You’ve started a family, and there are a lot of things pulling on your time. Yes life is busy, but there’s an important item to add to the list. Your kids will need to learn how to be safe in the water, and that means swim lessons will be a high priority on the schedule. This will be a fun addition to the experiences you get to share with your child.
It all begins with safety. It is an unfortunate reality that drowning is a problem, especially for young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated their recommendations, and now suggests that children as young as 1 to 4 years of age can benefit from formal swim lessons. Parents should decide how early to enroll their child in lessons, and it will depend on how frequently they are around water, how emotionally developed the child is, and their physical abilities. As well, if a child has a tendency to infections, consider their possible reaction to pool chemicals. Here are some resources with further information:
- AAP Gives Updated Advice on Drowning Prevention
- Swim Lesson Plans
- How To Teach A Petrified Kid Not To Be Afraid Of Water
A graduated introduction to the water. Start to get your child comfortable around the water with something as simple as bath time. Teaching your child to learn the joys of splashing can be a wonderful and fun bonding experience, and it is showing the child that the water is a positive thing. If you have a home pool, have Dad sit in the shade near the pool holding your child, while Mommy goes into the water and splashes, laughing and smiling. If your child engages, and reaches out for Mom, take the baby and hold him, gently bobbing in the water.
The fearful child. Not all children will take to the water immediately. Watch your baby during bath time, and see if they are hesitant or fearful around the water. If so, let the introduction be very gradual and slow. Make sure your baby feels safe enough in the bath to laugh or smile before introducing them to the pool. When you take the child to the pool, it may be enough for Dad to hold the child and watch from a distance for several days. Just let your child engage at their own pace.
Mommy and Me. If you have a class nearby, consider taking a Mommy and Me group class. It will allow your child to get used to the water, and an instructor who is schooled in child development can tailor the lessons to the age and development of each baby. The classes are not actually a lesson in the strictest sense, but more of an orientation. Your child may just learn how to dangle his feet in the water, blow bubbles, or you can be shown how to let your baby learn how to float. Mom will be holding the baby the entire time, and it will be a wonderful bonding experience for Mom and baby. Mom can also bond with other Moms with babies.
Lessons in the fall. In the fall and winter months, thoughts are geared toward school and after school activities. But if your child is at the age where lessons are appropriate, why wait until next summer? Classes will be less crowded in the fall, and kids will be back into school mode, so they will be receptive to learning. In the summer, kids want to hang out with their friends, and not take something called “lessons.”
When you see your child feeling confident and comfortable in the water, you can smile, knowing you have given them the tools to enjoy a lifetime of safe fun 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.