We’ve got some great hints and tips to help you manage your little one if they’re concerned about having a different swim teacher, if their usual teacher is away or you’ve booked a make-up class with a different teacher.
We know what it feels like when you discover your child’s usual teacher is absent, to be on the receiving end of having change thrust upon you with little or no notice. We experience similar feelings because we’ve got the stress of finding a substitute teacher.
But we rise above any yukky feelings because we’ve got a job to do and a responsibility. The last thing we want to do is cancel a class and hinder your child’s learning, and we hope you won’t cancel the lesson either.
Partner with us
We are on the same side, so let’s join forces. We often say our teachers are superheroes, but we know parents are too.
If your kiddos are very attached to their swim teacher, your superpowers will be invaluable when managing their anxieties. And kids often take cues from their parents, so if you’re optimistic about the sub, your little fish will likely follow your lead.
Our Aquabliss superheroes, with their child-whispering magic powers, will always be there to help you and your little one should they have a meltdown. (It can happen to the best – even us!)
Hints and tips
We know each child is different. Yikes, even the same child can be different depending on how hungry or tired they are! So, some of these suggestions might not work on some kids or might work one day but not on another! You know your child best, but we’re confident you’ll find something to boost your superpowers.
1. Talk about change
When there’s advance notice of the teacher change, for example, your child’s regular teacher has planned a holiday or needs to sit exams, use this advance time to talk to your little one about the change and why it’s happening.
2. Use similar experiences
Try and relate a similar experience. For example, if it’s because a teacher will be on holiday, you could talk about your family holiday and how that created a change for the swim teacher because your little one wasn’t in swim class. Try and evoke empathy by discussing how their teacher deserves a holiday too.
3. Safety in numbers
Feeling alone can increase a child’s fear, so explaining that all students will be experiencing the same thing, including the substitute teacher, might help. And remind them that you, or another parent/guardian, will still be poolside watching out for them, so they’ll never be alone.
4. Demagnify the change
Talk about what will be different but also emphasise what will be the same. The pool will be the same, and the classmates will be the same. Yes, the teacher will be different with a different style and personality, but the lesson will be the same. The sub is just another friendly Aquabliss qualified teacher, trained to deliver the same Aquabliss curriculum.
5. Use positive verbal and body language
When you arrive at the pool, communicate the change positively, and be excited for them:
- Wow, you’ve got a new teacher in class today. That’s exciting. I bet they’re also excited about meeting you and your classmates. Maybe you can help introduce your friends to the new teacher
- Hey, you’ve got a different teacher today. Come on, let’s see if we can work out who she is. What do you think she looks like
- Your swim teacher is away sick today, and she doesn’t want you to miss a lesson. We can help her feel better by practising those skills she wants you to master
- Mr Arun is away today, but this new teacher can help you. Imagine how surprised and happy Mr Arun will be when he returns and sees how much you’ve improved
Whilst it’s good to give children a choice, to help them feel more in control, we don’t recommend saying, “it’s ok, don’t worry, you don’t have to swim today if you don’t really want to.” Making swimming non-negotiable provides a good lesson for children to learn that sometimes in life, they’ll have to do something they don’t want to.
And remember, kids take their cues from you. So in front of them, no “damn, a different teacher”, said in a negative tone, with big sighs and rolling eyes. Pull out your best Oscar-winning performance if you have to.
We aren’t saying don’t complain to us if you’re unhappy about the teacher change. We understand because we are in the same boat. We prefer not to have teacher changes either. It creates extra work and stress for us. We’re just suggesting that we partner up and both put on a positive face in front of the kids, and we deal with any issues behind the scenes.
6. Offer comfort
Be supportive. Listen and reassure them. Treat any negative feelings with openness and kindness.
And normalise whatever your child may be feeling. Assure them that change is part of life.
One way is to check their feelings and then reflect on what you’ve heard, “I hear that you’re feeling scared; that’s understandable”. Then discuss a situation when you felt the same and what worked for you.
Rest assured, we are always here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. And if you’ve got any valuable hints and tips, let us know; we’d be happy to share those with other parents like you.
You may also be interested this article, which outlines some of the positives a substitute teacher has to offer you and your child.