Swimming is a timeless way to beat the heat and enjoy the summer and a vital life skill that everyone can benefit from learning. You may have easy access to a local facility or a swimming pool right in your back yard. But even if you only head out onto the water for the occasional weekend boat rentals and fishing trips, it’s still worth teaching this skill to your children early, making them comfortable with being in and around the water. Here are some pointers when giving kids their first swimming lessons.
Adjust to the age and comfort level.
All people—even adults—tend to have their individual preferences that determine the best approach for any instructor. But at a younger age, a child’s physical coordination and development can vary greatly and exert further influence on how quickly (or slowly) they learn to move in the water. Also, kids can have different levels of comfort when it comes to being in the water.
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than 12 months shouldn’t be given swimming lessons yet. After that, you need to adjust your approach based on their overall condition and capabilities. Below three years of age, the experience should simply be about getting accustomed to the water. Older children can have the coordination necessary to learn the floating, gliding, and basic breathing exercises, progressing to swimming strokes around the age of six and above.
Always put safety first.
According to the CDC, drowning is the fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury death in the US, and the water can pose a significant danger to children. However, each day, parents across the country still manage to teach their children the basics of swimming and equip them with a valuable skill for life.
The solution is to put safety first when your child is around water and never leave them unattended. Infants must never be submerged; with the risk of drowning, they can swallow harmful volumes of water. Minimize distractions (for both children and adults) around the swimming area. Life jackets are a must for weak swimmers and around natural bodies of water. Above all, see to it that you’ve also mastered swimming and CPR.
Make lessons simple and fun.
As an adult, if you’ve been swimming for years, you may have forgotten how difficult it can be for many beginners to make progress at first. Similar to the way we all learn how to drive, you can make swimming lessons easy and fun by first breaking down this complex skill into more fundamental blocks and giving each one due focus and time.
For instance, you can teach a child to practice swimming movements while wearing a flotation device so that they don’t need to worry about staying afloat. You may want to structure the lessons a bit, devoting the first five minutes to safety reminders and breathing techniques while maintaining the fun aspect of being in the water by allowing for intervals of playtime.
With proper attention to safety and effective lessons to get your child started, you can introduce them to a new world of fun, adventure, and physical activity that they can make use of throughout their lives.