (our beginner class) has an adult:child ratio of 1:4, and our more advanced swimmers are taught in groups of up to eight.
Absolutely not. You and your baby can take things at your own pace and we don’t teach adult-led submersions.
We don’t have the spaces to offer Pay as You Go classes – every course is booked termly. Your lessons are confirmed when you pay the balance or set up a direct debit plan for your classes.
It is generally less overwhelming for your baby if one parent comes into the water – babies are often very distracted with two adults to pay attention to.
Term Dates and Fees
Classes run between 8.25 and 10am on Sunday mornings at Underhill School Pool