My Name is Allison, I live in Bangor county Down, Northern Ireland, outside of Water babies I love spending time with my family, doing arts and crafts and having a nice meal out with friends (with some wine!)
I started my water babies’ journey as new mum with my little girl Alexa when she was around 10 weeks old. I loved the lessons and was in awe of my teacher. Her knowledge, her passion and the way she made the class feel at ease even through more difficult skills. I never thought that a baby swimming lesson could be so much fun! I especially loved that my teacher taught me to teach my little baby girl a life skill and made the precious bonding time we spent in the pool so special.
When I started lessons, I hadn’t realised that the lessons would take Alexa right up until she would be 5! I thought “amazing!” I can’t believe that time has come and went and that I am now a qualified Water Babies’ teacher of 4 years and Alexa, well, she’s going to be 7 soon! Oh, how time flies!
So how did I come to be a water babies’ teacher?
An opportunity came along for me to be a mummy helper at my local franchise’s photo shoots and MotherCare events which were very exciting, the hustle and bustle of new parents and mums to be was such a buzz. Then a Water babies Teacher Job became available in my local area and I applied. After many years in a Job I had enjoyed at Parliament Buildings Stormont, it now seemed different with long hours, and a little baby with milestones I didn’t want to miss.
The teaching hours seemed to allow me to gain more precious bonding time with my little girl and become like the teacher I encountered in my own baby swimming lessons. Just like she did with our classes, I was now able to share all the tools Water Babies has given to me with the parents that attend my classes. I am able to use what I learned from the teacher that taught Alexa and I in my own classes, and from what I was taught in my Water babies training to be the be the best, then better it!
Talking about Water Babies teacher training... Oh my gosh! What an experience! After 6 weeks of tip, tip, tapping into the wee small hours on my computer, attending lessons, shadowing qualified teachers and helping out in their classes I had completed the first part of the specially developed Water Babies diploma. I was now off to Head office to start my intensive training in all things Water Babies. This was a week of early starts, late nights, getting wrinkly spending so much time in the pool, laughing, crying but most of all receiving a lot of information from the very knowledgeable Helen, our tutor, with a little bit of help from her friends in aquatics.
Admittedly I found the amount of information somewhat overwhelming and had another wee stint at Head Office, a lot of encouragement from my franchisee and new colleagues to keep me on track for which I am very thankful. I then completed over 30 lessons from baby classes to toddler classes with a qualified teacher, some more tip, tip tapping on my computer, safeguarding, and lifesaving before completing my diploma. I was now ready to start my first lesson.
In my first class that I taught on my own, I was very nervous...
Would I remember the songs? Would I remember babies’ names? Would they enjoy my lesson? I had so many questions running through my head. I must have read over my lessons a million and one times. It actually went very well and the customers enjoyed the class! I got such an amazing feeling doing the class seeing so much love and pride and happiness, I remember thinking this is exactly where I want to be. I remember being forwarded emails about how much they enjoyed the classes and how I put them at ease and made them feel okay about their baby crying during class. It was amazing that they had took the time to do that and it gave me such a boost in my confidence. From then on, that was it. I’d been given what I need to know and the rest was down to me and my confidence which has grown so much.
When I was asked to write ‘What does a typical day look like for you?’ The answer is that there’s no typical day at Water Babies. That’s one of the great things about teaching here. I teach at four different pools and do five mornings a week. The night before I pack up my kit bags, lesson plans and swimming gear, remind myself of new skills on plans. Teaching day I set off to my pool get myself ready in my Blue and orange teacher uniform, pop out the toys on side of pool await the arrival of my classes. This when the fun starts and my favourite part of the job, interacting with the customers both the parent and the child. They are all different and who I like to think I treat as individuals, embrace as family.
You truly never know what the day will bring
A little while back when I’d taken over classes I came across a little boy, Freddie, who was terribly upset. His parents said that he had previously been in great spirits and loved his lessons, but something had changed in him – he was experiencing the ‘water wobbles’. As he did not yet know me, I set out to make connection with this little boy and his family, I did my best to take the pressure off what Freddie wasn’t doing encouraged praise for anything that he could do. With a bit of work from mum and dad, myself and of course Freddie he has now completed water babies as a very competent swimmer, and continues to swim in big boy swimming.
I love that in my Job I get to see every emotion in just one lesson all the while meeting really interesting people, young and old. I love to see the transformation in confidence from both the child and the nervous parent/ carer, from those fumbling first classes right to the confident swimmers and teaching assistants they become. It gives me an immense sense of pride in what I do.