Five reasons why we love our Babies & Toddlers qualification

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Swim England Qualifications’ new and unique Level 2 Teaching Swimming to Babies & Toddlers qualification was launched earlier this week.

The practical qualification gives teachers the knowledge, skills and confidence to plan and teach baby and toddler swimming lessons.

Here, Catherine Butt – who played a key role in the development of the new qualification – provides five reasons why it is such a fantastic option for swimming teachers…

  • No dolls are used – only real babies and toddlers

Catherine: Right from the beginning, we decided that there would be no use of dolls as part of the assessment – that’s unique.

So learners on these courses are assessed working with real adults and children, not with dolls or simulated practice as we call it. That has been quite common within adult and child qualifications, and a doll doesn’t exactly respond in the same way as a real baby!

  • It’s aligned to the Early Years Foundation Stage framework

Catherine: Another key benefit is that the qualification aligns with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework which is used in all pre-school education. That is about knowing that the people who take the qualification are aware of good practice within wider education, and child development is obviously a key part of that Early Years Foundation Stage.

Childcare workers, people running nurseries, childminders and play groups all have the same information that our new teachers will now have. People taking this qualification learn about the EYFS and that links through to when children are starting the Swim England Learn to Swim framework at school age. There is that progression now, which is great.

  • Learners work with the baby age group

Catherine: It is now compulsory for all learners to be assessed working with babies from birth to 18 months. Previously, learners could potentially be assessed and never actually work with that baby age group.

All learners have to work with that baby age group and an older age group – either 18 months to 3 years, or 3-5 years. The qualification is aiming to give learners that confidence to work with everything from baby to toddler. There’s a massive difference between that babe in arms at six months old and a toddler, and we are aiming to give people the experience of working with both.

  • It embraces the importance of ‘play’

Catherine: We’ve aligned play more closely with how play is used within the EYFS framework – so the way that parents will encounter play when they take their child to a child group, play group or nursery. In line with that, we’ve looked to use terms that they will encounter in their child’s other early years experiences.

The importance of play and how children learn through play and fun activities is integral to the Learn to Swim framework and also the pre-school framework. This qualification gives learners that insight into how children learn and that specialist knowledge of under-fives.

  • It’s tailored for teaching babies and toddlers

Catherine: The key to the qualification is that it gives learners a good understanding of children of this age – how they develop, how they learn and how that is fundamentally different to the five-year-old swimmers they will get within the Learn to Swim programme.

It’s so important that, as teachers, we don’t teach pre-school children just like a little five-year-old. These children have different social, emotional, language, physical and development characteristics – and these characteristics need to be taken into account within their swimming lessons.

  • Learners must be 16+ to take the new qualification and must hold a Swim England Level 1 Assistant (Teaching) qualification or ASA equivalent. Holders of the Swim England Level 2 Teaching Swimming qualification or ASA equivalent will be automatically exempt from some content. Find out more here.