Swimming lessons aren't just fun, but they're a great investment in your child's safety! Find out more about how to keep your child safe in the water this summer.
For most families, summer is a time for splashing and swimming in pools and lakes. That’s why it’s so important to take steps that will ensure the security and health of the whole family. But there’s more to water safety than simply applying sunscreen and making sure everyone stays hydrated.
Especially for children, water safety is crucial. According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the third leading cause of death worldwide. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission recently published a report on drowning deaths in the US. It states that 163 children drowned in spas and pools in the summer of 2017. These figures are alarmingly high.
To protect your children from the dangers of drowning, it’s important to follow some water safety rules:
The same goes for swimming lessons in public pools. It also makes sense to take a first aid course that includes what to do in case of a water accident. To find a course near you, you can contact the Red Cross or other private agencies. But one of the best protections against drowning is to teach children to swim as early as possible.
What’s the right age to start swimming lessons? That’s a question many parents ask themselves. So-called infant swimming rescue or survival swim is very popular among young mothers. These courses can empower babies as young as six months to stay afloat in the water, but they're different than swimming lessons in the true sense.
Nonetheless, they're a great way for babies to get used to and enjoy their first positive water experiences. Infant swimming also gives parents a feeling of how they can keep their child safe in the water. For true swimming lessons, children first need to develop better coordination and body awareness. This is usually the case around their fourth birthday. At the latest, children should take swimming lessons at about the time they enter school.
You can usually find a swimming instructor at a local swimming school, rec center, or YMCA. When choosing a swimming instructor, you should first and foremost make sure they get along with you and your child. Do you have a bad feeling, do they intimidate your child, or do you disagree with their way of teaching? Then it’s better to find someone else to teach your child to swim.
Once you have found the right teacher, you should check their qualifications. Has the trainer completed professional training and appropriate courses? It’s always a good sign when the teacher has a certificate and is a member of the Local Swimming Committee (LSC) or USA Swimming Foundation. In addition, the instructor should be trained for emergencies.
You should clarify the course structure with the swimming teacher before you sign a contract. First discuss whether your child should take private lessons, semi-private lessons with siblings or a friend, or possibly a group swimming class.
Pay particular attention to your child's needs. If your child is shy, private lessons might be better for him or her. Group lessons can lead to more playing around than swimming, and the little ones might not learn as much. On the other hand, the group dynamic could encourage the children to learn to swim even faster.
The swimming teacher should not be a drillmaster. Even if she coaches high school teams – beginners need to have fun swimming. To find out more about a specific teacher, you can watch them giving a swimming lesson before you register your child. Starting off, individual swimming lessons should not exceed 30 minutes. After that, children’s concentration decreases considerably. Keep them alert by varying exercises in the lesson instead of doing the same thing over and over again.
A few lessons with a swimming instructor probably aren't going to be enough to make your child a strong swimmer. Your child will succeed more quickly if you practice with them at home or in a public swimming pool, too. And this practice doesn't have to be swimming laps with a kickboard. Even letting them swim around for fun in the water can help to strengthen their swimming skills!
Keep them swimming after summer or after the swimming lessons are over. They're not going to completely forget how to swim, but if they don’t visit a pool regularly, they won't be as comfortable in the water. To keep your kids from becoming afraid of water, you should visit an indoor swimming pool from time to time in winter. In addition to building up their swimming skills, you'll both be able to spend some quality time together and remain active.
Do you have any places you like to swim or extra swimming tips? Share with family on your favorite family app, or #getfamilyapp on social media!