Frequently Asked Questions
ISR is the product of 50 years of ongoing development in the area of aquatic survival instruction for infants and children. ISR’s primary focus is to teach your child to become a productive swimmer, or floater in any depth of water. The goal of ISR is that your child becomes an “aquatic problem solver.” ISR will greatly increase your child’s chance of surviving an aquatic accident, even when fully clothed!
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.
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 ISR Self-Rescue skills. Contacting and/or returning to your instructor in a timely manner is imperative to maintaining effective habits.
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.
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.
No. Every child can learn. It is my job to find the best way to communicate the information so that it makes sense to the child. I set your child up to be successful every time. I start where they are.
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.
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 and children.
With research, you will find that ISR is the safest survival swimming program but also the most effective for teaching infants and young children.
In March of 2019, the AAP updated its drowning prevention policy and lays out strategies to protect children at each stage of their life. According to the AAP, “Evidence reveals that many children older than 1 year will benefit from swim lessons. Swim lessons are increasingly available for a wide range of children, including those with various health conditions and disabilities such as ASD. A parent or caregiver’s decision about when to initiate swim lessons must be individualized on the basis of a variety of factors, including comfort with being in water, health status, emotional maturity, and physical and cognitive limitations. Although swim lessons provide 1 layer of protection from drowning, swim lessons do not “drown proof” a child, and parents must continue to provide barriers to prevent unintended access when not in the water and closely supervise children when in and around water.”
Further the AAP states, “There is tremendous variability among swim lessons, and not every program will be right for each child. Parents and caregivers should investigate options for swim lessons in their community before enrollment to make sure that the program meets their needs and the needs of the child. High-quality swim lessons provide more experiential training, including swimming in clothes, in life jackets, falling in, and practicing self-rescue.”
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 ISR 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.
Flotation devices give children a false sense of security and hold them in postures that are not compatible with swimming skills. If a child learns that he can jump in the water and go into a vertical posture and he will be able to breathe, he is getting the wrong idea about that environment. Flotation devices are for children who cannot swim. Children, who cannot swim, should not be allowed to learn that it is safe to play in the water while relying on a crutch. Life jackets must be worn in a boat or around water when there is the potential for a submersion as a result of an accident i.e. a boat collision or capsize; they are not a substitute for the ability to swim or for adult supervision.
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.
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.
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 before.
ISR Instructors are the most highly trained and qualified instructors in any swimming program in the country and must undergo strict re-certification testing annually. Each instructor is academically trained and tested in areas such as child development and learning theory, behavioral science, anatomy, physiology and physics as they relate to infants and young children in the aquatic environment to provide the safest lesson possible for your child. In addition, each instructor spends a minimum of 60 hours of hands-on, supervised, in-water training working with actual students. They are also CPR and First Aid Certified.