Summer naturally brings thoughts of days swimming at the lake or afternoons playing the pool. If your children are not regular swimmers, perhaps this summer is the time to make sure that swimming is on their agenda.
I grew up living by lakes and we swam all the time, some days I’d be in the water so long I’d be wrinkly. My friends and I would get out, eat lunch, rest for a few minutes, then jump back in.
Swimming opens up a whole new world to your kids, and to your family. Not only can you go all out on your vacation and do the beach thing, you can also enjoy family activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, or body surfing. Our family enjoyed many hours playing games in the pool (marco polo, diving for objects, pool volleyball and basketball). Great times of family bonding!
Swimming: Start ‘Em Young
In order for swimming to become a regular family activity, your child needs to learn the basics, and in my opinion, the sooner he or she learns, the better.
When we got a pool, our oldest was 4, and our youngest was 1. The first thing we did, after putting up the fence around the pool, was start swimming lessons. If you prefer to teach them yourself, here are some ways to get started:
- Get them used to having water splashed on their face from a young age, then later get them to put their faces down into the water. This will encourage confidence.
- Teach them to float on their backs, supporting them at first. I’ve heard arguments for and against arm floaties, but we rarely used them.
- Use a float to support them while they learn to kick their legs.
- Teach them to make arm movements, these may be like the “doggy-paddle”, which is the first stroke many kids first learn to use.
- Most importantly, encourage them to swim without flotation aids and build their confidence by teaching them how to jump into deeper water.
We had better success finding someone else to teach our kids. I still remember Miss Natalie, a gentle older lady who wore a large hat and socks in the pool. She gave my son his first swimming lessons before he was two. By the end of two weeks, he could jump in and swim across the pool, find the ladder and climb out. Of course, we had to give him refresher courses the next swimming season but it came back to him quickly.
Teaching your kids to swim early is never an excuse for parents to become less diligent, but it does give your child some tools to use should he or she fall in by accident.
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