Swimming is an exciting experience for a child. Besides teaching water safety, the water safety program promotes a healthy lifestyle as well. Formal swim lessons are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help your child to learn how to swim safely.
Despite AAP guidelines being regarded as best practices, not every family can afford to take swim lessons. Therefore, parents and caregivers need to teach their children the basics on their own.
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Tips for teaching your child to swim
Swimming is a very safe activity, but you have to follow the number one rule when teaching your child. Goldfish Swim School Vice President of Curriculum, James Collins, says swimmers of all ages and abilities must follow important safety guidelines.
The best advice he can give? It is always important to talk to your children about water safety. A fun image can help kids remember safety rules, says Collins. Photos and pictures appeal to young children, he says.
It’s time to introduce them to the water
If you have a kid who isn’t keen on swimming or who is afraid of the water, you can make them more comfortable in the water without having to allow them to go in the water.
- Condition them for the water: Pour warm water into a small cup (not too hot) and slowly, steadily pour it over your child’s shoulders and head until the water is absorbed. The warm water and its temperature will help them acclimate to the water, says Collins.
- Let them experiment: Provide your child with goggles for use in the shower or while in the bathtub as soon as they show interest in going into the pool. As Collins explains, children can learn to use goggles this way, which can help to create a more positive experience in the water.
- Playtime in the bathtub: You can also blow bubbles and play in the bathtub to teach them that water is fun.
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Bring some fun to it
Getting them excited about swimming can be accomplished through several games you can play in the pool.
- Blow bubbles: Despite its simplicity, this activity is a great way for kids to get comfortable in the water and to enjoy blowing bubbles.
- Get them used to goggles: Collins explains that goggles help children feel more comfortable in the water by allowing them to see clearly underwater, removing the feeling of fear.
- Play some fun games: It is advisable to play games with them once they become comfortable with you, like diving for rings (with your assistance) or kicking with red and green lights.
- Practice climbing in and out of the pool: As your child climbs out of the pool, encourage him or her to hold onto the wall and hold on as well.
- Use a lifejacket: Using a lifejacket while swimming can make movement more effective. This helps develop good pulling and kick motions, according to Collins.
Guidelines for Infants
We are happy to tell you that you are now ready to introduce your baby to the water with these guidelines and tips.
According to Collins, it’s critical to introduce babies to water as early as four months of age since water safety begins at a young age and can lead to the rapid development of swimming ability.
Parents can condition their children to feel more comfortable with water in their face by pouring a small, steady stream of water on the crown of their head when they are at the swimming pool or bathing at home. To keep the experience positive, he recommends that parents remain calm and celebrate the moment their child begins to learn.
Splash around as much as you can in the pool with your child. Getting used to the resistance helps them learn to swim. Float your baby on their back in the water while you walk backward, standing in the water while allowing them to experience floating (while you assist, of course).
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A good way to get toddlers comfortable with the water is to blow bubbles and to search for items in the water, such as rings or small pool-safe animals. If you come close to a water source, make sure you watch your toddler. As they grow, children become very curious, and this curiosity can often lead them into situations where the water becomes extremely dangerous, says Collins.
Swimming pools aren’t the only place to be careful when it comes to safety. Kids this age should also be aware of lakes, rivers, buckets, and even toilets that can contain water.
Practice “swimming” with your child when he or she is ready. Float, use legs and arms with this technique to make them familiar with floating. As they hold onto the edge of the pool, begin to teach them how to swim. Make sure you are about an arm’s length away from your child. If they can let go and swim toward you, encourage them to do so. A doggie paddle may be appropriate in this instance. A swimming stroke should not be perfected as the main goal is to help them become more confident and have fun in the water. Gradually increase your distance from the wall as they become more comfortable.
Guidelines for Older Kids
Younger children, such as those in kindergarten or second grade, may need you to be with them in the pool. Make sure you discuss safety in and around the pool when you’re at the pool. Collins says in this age group children tend to follow rules and are capable of comprehending danger.
Collins suggests that you challenge your emerging swimmers by getting their faces wet, jumping from the side to your arms, or touching the bottom of the shallow end of the pool. Also, don’t forget to celebrate.
Middle schoolers are often easily embarrassed about not being able to swim, which allows parents an opportunity to talk about water safety with their children.
In addition, teenagers are more rational, and watching videos about water safety would be valuable for them since they can learn a lot about drowning. In some parts of the pool, teens can stand up with their heads above water at this age. Collins suggests having the students try to swim three feet, then five feet, then 10 feet, standing up if necessary.
A Word from KidsRush
It’s not the only way to keep a child safe in the water, however, to teach them basic swimming skills like kicking and turning their arms as well as the doggie paddle. In addition to following these guidelines, you might also consider a few recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Whenever you have a child in the pool, you should always be close by. You should take them if you have to leave.
- In the case of a backyard pool, make sure the gates open outward and self-close, and latch at a height that children can’t reach from the pool. Also, make sure the pool is completely separated from the house and yard by a gate at least four feet tall on all sides.
- If you plan on teaching your child how to swim or perform CPR, the parent or caregiver should also be trained in these skills.
- Inflatable flotation devices, such as “floaties,” should be avoided when working with children; select a life jacket if necessary.