With over two-thirds of the Earth’s surface covered in water, one of the most important skills we can teach our children to help ensure their safety is to learn to swim.
There is no particular age at which learning to swim is best, but when you feel it is time remember that this can often be a frustrating, scary experience for children, and it may be best to let the professionals teach this particular lesson.
But aside from booking a course of swimming lessons, is there anything else a parent can do to help their child learn to swim?
Pull out the old swim trunks because the answer is a resounding “yes”!
Do Your Homework
Swimming instructors undergo rigorous water safety and life saving training that makes them the best teachers of children learning to swim.
Before deciding on an instructor, research a little bit and:
- Ask friends and neighbours to recommend a teacher.
- Inquire about lessons at your local pool or health club.
- Visit the local swim team to see if the coaches provide lessons.
- Avoid unqualified teachers, like members of a swim team who may not be certified.
- Ask if an instructor has experience teaching children the same age as your child.
- Ask to see an instructor’s certification if you feel something is amiss.
Get Kitted Out
Like many sports, swimming comes with its own kit and most of it is useful even for those just learning to swim. Consider investing in:
- Sporty, supportive swimsuits that can withstand motion and activity.
- Goggles to keep salt or chlorine out of the eyes.
- A swim cap to protect hair and keep it safely tucked away.
- Flip-flops or other sandals to avoid walking in stagnant water and shared showers.
- Towels to keep the little ones warm when they exit the water, and for showering.
- Specially formulated shampoo to remove salt or chlorine from the hair after swimming.
- A waterproof bag to help keep all of the swimming gear in one place.
Practice Makes Perfect
Swimming lessons will usually take place once, or at most twice, per week. In the mean time, jump in with your child so that they can practice their strokes!
- Always check the depth of the water before beginning your fun.
- Never assume that water wings or other inflated accessories are enough to keep your child afloat without supervision.
- Invest in noodles and kickboards to help your child practice floating and kicking.
- Throw coins or water sticks into shallow water to help your child dive under.
- Remind you child of what he/she learned at the last lesson. Practice the specific skill they were taught.
- Bring little ones into deep water with you so that they become comfortable moving around.
- Consider offering swimming related treats for successful water activities.
Be Your Child’s Biggest Cheerleader
Many children are timid around water and feel uncoordinated and out of place when they are learning to swim.
As a parent, perhaps the greatest gift you can give them at this time is your support.
Never push a child to do things in the water that they are not comfortable with, and instead offer high praise when they complete a water-related task.
If you feel your child is abnormally afraid of the water, speak with the instructor about your concerns.