Swimming in Gym Class

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Andy, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I am so totally against putting a bunch of 7th and 8th graders into a very deep swimming pool during school hours and calling it gym class. The most dangerous intentional thing the school can do for a kid who has very little skills in the water. I believe I have the right to keep my kids from that scenario especially when there are other "gym" activities at the same time that they can join instead.

    So, last year I wrote a letter demanding that my child be excused from gym (getting a doctor's order is stupid - I want him out, don't need a doctor's order) I had to write another one this year (same school, same staff, just can't remember to look into their records to see that my stance is going to be a forever one.) Both were very strong on my position.

    difficult child told me that one teacher grilled him about it last fall and that another teacher keeps telling him that he HAS to go in the pool. The teacher who received the letter is continously telling this other teacher that no, he has a note. So the world of gym goes on.

    Today difficult child texted me asking me to call and talk to a certain teacher because he felt he would be forced by her to go into the pool. I got her voice mail and left a very stearn (yes, probably rude) message that under no circumstance is she to tell difficult child to go into the pool. I was very upset and picturing a teacher arguing with him as I made the call.

    So, this teacher calls me back and says, "I take offense at that message! You could have been more polite!" (In my professional office, if I received a call from an irrate emotional person, I do not answer on the offense. For the record, I would try to calmly explain what happened and apologize for any misunderstandings). I explained that I am sorry it may have been rude but that I was in panic mode because I needed to reach someone ASAP (difficult child was heading into gym class) and all I could do was picture someone harrassing him over this.

    She says, "We have not made him swim for 2 years, why would we do so now?" "How many gym teachers do you have?" "3" "Do they ALL have the message?" "Yes" "Well, we are not getting that feeling since there is one that has given him a bad time and another who is continously telling him he has to go in." "Who is that?" "It doesn't matter (I don't narc on other teachers)" "Well, we all work together."

    She then asked why I won't let him swim. Hmmm, because I do not like that pool, I think it is dangerous. Besides, he does EVERYTHING else in gym, I should have the right to draw the line here. "Does he know how to swim?" "He is working with a relative, knows a little but not enough for a pool built deep enough to allow diving!" "Well, we could teach him!" "No, he does not need to learn at school!" "You are doing him a disservice but that is your call as a parent." "Yes, it is my call and we can live without enterring THAT pool with dozens of other 7th and 8th graders." (Those kids can be so mean - I can imagine the degree of harassment that goes on in the pool)

    So, difficult child calls me later on. I asked him why he thought he was going to have to go into the pool. His answer, "Because the lady you called is ALWAYS telling me that I have to and then the teacher I gave the note to tells her that no I do not. The teacher I gave the note to is gone today and the substitute says I have to go in if SHE says I do!" I told him that she has finally got the word strong and clear!

    Maybe she will remember him from now on and stop confronting him about going swimming! I think it is much better that he does the other activities that are going on. I am a little glad that my message was very stern even if a bit rude!

    Gee, maybe I should get a job at being a student advocate. I can be strong enough to make the schools listen to the parents!
  2. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Maybe this should be moved to the watercooler?
  3. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    Andy, I agree with you totally. As long as difficult child is meeting his other "required" gym curriculum the pool has no measure in my humble opinion.

    School pools are also targets for overweight kids to be tortured !

  4. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    When I was in 1st-8th grade, the Catholic school I went to had a pool.

    I never learned to swim properly... But I loved it. I still don't swim well - worse, in fact, now.

    BUT - this is too much. I think you did great!
  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think it can stay here in General - it is difficult child related.

    Good for you for sticking to your beliefs!
  6. cubsgirl

    cubsgirl Well-Known Member

    I agree with you. If parents say "no" then the school should abide by that. I know that when I was in fourth grade we all had to have swim lessons once a week...the overweight and those who already had "blossomed" physically were mocked. Not nice. not fair. Considering he is not a swimmer, you are doing the right thing to hold him back on this if you consider it will impact him negatively.

  7. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    While I doubt that they just toss the kids in the deep end, you should have the right to prohibit your son from participating in that portion of gym class.

    However, I would strongly suggest that you get difficult child some intensive swim lessons. I cannot image being unable to swim at 14. Add in the fact that the majority of kids he knows have been taught to swim in pe class, it is quite likely that he will end up around water with everyone swimming and whether through peer pressure or taunts/dares, he may literally jump in over in head. Swimming is a life-saving skill. It is definitely one of my "A" basket issues.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    In Australia we have compulsory swimming classes in elementary school. A lot of time is spent on it - it's not just a gym class, in fact towards the end of the school year, the kids can spend half of each consecutive day for several weeks, being taught swimming at the nearest swimming pool. Several grades go, learning at increasingly complex levels right up to lifesaving grade.

    On the subject of kids torturing others at school swimming pools, husband has an interesting memory. He attended a farming high school, the school was very large and had a working farm on it, operated as part of the lessons. Someone decided it would be fun to hook the electric fence up to the urinal in the boy's bathroom at the school swimming pool. The urinal was stainless steel and there was another piece of stainless steel that boys stood on in front of the urinal. With the urinal itself 'live' and boys standing there barefoot, wet from the swimming pool, as they began to empty their bladders they completed the circuit. Imagine a "kazang" hitting you right where it hurts. Initial reaction is "What the...?" followed by re-starting the flow. Kazang!! again, harder this time, because successive voltage shocks always feel worse (neurological recruitment) and they would work it out.


  9. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Kids are not taught how to swim in our schools. If the school wants the kids to know how to swim, than it should be offered at a very young age - a program like Marg's would be acceptable. For now, kids are to learn on their own and take swimming just one time per quarter or semester in school (like maybe 5 - 10 days top). No way is any kid going to strengthen their swimming skills on this schedule.

    I am sure they do not "teach swimming" no matter what they say. One teacher watching 30 + kids in the pool can not be concentrating on teaching someone to swim and keeping an eye on the other kids' safety at the same time.

    difficult child does have some swimming experience and does well when there are not 30 - 50 young teenagers in the pool messing around with only one or maybe two at the very most teachers watching. Not enough eyes on the pool!

    My main issue is the number of kids that are in the pool at the same time. Just not safe no matter how strong a swimmer the kid is! 7th and 8th graders can and do cause a lot of harm to each other no matter where they are congregated and a pool is a very dangerous place to allow this unchecked harrassment of each other. Even kids just goofing off with their friends have to be watched. Kids this age do not think before they act and stupid behavior causes harm even if not intentional. I am not allowing my child to become the first fatality or major injury in that situation.
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You handled that very well, in my opinion. I HATE it when teachers tell parents that they are not doing something when clearly they are. I believe your son over this teacher completely. The way she handled your call by being confrontational shows that her people skills need a LOT of work, in my opinion. NOT the way to handle an upset parent.

    WHY do teachers think that they know if you are doing a disservice to your child? They see your kid for an hour maybe once a day but they have 20-30 other kids in the room at the same time. They don't get to know your kid, esp not in a gym class. Not only is the pool situation ripe for bullying, this is the kind of teacher who wouldn't even try to make the bullying stop. Who might even join in if it was about a student being overweight because "it is the truth so it can't be bullying". The pool sounds very unsafe, esp because the teacher is going to focus on the loudest group and not pay attention if a student got into trouble until it went too far. It is why a pool is supposed to offer lessons in SMALL groups, maybe up to 7 kids. NOT entire classes all at once.

    You ROCK, Warrior Mom!!!!!
  11. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I support you completely. It is your call and you made it. on the other hand, I found a private swimming teacher to teach difficult child how to swim for his own safety. The one on one instruction was the answer as he did not have a bunch of kids watching him. I think you should check into it. It will enhance difficult child's self esteem and protect him from unexpected problems when near water. Good job. DDD
  12. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Thank you! Just to assure you, he is getting swimming lessons and can swim a bit. I just wouldn't want any of my kids regardless of their abilities to be put into a pool with a very large gym class. Even if he was a champion swimmer I would be against swimming in this situation. He can enjoy swimming in smaller pools in a small setting of family and friends. If he goes swimming at a beach, he will only be there with friends who will be watching out for each other. Kids in a pool with 30 + other kids get easily distracted and don't pay attention to each other so someone in trouble would be less likely to be seen than in a smaller setting. And the noise in the pool room is soooo loud, there would be no way for the teacher to distinguish a real scream for help over a loud laughter of someone accepting their friends goofing off.

    He also is not overweight. If anything, he is closer to being underweight. However, I know that even kids underweight or just the right weight will be harrassed. Mean words don't always match the real size of the person they are targeted to. (Diva would have had to face that ridicule of being overweight if she had gone to the public school)

    There is enough meaness going on before and after school and at lunch and recess with very limited supervision - don't need to add a pool situation to that.
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Glad to hear it. DDD
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I also want to explain, Andy, that Aussie school swimming classes are actually not taught by the teachers. The teachers take the kids there and help supervise, but once the kids get to the swimming pool complex, they are assessed for swimming ability level and broken up into appropriate groups. Some of the groups can be large, but the biggest I recall would have been about 15 or so. Those who can swim unaided get into the deep end of the pool, carefully supervised, and work towards the fun tuff of lifesaving, jumping in fully clothed, retrieving bricks from the bottom of the pool and so on. Those who are able to swim a little but are unsteady and only can manage a few strokes, are started with the beginners - in the baby pool, about knee deep. They learn to walk on their hands and feel the water lifting them. They graduate form there to waist deep water (waist deep on them, not the teacher) where they get kickboard practice and learn to put their faces in the water and blow bubbles. They are taught Australian crawl" which I always felt was not as effective - I learned to swim only after I taught myself breast stroke. I did the same with my boys, they did not cope well with the crawl.

    The teachers are fully trained in teaching swimming to children and each of the groups I describe has a separate teacher. There are up to five groups, each one staging a little bit more. The kids go every day for two weeks, each day's lesson being about half a day. They get certificates for progressing from one group to the next. The groups might be called tadpoles, pelicans, cormorants and so on through to sea eagles. It's been a while, I'm a bit rusty on it. But every year towards the end of the school year, I drive past the local school kids being escorted to the ferry to catch the boat to 'the mainland' where the local saltwater swimming pool is.

    Andy, what you have described is not only barbaric, it is dangerous, especially since this teacher is clearly saying one thing to you and another to your son. I would check with him to make sure she is not victimising him for the sins of the mother. It seems to be something about sports teachers - some are wonderful, but when the teacher is a bully, most often it is a sports teacher. If you can, ask a 'spy' in the class (another kid) for their description of events. And never, ever reveal your sources to school staff.

  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Marg, what you describe sounds like what happens in community pools when they offer group lessons in the summer. Most schools here don't have pools. If there is a swim or dive team they are organized by the YMCA or the school and the school uses the YMCA or community pool.

    Andy, you are right - that is a very unsafe situation. My aunt has taught swimming for over 40 yrs, and phys ed for at least 20 and there is NO way she would ever allow that situation to happen. If it did, her kids would not be in the pool - and her kids have been swimming since before they could walk.

    WTH is the school thinking to allow this?? I hope no one gets hurt there. It will be God protecting children and fools if nothing happens.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We can access the same thing (it's the same organisation the school subs to) in summer holidays and on summer weekends. Maybe it's because so much of Aussie settlement is near to the coast, that our government insists on kids being taught how to swim. it's compulsory in schools but also strongly encouraged in the community. difficult child 3 even went to a special swim class for kids with disabilities.

    it is a far cry from chucking a class of 30 or more kids with widely varying abilities into the same pool, with inadequate and bullying supervision.

    Andy - you can borrow my steel-capped boots. Also, feel free to share with them, the Aussie method. tell them that when they put something like that in place across the country, you will comply. Until then, you know your own child best and he is NOT to be bullied and you are NOT to be lied to. You have your sources, and it's not just your kid. Let the teacher chew on that one.