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Teaching Your Child to Swim
By Jennifer McGregor
Swimming is not only a survival skill; it’s also an activity that can provide children countless hours of fun and physical activity. But first, a few quick reminders. Never put your child in a situation where they feel unsafe. Ensure that there is always an adult nearby and that the child can touch the floor of the pool with their head above water. You should also be patient as it will probably take the majority of the summer for your child to learn how to swim. It will be worth it, however, once they’ve mastered it.
Make Sure Your Child is Ready. Not all children are ready to learn at the same age. Some children are afraid of the water. Others simply have no interest in learning. Have a conversation with your child about the possibility of swimming lessons and gauge from their reaction whether or not the time is right. Swimming is a useful survival skill. However, a child shouldn’t be forced to learn it before they’re ready.
Whether your child is ready to learn how to swim depends on their emotional maturity, physical and developmental abilities, and limitations, as well as their comfort level in the water. That said, because children develop at different rates, not all are ready to begin lessons at the same age, yet the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons as a layer of protection against drowning that can begin for many children starting at age 1.
Safety First. Before beginning to learn how to swim, you should have equipment at the ready. This might include a floatie (learn to swim vest, jacket, or suit) and goggles. Show your child how to use these tools to make him or her more comfortable throughout the process.
Choose a safe location where your child is comfortable. It is safer to teach swimming in a pool than in a lake or a pond. There should be a shallow section, so if there is a public pool in your town, this might be an optimal choice.
If you have a pool of your own, it’s critical that you install safety measures before beginning your swimming lessons. The more comfortable kids become in the water, the more they’ll want to enjoy it, so you need to ensure they can’t access the pool area without your supervision and that you’ll be alerted immediately if they do.
Start by building a fence. Look for local fence companies with outstanding customer reviews on sites like Angi, keeping in mind that you should contact three or more companies to find an estimate that works with your budget. Also consider the fence’s material. While chain-link structures are the cheapest per foot, mischievous youngsters can scale them, so it’s best to go with a material like wood or vinyl that are tougher to climb. Also install safety latches to your fence’s entrances as well as pool alarms around your pool’s perimeter, which will activate when anyone enters the water.
Find a Reliable Teacher. Now that you have a location in mind, ask around. Are there instructors that use this location? Can you hire an independent teacher and invite them to your pool? A reliable teacher is incredibly important when your child is first learning to swim. This is someone your child will need to learn to trust completely. You can choose to teach your child yourself but be prepared with lesson plans and useful techniques.
Practice, Practice, Practice. Whether or not you instruct your own child, you will be responsible for practice sessions. Once your child is ready, you’ll need to take him or her to a pool once or twice a week for practice. You’ll find that once children start learning, they rarely want to stop until they’ve mastered the art of swimming altogether. Verywell Family offers some useful games to help your child practice and learn simultaneously.
The First Test. This test should only come when your child believes he or she is ready to swim alone. You should have safety equipment and friendly support within reach. The more nervous you seem, the more nervous your child will be. Allow him or her to swim for the first time without aid. This lays the groundwork for all solo swimming from that point on.
Keep these instructions in mind, and your child will benefit from learning to swim, including not just safety around water and getting great exercise, but the fact that teamwork concepts are built into the individuality of the low-impact sport of swimming. Learning to swim is chock-full of life lessons that will impact them for years to come.
The Aquatic Exercise Association is dedicated to advancing aquatic exercise, health, and wellness around the world. Become an AEA member today!
Jennifer McGregor is a pre-med student, who enjoys writing about health and medical topics and providing reliable health and medical resources. Together with a friend, she co-created PublicHealthLibrary.org as a way to push reputable information on health topics to the forefront, making them easier and quicker to find.