Not only is swimming an essential soft skill, but it is also a great way for kids to exercise.
If you want your kids to learn a sport that is actually helpful in real life, let’s see how they go with swimming lessons!
1. Soothe children’s fear of water by explaining why swimming is vital.
To many kids, engaging in water-related activities can be a frightening experience.
Some kids cannot cope with water poured all over their heads or getting splashed at by others, let alone diving into a swimming pool.
The overwhelming sensation of being surrounded by water can be too much for kids.
Plus, most kids imagine swimming means to hold your breath underwater, something that sounds downright impossible.
These factors contribute to the fact that a lot of children are fearful of swimming.
This is when you – as a parent – need to step in and help them overcome their fears.
You may want to start by telling them that while their fears are valid, there is no way parents, swimming teachers, and pool lifeguards let accidents happen.
Then, proceed to explain why swimming is such an important soft skill. You can use the checklist below.
- Swimming is an overall body exercise. It can help strengthen your arms and your legs, as well as your ability to take deep breaths and concentrate. Furthermore, swimming can help kids to destress and release endorphins, thus they are more likely to feel happy and content.
- For kids, swimming is the number one activity that can stimulate bone growth. Nothing adds a few more inches to a kid’s height than swimming lessons.
- In case of an emergency, a person capable of swimming can save themselves and even other people. Swimming is literally a life-saving skill.
2. Choose a suitable learning environment.
These are a lot of places where swimming lessons can take place.
You can check your neighborhood to see whether it has a local swimming pool.
If it does, make sure the pool complies with the safety standards.
While some kids are comfortable starting to learn how to swim in an adult pool, it is best that you look for a kid-friendly pool, especially during the first few lessons.
In case where you live does not have a swimming pool, you can invest in an inflatable pool – big enough for kids to learn the basic rules of swimming.
And please, think twice before you intend on taking kids to a river, or any other natural sources of water to learn swimming.
Swimming in such a restrictive, non-supervised environment does not guarantee the safety of your kids, however vigilant you are.
3. Start with the basic safety rules.
Sometimes, both the parents and the kids are too excited about the swimming lessons that they ignore what needs to be done to minimize the risks.
Before leading your child to the water, make sure they always carry a life vest with them.
“Why not flotations, like water wings? Or a circular lifebuoy?” – you may ask.
In fact, many pediatricians shun the idea of using air-filled devices, believing that they do more harm than good.
If a floatation is poorly made, it can burst out underwater, thus leaving the holder sink.
Or children can slip off the watery surface of these flotations, making them more vulnerable to underwater accidents.
Life vests – on the other hand – are much more useful when it comes to protecting children during swimming lessons.
While they can restrict the body movements at first, they will make sure your kids stay afloat, especially in deeper parts of the swimming pool.
Once the child is familiar with underwater movements, you can take off the life vests. But be sure to never take your eyes off them at the pool.
Another safety procedure that is usually overlooked is CPR.
You can be as cautious as you wish, but an accident can still happen.
Your kids can sink while swimming midway.
Or they simply have fallen into the pool without being prepared.
When these things happen, make sure you know how to handle the problem with the basic CPR.
4. Make underwater activities fun.
Swimming is not all about learning to save your lives and exercising.
It is also about having fun.
If your kids feel stressful about swimming lessons, there is no way they can utilize their potentials underwater.
There are some ways in which you can turn boring swimming lessons into something for kids to look forward to.
- Bring floating toys along. The toy industry has gone past the days when there were only duck-shaped flotations. Now, you can get a flamingo, a swan, or even a dragon.
Balls are also a great addition to swimming lessons. You can buy colorful balls for your kids to toy with when they need something to relax underwater.
- Host a small competition. Challenge your kids to stay afloat with you and see who can stay that way longer. Or you can dare them to hold their breath underwater for 5 to 10 seconds.
Remember, while these activities definitely spice up the swimming lessons, they can be a double-edged sword. Do not let competitiveness get to your kids’ heads. You do not want them to push their limits just to win the game, do you?
- Pretend to be a motorboat. You can hold your kid afloat by placing your arms under their stomachs. Use the motion of water and your movements to glide the kid from one place to another, while making the “Brrr” sound to imitate a machine.
5. Guide your kids through how to keep themselves clean and hygienic.
Diving into the swimming pool can be a refreshing experience, but the water there is not always purified and sanitized.
If you do not want your kids to get infected by anything underwater, there are a few things you have to pay attention to.
- Make the children take a shower before entering the pool. Many kids skip this step due to laziness, but dipping their bodies into the pool without a fast shower first can dispense dirt and bacteria into the surrounding area.
- Ask the kids to urinate beforehand. When surrounded by water, many kids feel the need to pee. Not only is it an unhealthy habit, but it can also affect other swimmers in the pool. Make sure your kid’s bladders are empty before they jump into the water.
- During their swimming lessons, tell the kids not to spit right into the pool. Water will definitely come into their mouths, and sometimes the urge to spit everything out is irresistible. Instead, ask them to lean over the edges of the swimming pool, and spit into the drainage cracks.
- Once the kid has left the pool, take them to the bathroom right away. Chlorine used in purifying pool water can leave unwanted effects on kids’ bodies.
Use a soft soap to clean up the children, and do not forget their private area. You might also want to wash their hair for them because frequent exposure to chlorine can make hair lose its softness and become sticky.
Some kids may experience dry eyes and noses after going swimming. To treat these symptoms, you can buy a bottle of artificial tears and a nasal spray to help with the moisturization.
- After the first few swimming lessons, most kids will feel extremely tired. It is because their bodies have not used to such demanding activities before. You can soothe their pain by gentle massages, and build a diet that makes them slowly regain their strength.
6. Invest in high-quality swimming gear.
When it comes to swimming, there are many things you have to buy if you want to optimize your kids’ underwater experience.
- A swimming suit. Many parents let their children dress casually when going swimming. However, normal clothes are not designed to uphold the pressure and motion of water. Wearing these pieces can restrict body movements, thus decreasing the effectiveness of swimming lessons.
- Ear bands. Ear bands are water-resistant cloths that help cover the ears. If your kids do not react well to having water entering their ears, these ear bands can lessen their pain.
- Swimming caps. Swimming caps can help the hair remain semi-dry – or at least not soaked in the water. For kids with long hair, a swimming cap can help hold everything in place.
- Swimming goggles. A pair of goggles can provide kids with a better vision underwater, thus making them more comfortable with swimming. Plus, goggles can help avert the water flow from directly touching the eyes, so the child will be less prone to optical dryness.
Having swimming lessons can be an intimidating experience, especially for small kids.
However, you should slowly guide your kids through their initial doubts and let them see how awesome it is for someone to be able to swim.
With your patience and support, sooner or later your kids will experience what it feels like to truly enjoy being underwater.