Today I have a guest post from Kaitlin of An Apple Per Day! Enjoy and welcome her in the comments!
When we started a family, I wanted to make sure my sons were well schooled when it came to swimming. I wasn’t sure how soon to start them in lessons, so I did some research. The lessons that are right depend a lot on the child – kids progress at different rates. I learned to watch my kids to see what would work for each of them.
How comfortable are they with water? One of my boys was a natural water baby. I could tell that from bath time. He figured out the joys of splashing fairly quickly. I knew his exposure to the water could progress fast. When he was six months old, I signed him up for a Mommy and Me class, and he was beaming with joy through the whole class. I found some great resources with more information about swim lessons:
- Swimming Pool Safety: Layers of Protection
- When Can My Baby Take Swimming Lessons?
- Tips For Swimming Lessons
What if they hesitate? My second son was a lot more cautious when it came to the water. He wanted to investigate the
bath, and even looked scared and cried the first few times we had to bathe him. I gave him a lot of reassurance and moved really slow. My instinct was that a Mommy and Me class would be too much stimulation all at once. I took the concept of lessons in a completely different direction with this son. My thinking was that if he feared the water and was exposed to it too quickly, it could be very damaging.
A slow introduction. When my second boy was about six months old, we began a very slow and patient introduction to the water. My husband and I took our son (in swim diapers) to the community pool. My husband held my boy, sitting in the shade back from the water. We sat there and let him look around and investigate everything. After he looked comfortable, I went in the water, and began laughing and splashing where he could see me. We did that for a short time, then went home. The next day, we did it all over again, for a short time. The third time, my husband moved a little closer. Soon my boy was watching me with a little smile on his face. He finally reached out for me, and I took him in my arms in the water. Things progressed pretty quickly from there.
Formal lessons. Once my boys were oriented to the water, when they were around 4 years old, we began with classes. The first ones were introductory and showed the kids how to do basic movements, survival skills and fundamental swimming concepts. When they were 6 years of age is when they had enough skills to begin a program that would teach them not only the swim strokes, but water safety and how to help others in an emergency. My first boy moved through to intermediate lessons as soon as he was the right age, but I had my more hesitant child repeat the beginning class, because he absorbed information in a different way.
Use the resources. When it was time to decide what lessons were right for my children, I didn’t try to guess, or figure that out on my own. I asked for help from a swim instructor at the school. He took each child in the water, worked with them for a few minutes, and gave me an assessment of which class would suit teach child. He was the one who recommended letting my younger boy see the beginning classes again, to better reinforce what he was learning.
My boys can both now swim and enjoy themselves in the water, because we made swim lessons a focus on our parenting world. It just makes me smile to watch them play in the pool.
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.