by Kaitlin Gardner from AnApplePerDay.com
I love raising my young boys, and watching them grow, but it’s kept me busy. High on my “to do” list has been water safety, to make sure they have fun but stay safe in the pool. One of the biggest safety measures for us has been swim lessons. Knowing how to swim is a skill they’ll use for a lifetime, so I want them to be well prepared.
The need for safety. The reality is that there are inherent risks around the water. Drowning has been reported as one of the highest causes of unintentional deaths among small children in the U.S. Another study has also shown that swim lessons can reduce the chances of a child drowning by as much as 88 percent. When I read those articles, it only strengthened my resolve to have my boys learn to swim, and be well prepared when it came to the pool. Here are some other articles with more great information:
- The Benefits of Enrolling Your Child in Swim Lessons
- Swim Lesson Plans
- Fun Ways To Teach Kids Swimming Lessons
Preparation starts early. It is suggested that a baby can be enrolled in Mommy and Me classes as early as 6 months of age. While these are not formal lessons, they will certainly give the child an orientation to the water, as well as being a lot of fun. I even used bath time to begin reinforcing the water as a fun place to be. I would trickle water over my child’s head, and we spent a lot of time laughing and smiling as they discovered the fun of splashing.
The beginning lessons. By around age 4, a child will be developed enough to have motor skills that will allow them to take lessons. My boys were so in love with the water that they were glad to take those lessons. They began to learn the movements that would combine into swim strokes, and to learn the basics of swim safety. They were really serious when the instructor explained why “no running at the pool” was important. I had to smile because I knew if I tried to tell them the same thing they wouldn’t listen that well. At the end of the pool season, parents can check out their kids to make sure they are “water smart,” meaning how well have they incorporated the safety principles they have learned, like being able to find the side of the pool if they fell into the water, and what to do if a friend was struggling in the water. My boys did great, and I was really pleased by how quickly they picked up a focus on safety.
Repetition helps. I plan to sign my boys up for intermediate and advanced lessons. I want them to really learn the strokes, and be well versed in the safety aspects of swimming. In school they don’t just show kids a concept once and move on, the classes work through a progression which allows kids to build proficiency. With something as important as swimming, I think the same principle should hold, so I will continue with lessons.
Use the time for bonding. I won’t have an unlimited number of opportunities to bond with my children, so I have taken advantage of lessons to spend time with the kids. I sit on the sidelines and watch their lessons, and then may have a couple of questions about what they learned after class, to reinforce what they’re being taught. But when I get to see the first time they jump off the diving board or a similar achievement, it is just wonderful to see how excited they get.
Watching my boys swimming confidently really pleases me – their swim lessons have prepared them well to enjoy all the fun they can have in the water.
Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside to discover interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint watercolors.