March 19th, 2015
By Kaitlin Gardner of AnApplePerDay.com
When we started our family, water safety was a big concern for me. My husband and I love the water, and I knew we would be spending time at the pool, or on a family vacation to the beach. I wanted my kids to be well prepared to be safe in the water, and that meant swim lessons.
The safety factor. It’s just a reality that there are inherent dangers when around the water. I read that drowning is one of the biggest causes of unintentional death among small children, so safety needs to start early. Formal swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning for young kids as much as 88 percent, which only reinforced my desire to start early with my kids. Here are some great articles with more details about swim lessons for kids:
Introduction to the water. I used our bath time as a way to introduce my kids to the water, but also to see how receptive they would be to the whole experience. One of my kids loved the water when he was a baby, so bath time was a joy for him. I got soaked with suds the first time he discovered the art of splashing. By smiling a lot and laughing with him, it reinforced the water as a positive place to be. My other boy was more hesitant, and wanted to investigate everything cautiously before deciding if it was alright. I realized we might have to be more patient with him.
Getting in the pool. When my kids were about 6 months old, they were ready for a Mommy and Me class. My water baby took right to it, and took in everything we did in the class. It wasn’t really a lesson, but a way to let the child get oriented to the water. I liked that idea a lot – when they took lessons, it would be in a familiar environment. He played and wanted to reach out to the other babies, and was soon splashing merrily and enjoying the whole experience.
The hesitant child. With my child who was more hesitant about the water, I thought a class might move too fast for him. My husband and I took him to our community pool (in swim diapers) for several sessions, to let him check out the water. My husband sat in the shade back from the pool, holding our baby. I went into the water and began laughing and splashing like we had done in the bathtub. My husband moved gradually closer to the pool, and when my baby reached out for me, I took him in my arms. I just held him against me to let him look around. Over time he decided the water was safe, so we began to move around the water. I gently bobbed him where his feet touched the water. Now he is fine with the water just like his more adventurous brother.
Formal lessons. It is suggested that a child is developmentally ready for lessons at around age 3 or 4. By then they will be able to move around safely, and listen and retain instructions. We signed our kids up when they were that age. I didn’t think learning to swim should be a one time experience, so I have continued their training with intermediate and advanced lessons. We sign up in the fall – when they’re more used to being in a school atmosphere, and are receptive to learning. It’s been a pleasure to watch my kids grow in confidence around the water.
As my boys splash and play in the pool, it makes me smile to know that they have learned how to safely enjoy all the fun the water has to offer.
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.