The city of Tucson’s Homeschool Swim program is held at the Edith Ball Adaptive Aquatics Center, a unique facility that has both an indoor therapy pool and an outdoor recreational pool. The class takes place in the outdoor pool, which features swimming lanes, a specially designed walking channel with a current, a zero-depth beach entry that gradually deepens to a 6-½-foot depth and an area with sprayground water features. The Homeschool Swim program was designed to meet the needs of home-schooled children in the metro-Tucson area. The class was planned not only to fit the physical education requirements of these children, but also to provide social opportunities.
Most municipal pools program their activities for adults and seniors during daytime hours, and do not offer programs for school-aged children during that time. The focus of the program is to provide home-schooled children a convenient and interesting morning class that is easily integrated into the daily routines of home-schooling families and to satisfy physical education hours requirements in the curriculum.
A Growing Demographic
According to the NationalCenter for Education Statistics, there are 1.1 million home-schooled students in the United States, increasing by 250,000 students since 1999. The Homeschool Swim program allows opportunities for those children to become active, assisting in personal-fitness goals, increased cardiovascular functioning and weight loss. The course is designed to present healthy living and exercise habits to students, using daily stretches and warm-ups to ease students into their workout.
In designing the curriculum for the swim classes, many types of water activities were integrated to allow students to experience all facets of recreational aquatics. The course description includes stroke development and refinement, as well as introducing students to various water activities and sports.
Home-schooling can also be an isolating experience for a child with limited outside activity or social interaction. The Homeschool Swim course seeks to promote community integration, increasing social interaction, improving self-esteem, and encouraging friendship development.
Educational components have included geography, math and science. For example, one lesson conducted with students focused on measuring the pH, bromine levels and alkalinity of the pool water. In a later class, students experimented with buoyancy, learning about density and surface area. In other classes, students played inner-tube water polo, navigated underwater obstacle courses, and competed in a “mini” swim meet.
Since its inception in fall 2007, the program has blossomed from two classes of eight to 10 children to four classes of 12 to 16 children, with all participants re-registering for the course. The massive growth in the class indicates its relevance to the home-school community. In the future, we are planning to expand the course to include the 13-to-15 age group, and modify the curriculum to better meet the individual abilities, needs and goals of our home-schooled communities.
Beth Lucas, CTRS, City of Tucson Therapeutic Recreation Supervisor, Andrew Reidy, City of Tucson Aquatics Coordinator, Matt Ritter, Edith Ball Adaptive Aquatics Center Water Safety Instructor, and Rob Saul, Edith Ball Adaptive Aquatics Center Water Safety Instructor, contributed to this article.