Guided play is exactly what it sounds like: Giving a little bit of instruction to your kids and guiding them as they play. What it isn’t: Telling your kids exactly how to think, play, engage or respond while playing! In simple terms, it’s kind of like setting up a random game of baseball with the neighborhood kids instead of telling them to just “go play outside,” or tossing a bunch of craft supplies on a table with instructions to create “something” instead of a very specific craft.
We focus on guided play at Goldfish Swim School, which helps kids learn to swim while acquiring life skills – and having fun. It’s a part of what we call The Science of SwimPlay®!
The goal of guided play is to ensure kids are learning while they’re playing. They’re given a safe environment to explore, learn new things and understand the world around them – all while developing social, cognitive and emotional skills that gives them the self-confidence to dive right in to life’s adventures.
Key points to guided play include:
- Kids need to try new things out of their normal comfort zone and get used to dealing with new experiences and new people.
- This includes getting creative, inventing and brainstorming new ideas and contemplating the most appropriate and effective reactions to take.
- Problem-solving. Forming a hypothesis (even though they won’t know they’re doing it!) and testing out ideas helps kids learn to overcome obstacles without always being given the answers.
- Language expression. This is done by talking to themselves (or imaginary friends) and with others, during pretend and real scenarios.
How guided play works at Goldfish Swim School
At Goldfish Swim School, everything we do is done specifically to help kids grow in and out of the water. Our instructors use integrity, compassion and trust to do so in a fun way. And luckily for us, everything points to kids being able to learn the most through play…which we have down pat.
Key points of guided play incorporated at Goldfish Swim School:
- Sometimes it’s splashing on a floaty, doing a cannonball or diving to the bottom of the pool to grab a ring.
- Being with others. With three other kids in class, plus an instructor, kids have opportunities to interact with others – learning patience, social competence, language development and other social skills.
- Exploring new experiences. Whether it’s putting their faces in the water or swimming to the other side of the pool unassisted, kids learn to have confidence to try new things.
- Meeting physical and mental challenges. Each week, kids get stronger physically and mentally by pushing themselves to new limits, problem solving and coping with feelings. Plus, they feel pride from achieving those extraordinary results.
- Being shown how to do new things. We guide kids through play focusing how to do more and more each week, which enhances their thinking skills, creativity and imagination – and how to be flexible (physically and mentally!).
- Practicing and repeating skills. They think they’re still playing, but they’re learning skills to help them be successful in all aspects of life, like practice and repetition.
- Having fun. And that’s the key to it all: Fun. We have fun every single day at Goldfish Swim School!
How parents can facilitate guided play
You, as parents, can help your children make more sense of their world with guided play, too! Kids are naturally curious and want to explore (have you ever wondered if your child set a record for the number of times he or she asked “why?” throughout the day?). They want to play, and they want to learn – so why not learn while playing?
Key elements to incorporating guided play for parents:
- Make it fun. Sensing a theme here? Find ways to help your child make it enjoyable.
- Don’t think too much. There shouldn’t be any specific goals or prescribed learning, just key elements to explore. It’s more about the process, not the end result.
- Make it voluntary. Follow your child’s lead on what a fun activity will be, with the focus being child-initiated instead of parent-initiated.
- Don’t let your child just sit back; make sure he or she is actively engaged – but without dictating each step.
- Use imagination. Adding an element of make-believe helps kids with out-of-the-box thinking and creativity. (If you’ve ever wondered why our Monthly Celebration in October is Celebrate Imagination, now you know!)
Experience guided play at Goldfish Swim School
Celebrate how your kids will learn how to swim and other life skills during lessons at Goldfish Swim School! With our WOW! customer service and incorporation of The Science of SwimPlay®, you’ll have a GOLDEN experience every time. Find a location near you and stop in today!