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Discussion Starter #1
Well it's the end of what's been a long and fairly stressful weekend. Yesterday and afternoon I did a full Open Water confined water session with 2 students that went OK. It has been a while since I taught the skills, but they quickly came back to me. Then as soon as that class finished I drove to another student to go over knowledge reviews and do the quizzes and final exam, and then when I'd finished with her I went to visit a family who are wanting to get certified to do the same with them. So my Saturday was a 16-hour working day with a big pool session to come.

And then today I had my confined open water session with the family. Now the father and mother are in their 40s, but the kids are girls, aged 10 and 12 respectively. It was my first experience teaching children so I was ready to go relatively slowly. Even so, I was hoping to cover confined water dives 1 and 2 in this session. I was sorely mistaken...

After 10 minutes the youngest girl said she was cold and promptly started crying. This was before we had done any skills at all and we had just gone under the water with regs. So I called for a 5-minute break so everyone could get themselves sorted out etc. We restarted again after the youngest girl had put another wetsuit on top of this first one, and was now saying she couldn't really move. This was combined with the father saying his neck was being constricted by the wetsuit, and his elbow joints were being squeezed by it. We managed to get through a couple of skills before the youngest girl randomly spat her regulator out of mouth because she was starting to lose her balance, and took in a mouth full of water in the process. So this time a longer break was taken. On the next skill the mother started complaining that her mask was leaking & her regulator was leaking. Checked both and they were fine. She then recomplained about her mask when doing the mask half-clearing skill as it apparently wasn't clearing properly, despite me showing and telling her how to do it.

In the end only one of them (the 12-year old girl) made it as far as the swimming and equalizing. The father tried but he couldn't clear his ears below 1m down. In the end I called it a day and told them we'd have to schedule at least a 3rd session into the course, and probably a 4th too.

I probably had too-high expectations of the kids, especially given their ages. But that was a stressful experience in teaching a family for the first time. Can anyone offer any tips on teaching families with kdis in the future?
 

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I've seen children, slightly older than these, do better than their parents when not being taught with the parents. When combined, sometimes the children play up a bit, and the parents really don't like to be shown up by not being able to do something the children get right. And this is in the UK. Is this a Japanese family - conformity or losing face an issue?

I'd also lay odd that one of the 4 really does not want to be there. It could be any of them - either being told to be there or pressure from the spouse.

Adrian
 

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Discussion Starter #3
No - it's a western family. New Zealand father, American wife. I am pretty sure the father and eldest daughter want to be there (especially the eldest daughter - she was loving swimming around underwater). The mother and the youngest daughter... I'm not sure if they want to be doing it:(
 

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You need to get a DM in, or have someone else there.

Ratio of 1:4 is ok in standards, but with a family the dynamic is far more
complex.

With another DM you could have passed off whoever was griping at the
time and continued. Without both the peer pressure or the "look at me"
or "dont look at me" syndrom going on, you would have acheived much more.
 

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Wow... sounds like hard work! I would agree with Adrian though. If the father and elder daughter want to be there, and the mother starts off complaining she can't clear her mask & reg when there is nothing wrong with it, it sounds as though there is a bit of spousal/family pressure. It may not even be evident to them. I would put money on one of them (either dad or elder daughter) having the idea in the first palce, two being talked into it.

When I have had people who don't seem to want to be there, i have suggested that they sit out for a while, then when i have got the rest of the group where i want them (in terms of which skills) let them practice a bit of swimming around and work one on one with the difficult ones. You may also find that the younger daughter is attention seeking.

Normally, family groups tend to do better if they are split up, but i guess you don't have that luxury. I would get the father to buddy the younger daughter and the mother to work with the elder one. It may take longer, but if you did them 2 at a time, there is less of a competitive factor.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Yeah - I know. My problem was my 2 people who could have divemastered for me (one an instructor, and the other a DM) were unavailable this weekend, so I had to struggle on by myself. Might try to get a DM involved next weekend though. Hopefully they'll want to continue with it.

EDIT: Plus I found out the family have also had personal / work-related issues in the past 7 days which has caused stress in all of the family. Not a good footing to start the course with. I will have to make modifications next week though.
 

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I agree... get the DM in, makes huge difference... all to do with confidence and you simply as an instructor can not have eyes everywhere and they will all want your attention all the time... that is what the DM (like me incidentially - well almost.. lol)

It could also just be family from hell, some people are desperate to dive but lets be honest, we all know, some people just will never be divers in that respect...

Better luck next time.. just one thing after the other after the other on this one...

B x
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I mentioned today in an email to the father that I was interested in teaching the children and adults separately, at least for the confined water sessions. He replied stating that they want to be taught as a group. Do you think I should insist? I talked about this problem on another forum and someone suggested doing a DSD/Bubblemaker type dive with the kids (especially the youngest). That way the parents can watch from the surface, and the kids can do stuff in the water without thinking they're doing "skills" per se. I can schedule one more pool session within my price frame, but if we go over that I will have to be compensated a little more as I need to at least meet my costs.

Incidentally, with the youngest girl, apparently one of her main worries was that the pool dropped off from 1m to about 2 and a half metres without having a gradual slope. I can understand her worries, but in that case there's not a lot I can do about it.
 

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Time to get a bit bolshie on your part perhaps.

All of them need to understand that the individual problems for each of them are holding them all back. Splitting them up will make this easier for all of you.

If they insist on being taught as a group, I might think about refusing to carry on with them, offer money back etc. Your call, but customers should not be able to insist on how they are taught about a subject about which they know very little.

Adrian
 

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I completely agree with Adrian's point there. I would point out that your reasoning for wanting to split them is so that they can all meet the requirements of their course and work at a pace that suits them which means in the long run that they will be more comfortable in the water and can spend the time that they need doing the skills.

In the end it is your call because you are the instructor and although you appreciate that they wish to be taught as a group this could result in none of them getting certified.

Also to echo everyone else, get a DM involved for the next one...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well, after mentioning it to the father again, he has agreed that I am going to have a session just with the kids on Sunday morning. The parents are going to sit on the side and take some photos and i'll make sure they are passive. With the kids I'm going to mainly work on confidence and comfort underwater. I'm going to get the youngest swimming around in the shallows first, and then I'll try to introduce some toys of some sort. Maybe a hoop to swim through, maybe my digital camera & housing for them to take some shots underwater etc. The idea about the plastic bottles is a very good one, and something I may also use.

Well I'm feeling much more confident about trying to get them certified now, and hopefully this coming weekend will go much more smoothly.
 

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Time to get a bit bolshie on your part perhaps.

All of them need to understand that the individual problems for each of them are holding them all back. Splitting them up will make this easier for all of you.

If they insist on being taught as a group, I might think about refusing to carry on with them, offer money back etc. Your call, but customers should not be able to insist on how they are taught about a subject about which they know very little.

Adrian
Bolshie may be the wrong word, but you are the instructor, you know what you are doing, they dont yet.

I for one will do not like students trying to tell me how to do my job, after all you are the one who carries the can for your desisions. Dont get stressed, just sit the mum and dad down and tell them what you intend to do.

Not everyone who wants to dive can, i want to sky dive, but my fear of hights and refusal to jump out of a perfectly good plane, means i will never do it.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well I was going to reply last night to give you an update, but I was just too tired. 2 34m+ dives on Saturday and then 8 hours in the pool on Sunday left me completely drained. But I am happy to report a much better pool session with this family.

I met up with them at 8am and found the oldest girl with a huge smile, asking when we would do a giant stride entry. The youngest daughter was a polar opposite, with a face like thunder and tears already in her eyes. I was just about ready to tell the father that I didn't think she was ready to dive. But she told me she wanted to do it and I got into the pool with the kids only. The parents took a little walk and I got to work.

The first session had virtually no skills, and was simply a confidence boosting session. I had brought my hula hoops, my digital camera and the "put the toys through the right holes" puzzle that I use for my Deep Diver class. We did some skin diving first, as I wanted to get them swimming about without the SCUBA unit on. They seemed fine with that so we moved onto swimming through the hoops, both as skin divers and then with all SCUBA gear on. Again, they seemed fine doing it and I took a couple of photos. I then did a few no-mask breathing exercises using the snorkel, and they seemed surprised at how easy it was. From there, we built on things, doing alternate air source exercises, deep water entries and a few more things. The session was relaxed and I'll need one more session to finish the kids off, but the youngest daughter came out with a huge smile. That in itself was worth the extra work.

The parents were pretty good and I managed to finish their confined water sessions up. My only worry now about the youngest daughter is if she is physically strong enough to dive. She can carry the tank when walking etc, but she sometimes has trouble using the LPI with one hand and frequently has to grip it with both hands to inflate. We'll see how she gets on in the next session.

But Sunday was really rewarding, and showed to me what being an instructor is all about. The father of the family was really appreciative of my time and efforts too. So thank you all for your ideas and help in this matter. I'll be sure to let you know how they all get on.
 

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Well I was going to reply last night to give you an update, but I was just too tired. 2 34m+ dives on Saturday and then 8 hours in the pool on Sunday left me completely drained. But I am happy to report a much better pool session with this family.

I met up with them at 8am and found the oldest girl with a huge smile, asking when we would do a giant stride entry. The youngest daughter was a polar opposite, with a face like thunder and tears already in her eyes. I was just about ready to tell the father that I didn't think she was ready to dive. But she told me she wanted to do it and I got into the pool with the kids only. The parents took a little walk and I got to work.

The first session had virtually no skills, and was simply a confidence boosting session. I had brought my hula hoops, my digital camera and the "put the toys through the right holes" puzzle that I use for my Deep Diver class. We did some skin diving first, as I wanted to get them swimming about without the SCUBA unit on. They seemed fine with that so we moved onto swimming through the hoops, both as skin divers and then with all SCUBA gear on. Again, they seemed fine doing it and I took a couple of photos. I then did a few no-mask breathing exercises using the snorkel, and they seemed surprised at how easy it was. From there, we built on things, doing alternate air source exercises, deep water entries and a few more things. The session was relaxed and I'll need one more session to finish the kids off, but the youngest daughter came out with a huge smile. That in itself was worth the extra work.

The parents were pretty good and I managed to finish their confined water sessions up. My only worry now about the youngest daughter is if she is physically strong enough to dive. She can carry the tank when walking etc, but she sometimes has trouble using the LPI with one hand and frequently has to grip it with both hands to inflate. We'll see how she gets on in the next session.

But Sunday was really rewarding, and showed to me what being an instructor is all about. The father of the family was really appreciative of my time and efforts too. So thank you all for your ideas and help in this matter. I'll be sure to let you know how they all get on.

Glad its starting to work out
 
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