Promote Better Pool Safety With Swim Lessons

by Kaitlin Gardner from AnApplePerDay.com

lesson-of-swimmingI 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:

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.

KaitlinKaitlin 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.

 

Annual Mental Health Exam

by Swiyyah Nadirah Muhammad

priority-mental-healthI’ve been saying for 10 years, there should be an annual mental health exam done on all children starting at the age of eight.  We all get physical exams yearly but because of the stigma on mental health we do not get mental exams.  I studied Psychology at the University of South FL and I believe in what one of my professors taught.  Many children experience neurotic disorders at a young age including anxiety and depression.  If these disorders go without treatment they can form into psychotic disorders.  When I was eight I experienced anxiety brought on by being molested by my brother.  I did not tell anyone about my illness.  I do believe if I would of seeked counseling at age eight my disorder would have never become psychotic.  Now I have paranoid schizophrenia.  I experienced warning signs of mental illness but at the time I was not educated to know they were warning signs.  The warning signs of schizophrenia are not caring to make friends, having slurred speech, and having a family history of mental illness.  I would advice all adults to talk to their children early about mental illness.  Ask questions. Encourage them to share their experience with mental illness.  If you’re an adult who had experienced mental illness at a young age, talk to your children about it. Ask them if they are experiencing any signs of mental illness.  The only way to end this stigma is for everyone to start sharing their stories, especially the celebrities because we look up to them.  The fear many have is that if they share their experience with mental illness they will lose their fan base, when actually they will grow more fans because people will be able to relate to them.  Forty nine percent of Americans will experience a mental illness at least once in their life.  The most common is depression and anxiety.

About the author: Swiyyah Nadirah Muhammad is an author and motivational speaker.  Her book is called Don’t Call Me Crazy! I’m Just in Love and it is required reading at SPC College and several high schools.  To book Swiyyah for your next event or for radio and television interviews, contact her at 727-776-0291.

Bonding with Baby: Baby Sign Language Builds Early Connections

By Andrea Ploehn

sign-languageIn today’s society, children spend so much time watching TV, playing video and computer games, and are plugged into their phones and other electronic devices. Parents who want to connect with their kids need to start early to build strong bonds that will last, no matter what technological distractions tomorrow brings!

Fortunately, there’s a great way that parents can engage their children at the earliest ages, and strengthen the parent-child bond. It’s a method I have used with my own children and have seen amazing results in their communication and social skills: baby sign language.

In working with my children as babies, and with many other infants, I have found that their ability to learn and understand often goes far beyond their ability to communicate with words. This is supported by research. Joseph Garcia (sign 2 me), explains that babies are able to learn long before the development of verbal language skills. “As infants learn signs, they can begin the foundation for mutual understanding,” Garcia states. “This manual communication can contribute greatly to the bonding process.”

Signing with babies also helps build their socialization skills. Babies who learn sign language are able to communicate their needs long before they can verbalize them. This reduces their frustration, builds their confidence, and helps create stronger bonds with their parents.

I remember one time when my daughter Annie was little and we were waiting for daddy to come home. We heard someone at the door, but it wasn’t dad. She started crying and signing “dad, dad, dad.” My daughter couldn’t verbally say dad yet, so if she hadn’t used the sign for dad, I wouldn’t have understood why she was crying. Instead of being clueless, I was able to reassure her that her dad was on the way.

Using sign language with babies not only boosts the parent/child connection, it’s also a great way for babies to interact with their older siblings and other family members. The bond that my kids have with each other because of sign language is amazing. I’ve been able to replace the jealously that older siblings often feel when a new baby comes, with confidence and pride in helping teach their new sibling how to do baby sign language.

Among our children, Annie helped teach her brother Brandon to sign when he was a baby. Then Ben came along and Annie and Brandon both worked together to teach him to sign. Now the three of them are teaching my youngest, Emily, all the signs she needs to know. Along the way all my kids have experienced years of benefits because of the positive interaction made possible by learning sign language as babies.

Communication and connection are the keys. In today’s disruptive, technology-driven society, these are critical factors for healthy child development. I’m so glad that doing something as simple as signing with my children has so many amazing benefits.

About the Author: Andrea Ploehn (SAY Plone as in “hone”) is an expert on nonverbal communication and teaching babies sign language. A native and resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, she holds a communications degree with an emphasis in interpersonal communication from Idaho State University. She and her husband, a physical therapist, have four children, ages 16 months through 9-years-old. For more information, visit her public website at http://www.Signing4Baby.com. Contact Andrea at AndreaPloehn@hotmail.com.