Being able to swim is one of the most important skills one can possess. Not only does it provide one of the best forms of exercise but it can also be a potential lifesaver. It has been a tradition in most cultures to introduce children to swimming as early as possible. Whilst this is a great idea, there are few things which should be considered before we take our kids to the local pool.
Firstly you have to assess the type of child you have. This might seem like a strange thing to say but it’s all relevant. Extroverted and adventurous children full of energy may be more likely to take to the water much more easily than children who are particularly shy and reserved. Swimming is a whole new experience which does not come naturally to any human so consideration must be given to this fact.
Understand Your Child
It sounds obvious but knowing what your child likes and dislikes is paramount to the process of learning to swim. You need to be able to acknowledge when he/she is comfortable or nervous in any given situation.
Children’s bodies are not like adults as they are generally disproportionate with larger heads and shorter limbs. This will make moving through the water far more challenging than a fully grown person. In addition, a child’s body will have a lower fat content as well as smaller lungs which, compromises buoyancy.
Keep the Trust
One of the things you must never do is scare your child at any point. Telling them that they will drown if they don’t learn, splashing them with water or even throwing them in at the deep end is not only irresponsible but categorically dangerous.
A child is not going to be swimming like a pro overnight. You need to be patient and not push them too far. Every child has varying degrees of ability so whilst one might take to the pool like a duck to water the other might take a few weeks before they feel comfortable enough to effectively swim.
Again, this should be a given but so many parent’s do not give their children enough positive encouragement. Authoritarianism has no place in the swimming baths and mom and dad should be positive at all times. If the child forgets what he/she has been taught just the day before, don’t get frustrated, rather reassure them and repeat where necessary.
In the Water
Support your child’s body initially whilst in the water. Go through the relevant strokes with them keeping them afloat as they practice the movements with their arms and legs. Arm bands can be used at first so that the child can fully concentrate on the strokes rather than keeping afloat. Let your child see you swimming as kids will normally want to emulate their parents. When they have sufficiently mastered the basics, try to get them to swim a few widths as opposed to lengths. This will be an important milestone for the child’s morale.
Swimming is an energy sapping activity and after leaving the pool your child is going to be very hungry. Make sure you a have snack and a hot drink ready for them immediately after the lesson.
It’s important to have enough towels for the occasion and make sure that the child showers straight after leaving the pool. Make sure they shake their head from side to side to get any pool water out of their ears as bacteria from the pool can cause unpleasant ear infections which will delay their swimming lessons until it’s cleared up.
Overall remember to have fun with your children. Jump in the water yourselves rather than standing on the sidelines as this will further promote their development. If you follow these guidelines (keeping safety in mind at all times), there is no reason why your teaching shouldn’t be a resounding success!
These short guide was written for us by Chessington Holidays from the UK – official hotel partner for Chessington World of Adventures.