Flotation devices such as floaties, inflatable rings, etc., often can provide a false sense of security for parents and children. These items can easily deflate or fall off your child's arm, leaving them in a potentially dangerous situation. Why invest money into ISR Self-Rescue swimming lessons when you are going to strap on a puddle jumper afterward?
Flotation devices also hold children in postures that are not compatible with swimming skills. If a child learns he can jump in the water and go into a vertical posture and still come up to breathe, he is getting the wrong idea about that water environment. Why would anyone want to think about breath control, horizontal posture, and opening eyes underwater when you can aimlessly bob up and down and expend little energy?
A fellow ISR instructor gave a great analogy by comparing our lessons and structure to your child innocently 'playing in a puddle jumper' by using sports as an example such as baseball. You spend time teaching your child how to swing a bat and he's doing a great job. Next thing you know he is putting his elbow up in the air while batting and causing a bad habit. You obviously can't let him continue without adjusting. Practicing that incorrect swing over and over would not be productive. What would happen during a game? What would happen to his confidence? We want him to practice correctly and succeed at that skill.
Flotation devices are for children who cannot swim. Children, who cannot swim, should NOT be allowed to learn that it is safe to play in the water while relying on a flotation device. Life jackets must be worn in a boat or around the water when there is the potential for an accidental 'fall-in'. They are not a substitute for the ability to swim or for adult supervision.
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