Summer time means lots of time at the pool, beach and lakes, when parents need to keep a watchful eye on children for safety’s sake. Sadly, accidental drowning is the second leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 14 in the United States. With the accessibility of the beach and many pools open year round in Southern California, teaching water safety to children is a great idea, and since children can start swimming as early as a few weeks old, it’s never too early for swim lessons.
Research the method used by your swim instructor. The first lessons should focus on safety and building confidence in the water, such as the SwimRight swim-float-swim technique which many swim academies utilize as the foundation for learning to swim. This method teaches children to roll onto their backs to float, which they learn is a safe maneuver whenever they feel unsure or tired in the water.
For infants and students under the age of three who require 100 percent supervision, private lessons with one instructor per student are recommended. Another option for children under age two and under is lessons with their parents in the water with them. Children over age three who can follow directions can enter classes with up to four students per instructor. After children learn basic skills, then they can move onto learning the four strokes of freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly.
Make it Fun
The key to learning to swim is making it fun for kids. Find a program that is enjoyable for your child and instructor with whom your child feels comfortable. Look for consistency in instructors, as a child is likely to give up on lessons if their instructor keeps changing. Ask other parents in the program if their children look forward to coming to lessons and about the progress their children have made.
To keep swimming enjoyable and exciting, suit up children in in the proper swimming gear so that they stay warm, comfortable and enthused. Konfidence (www.konfidence-usa.com) makes a number of children’s wet suits, such as the Warma Wetsuit, designed to trap a layer of water next to the body as a warming insulator. The neoprene rubber liner also helps keeps kids buoyant, and the fabric covering helps parents and instructors to get a grip on slippery wet kids.
Once a child has the knowledge, skills and gear to feel safe and confident in the water, the swim experience is more relaxed for the child and parents. The earlier children get in the water the easier it is for them to learn to swim and begin a life-long activity that the family can enjoy together for fitness and fun.