When we started a family, I had a long list of things I wanted to teach my kids. One of them was being comfortable around the water. I knew they would eventually hang out with their friends at the community pool, and we might go on beach vacations. I wanted them to be safe, and for me that meant swim lessons.
The importance of lessons. I read an article that said one of the biggest causes of death among young children was from drowning. The article also stated that formal swim lessons could reduce the risk of a child fatality by as much as 88 percent. That really convinced me that lessons were in our future. I read some other resources with more information, and here they are:
- Swimming Pool Safety
- Swimming Pool Safety: Layers of Protection
- Drowning Happens Quickly – Learn How To Reduce Your Risk
How soon can lessons start? It is suggested that a child is not ready for formal swim lessons until they are around 3 to 4 years old. By that age, they will have developed sufficiently to be able to participate, and will have enough attention to hear and retain what is being shared. But the process of swim lessons can start as early as 6 months, where a child is able to get in on Mommy and Me classes. While those groups don’t actually teach swimming skills, they are a wonderful orientation to get a child comfortable. Later when they are signed up for a group swim lesson, it’s not their first introduction to the water.
Where are lessons held? Typically you can find a swim lesson schedule at places like the YWCA or YMCA. There are also swim schools in most localities. A simple way to find lessons is just as simple as doing a Google search for “kid swim lessons” and add your locality.
Are lessons a summer thing? What if my child is developmentally ready now, but it’s now fall and heading closer to winter? I thought about this one, and then realized there was a real logic to signing my kids up in the fall for swim lessons. First, what do kids want to do in the summer? They have just gotten out of a year of school, and anything that is labeled “lesson” will make them wrinkle their nose. In the fall, kids are back in the habit of school, will pay attention better and be able to concentrate during lessons. So I signed my kids up in the fall, and it worked out great.
Mommy or the instructor? I used to swim competitively in college, which is where I got the love of water that I want to pass on to my kids. But just because I can swim well doesn’t make me a swim instructor. I don’t know the formal methods used to properly instruct a child on swimming safety, learning strokes, and the other things needed. Also, I have enough power struggles with my hard headed boys – I don’t want to try to get their attention for something as important as learning to swim.
Formal lessons mean a lifetime skill. It was amazing to see how quickly my boys grew in confidence around the water after they had swim lessons. Part of it was the instructor. He was very professional so every lesson had a purpose, and there was no wasted effort. I would have rolled my eyes at trying to corral a rambunctious group of youngsters, but he had no problem keeping them in line. Now they have a skill that they’ll never lose, that will benefit them all through their lives.
As I sit and watch the kids play in the community pool, I just have to smile at how comfortable they look. Lessons paid off, and they now practice safe habits around the water.Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside to discover interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint watercolors.