FAQ

FAQ’s ABOUT ISR

What is the ISR technique?
The ISR technique is a unique method of teaching children 6 months to 6 years of age self rescue swimming skills that they can use to survive in an aquatic accident. ISR is the only medically sound program proven to save lives.

What skills will a child learn in ISR swim lessons?
Children 12 months and under will learn how to hold their breath under water and rotate from a face-down position in the water to a back float. A baby will be taught to rest and breathe on his or her back until help arrives.

A child who is 12 months or older will learn a swim-float-swim sequence. He or she will be taught to hold their breath under water, swim face down in a horizontal position, roll on his or her back to float, rest and breathe, and then flip over onto his or her stomach to continue swimming until he or she reaches a point of safety. This sequence can be repeated as many times as is necessary to reach safety. The students are also taught to utilize a back float if a point of safety is not attainable.

All students will learn to perform these skills in a swim diaper, then also while fully clothed.

How many lessons will my child need?
Progress in lessons is determined by your child’s own unique learning style, and at his or her own pace. Most students under 12 months complete learning a rollback to float in about 4 weeks of lessons. Children 12 months and older learning a swim-float-swim technique typically master the skills within 6 weeks. Each lesson lasts a maximum of 10 minutes for five days per week.

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 is tough, short and very intense. Most group lessons 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, then please, come and observe one or more ISR lessons.

What if my child hasn’t mastered the skills in the typical time frame?
In some cases, such as where a child has missed lessons due to illness, a child will require longer to complete lessons. This child will continue until he or she has successfully mastered the skills he or she is learning. ISR lessons differ from many other swim lessons that end after a set number of weeks or lessons.

Will my child need additional lessons after he has completed ISR lessons?
Due to tremendous physical and emotional changes of infants and young children, follow-up refresher lessons are recommended at least every 6 months until the age of 4 when the growth rate begins to slow down. This serves to reinforce learned skills and stabilize skills for maximum retention. You may also wish to schedule periodic maintenance lessons for your child throughout the season.

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 see an infant neighbor being put into a body bag. The baby was a victim of drowning 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 his knowledge to expand and refine his technique, based on the principles of operant conditioning. In 1972 Harvey began training others to be instructors.

How many children have taken ISR lessons?
ISR has trained more than 200,000 children and and delivered over 6 million lessons across the United States. To date, ISR has 788 documented cases of children using ISR techniques to save themselves from drowning. ISR has a 100% safety record.

Are ISR lessons safe for young children?
The safety of each child is the highest priority of each ISR instructor. Prior to participation each child is registered via an on line 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 by the instructor. 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 such as psychology, physiology, and behavioral science. All instructors are required to maintain current CPR and First Aid certification. Training 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?
Although many programs for young children focus on a water orientation approach using songs and games, this approach does not teach your child any of the skills necessary for survival. Many lessons such as Mommy and Me teach children that the water is a fun place to play without teaching them any meaningful skills. Remember the water will not be a fun place for your child if he or she is unskilled and finds himself alone in the water. This approach may actually make a child more vulnerable to drowning as a child is taught to be fearless without any understanding of the skills needed for effective swimming. ISR lessons encourage water competence first thereby promoting a safe foundation for a lifelong enjoyment of the water.

What if my child cries during his or her lesson?
Crying is a form of communication for children as they grow. They cry when they are hungry, bored, tired, etc. When introduced to a new person and a new experience, many children cry. This is not unusual for children in ISR lessons. You as a parent can project your positive attitude and praise your child’s efforts. With this positive reinforcement from the parents, the child’s crying will most likely diminish or even be eliminated as their skill level progresses. Crying will not bother the instructor or interfere with your child’s learning.

If my child cries will he learn to hate or fear the water?
Do you remember when your child learned to walk? He probably fell down and bumped his head and cried numerous times yet it did not cause him to hate or avoid walking. Do you avoid taking your child to the doctor if he cries there? Of course not because you as the parent knows that it is necessary for his own good.

Is it okay to use floaties, rings or flotation swim suits for my child to play in the water until she is ready to learn to swim? How about a life jacket?
These devises give a false sense of security for both the parent and child. Life jackets although completely necessary in a boat are also not a safe way for a child to play in the water. A child using any of these becomes overconfident in the water and believes falsely that she can swim. Wearing these will also interfere with learning the proper swim technique later as she has learned to keep her body in a vertical position. Ask yourself what will happen if she falls in without them, and goes vertical just like she has always done…..

Does taking ISR lessons guarantee that a child will be drown-proofed when finished?
No person or child is ever drown-proofed by any lessons. Supervision is still the most important factor in preventing drowning. Other precautions must be taken to prevent a child from ever getting to the water unsupervised. ISR educates you on how to protect your child through The Parent Resource Book which is provided to every parent upon registration. The goal of the lessons is for your child to have skills that he or she could use to survive a potential drowning situation.

I’m not sure that I can afford swim lessons for my child.
Your child is unique, precious,and irreplaceable. No value can ever be placed on him or her. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children and preventing it is vital to your child’s health and well-being. A child who cannot swim is at greater risk for drowning. Parents spend considerable amounts on other lessons and sports that will never teach a child any lifesaving skills. By comparison, knowing how to swim can protect your child from death or serious permanent injury. It will also provide a lifetime of enjoyment for your child.