Learning 15 Mar 2016

Kindergarten Aquatics Programme

By Andrew Brent Chisholm, Lakeside Kindergarten PE Teacher
Photograph by CIS Communications

The CIS Kindergarten programme prides itself on three features of effective Early Years Education -- play, environment and relationships -- and our aquatics programme is designed with these in mind. The Kindergarten Aquatics Programme is a unique opportunity for students to learn a vital life skill using a play-based approach. The Aquatics Programme at CIS (Lakeside) is a blend of Physical Education units combined with scheduled Water Play classes that last the entire school year. CIS has two outdoor pools that the students have access to during their PE lessons to grow their confidence and build their skills in and around water. Beginner swimmers start in a shallow wading pool to play build their confidence before moving to our 50-metre Olympic size pool, which has different depths and platforms for all ability levels.

Having our own pool facilities allows the students to be outside in a safe environment, and thanks to Singapore’s consistently warm climate, students are able to use the pool the entire year. They are breathing fresh air and connecting with their surroundings, such as the Outdoor Discovery Centre right next door. Students become more excited and engaged when they have the opportunity to be outside and learning and the pools are another exceptional learning space for our Kindergarten students.

‘Play’ is essential for young children’s development, and learning to swim is an important life skill. The Aquatics Programme allows students to build confidence around water, which is the first step in any successful swimming programme. Students get the opportunity to play games, interact with their classmates and learn swimming skills while in PE class. During Water Play, they are given pool toys and encouraged to use their imagination and ‘play’ with their friends in the control environment of the wading pool. This naturally allows them to use their swimming skills such as submerging, kicking, floating and testing different strokes while strengthening their gross motor abilities. They feel safe, developing their confidence in the water, which ultimately allows them to have fun in the pool as they interact with one another and their teachers.

Water play has many benefits for young children and supports learning in many developmental areas. It provides children with opportunities to experiment with math and science concepts (such as measurement, floating and sinking, temperature, effects of force and states of matter). It strengthens their physical skills (such as running, splashing, hopping and wading) and hand-eye coordination pouring, squeezing, stirring and scrubbing). Water play also facilitates social and emotional development as students share materials, negotiate use of space and play cooperatively. They learn new vocabulary and may be inspired to write about their water play or swimming experiences. Water play encourages children to use their imagination and to explore problem solving and new ideas in a safe and engaging environment.