Did you know May 16th is National Learn to Swim Day? While you might not find this special day on your calendar, it serves as a small measure to help parents to get their kids swimming and ready for the summer… and if boating is on your summer itinerary, that’s definitely important!
We’ve compiled a few tips that should be able to make the learning process simple, safe and lasting for both parent and child:
Know when they’re ready. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, most children aren’t quite ready for formal swimming lessons until they are about four years old… but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your little ones familiar with the water earlier than that! Exposure is always important. Even if your child isn’t quite able to learn and grasp important skills, you can still get them comfortable with the water by taking them in for small amounts of time—always watching them, of course, and equipping them with water wings or a lifejacket.
Stay safe. Whether you’ve embarked on the teaching journey or not, it’s still always important to instill in your child the safety measures that go hand in hand with swimming. If you have a backyard pool, be sure to have it fenced and locked so that your little one can’t wander in unattended. By demonstrating safe practices and talking about them early on, your child will know once they start swimming how to be safe and responsible themselves.
Sign up for formal teaching. Once your child is old enough, sign them up for a formal swimming class! A certified instructor will take the job of teaching important skills off your hands—all you’ll have to do is help reinforce these skills and stay patient during the learning process. As an added bonus, taking classes with other kids can help your own child socialize and have fun while in the water. If you can teach your little one early on to be comfortable, as well as safe, in the water, they’re sure to be more successful.
Always wear a jacket. As we mentioned before, many parents choose to equip their children with “floaties” or water wings while in the pool, but these are not adequate protection for heading out on the open water or on a boat for the ride. You can pick up a lifejacket specifically manufactured for smaller bodies so there’s no reason to stay home from a weekend trip to the lake or ocean!
Boost their confidence. While in the process of learning how to swim, your child will look to you for guidance and support. Be there to show them that swimming is fun and, when you’re safe, easy to do! You’ll see the effects of this confidence in their performance in the water.
Supervise. Of course, no matter how confident your young swimmer-in-training may be, it’s important to keep an eye on them whenever you’re at the pool, lake or ocean. Of course, this doesn’t need to be a stressful task… just make sure your child is within your line of sight and never goes in the water unattended.
Above all, relax—by following these simple steps, you can make swimming a fun and rewarding activity your child will treasure for a lifetime!