The question of swim lessons really depends on age and the comfort of the child with water. While some kids might be the right age, if they are fearful of the water, some extra preparation might be needed before they are ready to take formal swim lessons.
Safety – the reason for it all. We all want our kids to enjoy the all the fun the water has to offer, but there are inherent risks in being around the water, so safety has to be a primary concern. It is reported by the Center For Disease Control that unintentional drowning is one of the biggest causes of death among young children. Formal swim lessons can lower that risk by as much as 88 percent. Teaching your child about the water can begin while they are really young. Here are some articles with more great information:
Early preparation. When a child might be a little young for formal swim lessons, they can still be introduced to the water. If Mommy and Me classes are available nearby, they are a great introduction to the water. If those classes aren’t available, the parents can take the child to the community pool (dressed in suitable swim diapers). Have Dad sit next to the pool holding the child, while Mom goes into the water, splashing, smiling and laughing. If the child reaches for Mom, she should take him and hold him, and he is then well on his way to comfort with the water. Let him lean near the water and discover how much fun splashing can be. If the child is still laughing and smiling, lower hold the child and yourself into the water so that he can experience the sensation. By the time he is old enough for formal swim lessons, the whole atmosphere of the water will be very familiar.
For the frightened child. Not all kids respond the same way to being around the water. For the child who looks hesitant or even frightened by the water, the key is patience. Let that child grow accustomed to the water at their own pace. It might take several sessions of Dad holding the child while Mom models the fun before that child engages. Don’t rush it, and soon enough, that child will be reaching out for Mommy. Later, when that child is playing and splashing with his friends, you’ll be glad you went slow, so that the water became a positive experience.
Formal lessons. It is suggested that a child can be enrolled in formal swim lessons when they are around 3 or 4 years old. By that point, the child will have developed enough fundamental skills to be perform swimming movements, as well as being able to follow and retain the lesson being presented. The swim instructor can teach not only the different strokes, but emphasize safety around the water.
Only in the summer? While the first thought might be to take swim lessons during the summer, the fall and winter can actually be a great time. After school is out, the kids just want to play. If there is an indoor pool available, the kids can take lessons in the fall, when they are back into learning mode. Getting the lessons out of the way in the fall means that they’ll be ready for pool time next summer.
As you sit next to the community pool, watching your child swim and play with his friends, you can smile, knowing you have prepared him to safely enjoy all the pleasures of 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. You can also find her on twitter here