Co-founder Irene Madrid explains the advantages of learning to swim at LPB
Special to India Parent Magazine
La Petite Baleen began in the backyard
pool of John Kolbisen and Irene Madrid's
Half Moon Bay home in 1979. As public
school teachers, they were looking for a
creative outlet for their love of children
and the water. With three young children
of their own and several local families,
they developed an in-depth curriculum
and ribbon level system for their "Aquatic
John and Irene's developmental aquatic
program emphasizes a balance between
love and discipline, thus teaching not only
swimming, but also self-esteem and coping
Learning life skills through swimming
is our philosophy at La Petite Baleen.
Through progress reports, phone conferences,
newsletters and our knowledgeable
staff, we educate and inform parents as an
important part of our teaching team. We
believe that aquatic child development extends
beyond our swimming pools and
into the heart of our families' homes. In addition
to physical swimming skills, our
students learn emotional skills such as:
Listening to and following directions
Social interaction and team work
Respect for oneself and others overcoming
obstacles and facing fears.
Learning to swim is hard work, albeit
fun, and requires much effort. How much
a child enjoys this work and how rapidly
s/he progresses depends greatly on the attitude
of the parent(s). It is not only rewarding,
but also contagious when
children master goals in the swimming
pool (and in life!). By working as a team
with our parents and swimmers, our staff
takes great pride in guiding children through
the peaks and valleys of swim class.
Irene Madrid, one of the owners, attends
a conference every year on Learning
and the Brain. We are the only swim school
in the nation that attends that conference
and brings cutting edge material back to
curriculum. Other staff go to professional
conferences to share and learn. New information
keeps us all inspired to stay the
best swim school in our country.
Meet La Petit Baleen co-founder
Irene Madrid who in detail explains the
advantages of learning to swim at LPB.
India Parent Magazine (IPM): Can you
please tell us your philosophy and the basic
premise of the Summer Classes/Camps?
Irene Madrid (IM): Young children
learn best through "DOING." The
mind/body connection is strong and swim lessons are a whole body activity, yet gentle
on immature joints. The brain thrives
on novelty in a safe environment and the
feedback from the skin--the largest organ
in our bodies--is enormous for balance, enhancing
the immune system....and the
pure joy of moving through warm water
IPM: How do you think it's different from
other such camps?
IM: We were the first swim school in
the nation to develop such a strong child
development swim curriculum and the
curriculum manager and adviser are constantly
in tune with research on best learning
practices in the educational field. We
are leaders in our professional group when
it comes to curriculum and employee relations
IPM: What is your Child/Teacher Ratio?
IM: We have a 4:1 ratio in most of our
classes and a 6:1 in baby/toddler classes.
Advanced Swim is higher so we can give
good swimmers a taste of pre competitive
techniques. We also offer private (1:1) and
semi-private (2:1) class options.
IPM: Can you explain a little bit about
method of education?
IM: We introduce skills that are appropriate
to the most tender age, gently bringing
higher layers of skills over time. Music
in the form of songs attached to skills are
connected to baby/toddler classes because
music is a universal language,
highly recognizable. If there is a layer of
competency that a child does not fully understand
or can do, we back up for a remedial
layer until that child understands and performs before going back to the regular
layers of skills. This way of teaching makes
every child feel successful and competent
over time. It is all so gradual, children
learn seamlessly and naturally.
IPM: What is the daily schedule for a
IM: The daily schedule at LPB is a lesson
plan that encompasses a beginning,
middle and end, always keeping it fun, interactive,
reasonable and appropriate to
age and level of competence.
IPM: How do you deal with challenging
kids? What are your disciplining methods?
IM: With the youngest children, distraction,
silly games and songs, ritual activities,
cuddles and play bring out the best
in a swimmer. In baby/toddler classes the
caregiver may need emotional support
and we are there for them! At first we must
develop mutual respect ...and trust! This
takes time but once a child has been with
us a short time, they thrive and learn
IPM: What kind of background do you expect
from your teachers?
IM: We like to have teachers from all
kinds of backgrounds....but the key is that
they enjoy teaching and understanding children. A teacher may bring a new idea
to us and if it is psychologically and kinesthetically
appropriate, welcome another
approach to teaching.
IPM: How is the ethnic mix in your
camps? Do you welcome all?
IM: LPB is INCLUSIVE!!! We know
we are all part of the universal family of
People. Compassion, empathy and relationships
IPM: Do you think a well-rounded happy
child can be expected from your camps?
IM: Absolutely, children from our
swim schools leave not only with wonderful
physical abilities, but they make good
friends with everyone at LPB. As I said
previously, relationships are everything
and the mind/body connection is strongly
developed at LPB. We teach LIFE SKILLS,
coping skills through our swim lessons.
Children learn through doing so words are
not as effective when a child's pre frontal
cortex is not very developed for discernment.
WE are their pre frontal cortex and
create the safe foundations for skill sets.
IPM: Do you have any specific summer
IM:We are a year round swim school
because we know children learn best in a constant and consistent atmosphere so we
have no special programs specifically for
Summer. We began our Free Infant swim
program, where infants 2-6 months swim
for free, as a way to encourage the concept
of early year-round swim lessons to young
IPM: What is your message to our
IM: The message is simple: LPB is
PASSIONATE about our child development
curriculum and how it is delivered
to our children. We sincerely believe we
are the BEST program in the nation! We
are eager to grow and learn more about
education all the time and have a dedicated
staff that lives these messages.
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