There is nothing harder for a swimming instructor than having a child that will not put his head under water. After all, breath control with your face in the water is probably one of the most foundational skills in swimming. I began working with a little boy in April who still does not like putting his face under water, but we're making progress - little by little and the most exciting way to get him to blow some bubbles is to use the fairy tale The Three Little Pigs.
I love The Three Little Pigs. My parents tell me I insisted on listening to it all the way to Colorado and back when I was about 3 during a family vacation. I have no recollection of this, but I now tell them that they were building my literacy skills and I can use that fairy tale to keep this little boy mildly enthusiastic about swimming. Fortunately, my little swimmer likes the story too.
Once we've settled in, adjusted to the water, and done something that he wants to do, we transition to working on blowing bubbles. I look at him and say, "Okay, now we're going to be the 'Brave, Bad Wolf.'"
I begin the story, "Once upon a time there were three little pigs. The first pig built his house out of straw. The second little pig built his house out of sticks. And the third little pig, the smartest of the three little pigs, built his house out of bricks." At this point, I am standing, facing the little guy while he is playing on the stairs. Then I knock on the side of the pool as I say, "The Brave Bad Wolf went to the first little pig's house and said..."
My little swimmer pipes in, "Little Pig, Little Pig let me in."
I smile. Then say, "And the pig said..."
The swimmer says in a sing-song voice, "Not by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin."
"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow..." I pause to blow bubbles in the water and watch the little swimmer cautiously, blow out his bubbles for half of a second. "Your house in. And the wolf huffs and he puffs and he blows. Remember, you're the Brave, Bad Wolf now, so you blow again," I encourage.
In the course of about three minutes, we practice being the Brave, Bad Wolf and I get about ten bubbles out of him, which is a start. Fingers crossed that someday soon he'll be the Brave Bad Wolf who goes underwater, but for now I'm happy that he's the Brave Bad Wolf that blows bubbles.
Brandi Parsons is a freelance writer, book blogger, mom, educator, and authorpreneur. Her first book, Kidnapped Asylum, is now available as an ebook. She is currently working on her first nonfiction book, 10,000 Messages: How to Reach Inbox Zero in an Infinite Messaging World. If you're interested in Brandi's freelance services or to receive exclusive updates about her upcoming books, contact her here.