Watching and working with children with special needs participate in a "regular" daily activity such as swimming was rewarding. I first thought of how proud their parents must be to know their child is taking part in an activity. like swimming. The "mom" in me then thought about the trust the parents must have in the teacher and parapros. You could tell that the teacher and parapros were confident in their skills and safety concerns. Much collaboration already had taken place prior to the swimming class between the teaching staff, school administrators and parents. This was evident of how smoothly the class ran. Collaboration also existed between our classmates and the teaching staff of the students. We all had a shared goals and desired outcomes, first to make safety a priority, encourage the students in their skills and have positive interactions with the children while learning from one another.
This was my first experience to interact with children and aquatics. I felt a little uneasy at first. I can see how "knowing" your students, their personality and ability levels would make such a difference. I am impressed that several schools in this area have a swimming program for their students with special needs. Unfortunately, there are not any school districts in my area that offer aquatics. Hey, that gives me an idea, this maybe an opportunity to "collaborate" with others who would be interested in having a program in our area.
The hands on experience was great. The accomplishments I saw with the student Sam and Rachel was working with was terrific. They were able help a student leave her comfort zone of hanging on the side of the pool with death grips to floating on her back in the middle of the pool wearing a big smile. I thought about the confidence it lends to the students in their daily lives. Many children with special needs are aware that they are different in ways than their regular education peers. What a great experience it is for these children to get a chance to do "what the other kids get to do."
We as teachers, are also the ones learning and benefiting as well, how rewarding it is to work with children who have many challenges and persevere in their daily lives.