What’s Your Story: Student teaches children songs, swimming

Adriane Hardin

The kids in the pool go splash, splash, splash.

That’s what Joanna Gramstad and the parents of 15 young children sing on Tuesday and Thursday nights at the Preston Center pool.

Gramstad, a Danville sophomore, treads water twice a week armed with a laminated list of songs and a lesson plan.

She teaches the Infant and Pre-school Aquatics Program, a program designed to acquaint Bowling Green-area children with the water.

Gramstad had to complete a 60-hour course to receive her teaching certification for the class.

“The infant and the parent come in and have a lesson together,” she said. “It’s basically an adjustment program.”

Gramstad’s class consists of children ages 6 months to 5 years old.

“You have to constantly praise them,” she said.

She leads the infants and their parents through various exercises in the pool. Under the watchful eyes of Gramstad and the parents, the children blow bubbles, float and kick.

“I try to be interactive with the kids so they’re not just with their parents,” she said.

Gramstad leads the group in songs that include motions where the children must interact with the water.

While she leads the children in songs such as “Old MacDonald Had a Pond,” most parents join in.

Gramstad said most parents are enthusiastic participants, but “some dads are like, ‘Oh my gosh, another song.'”

She also supervises the children as they float on a “magic carpet” that is actually made of foam.

She said the logic behind the carpet is to let the child become comfortable with being in the water without their parents.

“It’s sort of like, ‘Well Mom is in front of me but I’m by myself’,” she said.

Gramstad has taught swimming lessons since she was 15, in levels ranging from beginning to intermediate.

She said she enjoys teaching this age group the most.

“Probably because they’re babies and they’re lots of fun,” she said.

Gramstad has not yet declared a major, but said she loves children and hopes that working with children will be part of her life after she graduates.

Not necessarily in the water though.

Reach Adriane Hardin at [email protected]