Frequently Asked Question

What is the ISR technique?
 The ISR technique is a unique method of teaching children from 6 months to 6 years of age survival swimming skills that they can use to survive an aquatic accident.

What skills will a child learn in ISR swim lessons?
Children 12 months and under learn how to rotate from a face-down position in the water to a back float. A baby will be taught to rest and breathe on his back until help arrives. A child who is twelve months or older will learn a swim-float-swim sequence. He will be taught to swim face down using arms and legs, roll on his back to float, rest and breathe when he needs air, and then flip over onto his stomach to continue swimming until he reaches a point of safety. This swim-float-swim sequence can be repeated as many times as is necessary to reach safety.  Students are taught to use these skills to swim to a wall, the steps or, if unable to reach a point of safety, to utilize a back float while resting and breathing.

How many ISR lessons will my child need?
Progress in lessons is determined by your child's own unique learning style as all lessons are private.  Most students under 12 months complete learning a rollback to float in about 4-6 weeks of lessons.  Each lesson lasts a maximum of 10 minutes, five days per week.  Children 12 months and older learn a swim-float-swim technique and typically master the skills in 6 to 8 weeks. 

How can a child learn anything in 10 minutes?
Although 10 minutes may seem like a very short lesson, remember that each lesson is private and your child is getting the undivided attention of the instructor.  This lesson though short is very intense.  Most group lesson are only 30-45 minutes in length with as many as 6 children in each class.  This equals only about 5-7 minutes of actual instruction time for each child. Before deciding that your child can't possibly learn in such a short lesson, come and observe one or more ISR lessons. 
ISR has implemented the 10 minute maximum lesson length to ensure the safety of the student. Vasoconstriction checks and the condition of the abdomen dictate the end of the lesson not the clock. 

* The 10 minute maximum lesson aids in the prevention of hyponatremia when establishing breath control.

* Allows the Instructor to end the lesson on a better approximation of the target behavior, keeping our student successful within this time frame and getting them out on a positive note rather than due to muscular fatigue.

* Allows the Instructor to end the lesson before physical fatigue sets in. Once physical fatigue sets in posture and coordinated movements begin to deteriorate rapidly and therefore less than optimum performance gets reinforced.

* Studies show that children learn faster and retain skills best when taught in short increments frequently. Hence, the 5 days in a row, 10 minute lessons.

What if my child hasn't mastered the skills in the typical time frame?
Each child learns and masters skills at a different rate. The instructor is constantly assessing the child's progress, and in some cases a child will require more time to complete lessons.  This child will continue until he or she has successfully mastered the skills he or she is learning.    
Is ISR something new?  Who started it?
ISR began in 1966 when a young lifeguard in Florida named Harvey Barnett returned home from work to learn an infant neighbor had drowned in a nearby drainage ditch.  This tragedy prompted Harvey, then just a college student, to teach every five-year-old in his neighborhood how to swim.  He continued to teach children while a student at the University of Florida and was observed by faculty members from the Department of Psychology.  Ultimately, Harvey changed his major to Psychology and continued to use this knowledge to expand and refine his technique, based on principles of operant conditioning, to include teaching even non-verbal children as young as 6 months.  In 1972, Harvey began training others to be instructors.

Are ISR lessons safe for young children?

ISR  instructors have given over 8 million safe and effective lessons. The safety of each child is the highest priority of each ISR instructor. Prior to participation each child is registered via an online registration process and each child’s health and developmental history is evaluated by our professionals to ensure that he or she can safely participate in lessons . Each lesson is private so the instructor’s attention is focused completely on your child. The ongoing safety of each child is monitored throughout lessons by requiring each parent to keep a  daily diary of their child  in order to monitor their child’s Bowel, Urine, Diet, and Sleep (BUDS).  This is reviewed prior to each lesson. If the instructor feels any of these key health measurements are not as they should be, the child's lesson will not take place or in some cases the length and pace of a lesson is adjusted .  Many pediatricians who are educated about this program and its high safety standards are willing to refer their patients to this program. 

What qualifications does an ISR instructor have?

The ISR instructor training program includes a minimum of 60 hours of supervised in-water training plus education and testing in subjects such as child psychology, physiology, and behavioral science. All instructors are required to maintain current CPR and First Aid certification. Training as an instructor is a serious undertaking as each ISR instructor is carefully screened through extensive interviews before qualifying to earn certification. In addition, all instructors must complete re-certification requirements annually to maintain their affiliation with the program.

How is ISR different from a class like Mommy and Me? 

Unlike other programs, ISR combines safe swimming lessons with self-rescue skills that teach your baby to survive in the water. Once your child has mastered self-rescue skills, then they are ready to learn how to enjoy the water safely and comfortably.

Will my child cry during lessons? 

It is normal and common for a child to cry when he is learning to perform a new skill.  This is a new and challenging situation, and he would probably rather be playing than "working". Crying is a form of communication for many children as they grow.When introduced to a new person and a new experience, many children cry.  ISR Instructors are trained to recognize different types of cries, and even while crying, the child will be safely and gently guided through the learning process. Crying will not bother the instructor or interfere with your child learning. The first few weeks in lessons for a beginner are a critical time of adaptation to the new environment, the instructor, and the technique. It can be a time of apprehension in and around the water because your child has not had time to perfect his or her new skills. Some of the babies cry because crying is a form of infant communication. There are several different types of infant cries and it is important to be sensitive and educated as to what these different types of cries indicate. Each child is an individual and reacts to the lessons uniquely. Some never cry and most children stop crying when they become skilled in the water. It is very important that the parent sets the example by keeping a positive tone when at lessons and when discussing lessons with or around the child. 

Will my child be drown-proof?
No, nobody can ever drown-proof your child. Be leery of any program that advertises they can. 

Why don’t you allow the parents to be in the water during the lessons?
We do not want the baby to initially associate the water with the love, attention and affection of the parent with the water. Also, it takes incredible concentration and objectivity to teach the baby how to react to an aquatic emergency and our research shows that parents lack the objectivity to be effective teachers with their own children in the water. 

Will my child learn to fear the water?
 It is important that the child not fear the water because being fearful would make it more difficult for the child to learn the necessary skills. There is an important difference between being fearful and being apprehensive because you are not yet skilled in a dangerous environment. 

Why don't you teach infants under the age of 6 months?
 Children under the age of 6 months are not neurologically mature enough to benefit from ISR instruction. 

Why are Refresher lessons necessary? 

After their initial training, it is recommended that each child participate in Refresher lessons each season. Refresher lessons are important because children change so much both cognitively and physically during the first 2-3 years of life. It is important that their aquatic skills and abilities grow with them. 

How do the babies and children know to hold their breath?
 Breath holding skills are taught in the first lesson. We shape breath control using highly effective positive reinforcement techniques. 

What about floatation devices and life jackets?
Floatation devices give children a false sense of security and hold them in postures that are not compatible with swimming skills. If a child learns that he can jump in the water and go into a vertical posture and he will be able to breathe, he is getting the wrong idea about that environment. 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 crutch. Life jackets must be worn in a boat or around the water when there is the potential for an accidental submersion. They are not a substitute for the ability to swim or for adult supervision

How do babies know how to respond to a fall-in?
A baby does not need to perceive danger or be afraid to respond appropriately to being underwater. If a baby has learned to roll over and floa
t when he needs air, he does not need to perceive danger in order to respond in this manner. He needs skill, practice and confidence to calmly deal with the situation. 

Why do you not want your students to eat for at least 2 hours prior to lessons?
 The lessons require a lot of physical activity for the students. We do not want them to eat prior to lessons because we want them to be as comfortable as possible.

**All photos are strictly copyrighted and property of Fernanda Whiney and ISR. Photos cannot be printed, copied or distributed
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