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Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged swimming

Swim Lessons for Kids: 4 Reasons Every Child Should Learn

swimming lessons for kids
Photo by Flickr user Crieff Hydro Hotel

Swim safely this summer! Learn to recognize the 5 danger signs of drowning and find out how swim lessons promote safety, self-confidence, and more.

By The ActivityHero Team

Swimming is great way for kids to beat the summer heat. Before you hit the beach or pool, first teach children how to be safe in or near the water–including learning to swim. Here are 4 solid reasons to start kids on swimming lessons.

1. Safety

Since drowning is the second highest cause of death involving children ages 1 through 14, kids need to learn how to be safe in or near the water. With formal lessons, children learn how to swim in a safe environment, and are taught swimming strokes and basic water safety techniques like floating and treading water. For kids aged 1 to 4, a U.S. study found that risk of drowning decreased by over 80% if children had taken swimming lessons. If your child will be in or near water, make sure their lessons prepare them to do these basic life-saving skills:

  • Tread water or float for at least 60 seconds.
  • Turn in a circle and be able to locate an exit.
  • Swim at least 25 yards before exiting the water.
  • Pull themselves out of the water without a ladder present.
  • Jump into the water until fully submerged and be able to return to the surface.

Children should also be coached in common-sense safe behaviors including walking instead of running when near water, only swimming when an adult can supervise, and being aware of weather and environmental conditions.

Find kids’ swim lessons and swim camps near me > >

Meanwhile, kids aren’t the only ones who need education about water safety. Many parents think, “that couldn’t happen to my family” or “as long as there are many adults present, we’ll be fine”. Both of these are dangerous misconceptions. In fact, three-quarters of drowning deaths take place in private pools. And up to half of all kids who drown are less than 25 yards away from an adult when the drowning occurs (source). Remember, drowning children can’t yell for help or wave their arms to get attention. A child who is making no noise might be in serious distress.

To recognize the true signs of drowning, and for much more safety advice, visit this comprehensive safety guide by Moms Love Best.

Source: Moms Love Best

For parents of young children, remember these water safety guidelines:

  • Stay within an arm’s reach of your child
  • 1:1 supervision is best
  • At a party, designate an adult whose sole focus is watching the pool or hire a lifeguard

2. Strength & Fitness

Learning a swim stroke can help with gross motor skills and basic coordination. Swimming can help a child build all-around muscle strength in arms and legs.  

Once they learn to swim, a child has a skill that can be used to improve fitness throughout his or her life. Since swimming is a low-impact activity, it puts less stress on joints while providing a wonderful aerobic activity. Swimming can improve both strength and cardiovascular health in one activity.

3. Social Development & Confidence

Most swim lessons take place in groups, and as they learn to swim, children are also learning social skills such as observing peers and learning to wait their turn. Another benefit: socialization for water activities, as children learn the difference between acceptable behavior and rough play that might hurt someone else. That distinction teaches children responsibility for their actions. A third factor supporting social development is that children who really enjoy swimming will continue on to activities such as swim teams, in the process developing friendships which may last a long time.

Parents, check our blog post on ways to cope with the special situation where your child has a definite fear of the water. Once they move past this stage, being able to thrive in a new, unfamiliar environment is a building block for confidence. Children of all ages can benefit from the growth that comes with overcoming challenges to learn a new skill.

4. Lifelong Skills

Experts suggest that, compared to adults, children have a much easier time of learning to swim. For parents, knowing that their child has strong swimming skills will increase their ability to enjoy time around water.

When a child is comfortable in the water and swimming successfully, it is truly a rewarding feeling. A parent can feel a sense of satisfaction that they have given their child a tool that will serve them well throughout their life. 

Before you sign up for swim camps or lessons, do some research to find out more about swim schools near you. You may want to learn about instructor background, class size, teaching style, cost, and the features of their facility, including pool size or temperature.

To find top-rated kids’ swim lessons and swim camps near you, visit ActivityHero.

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swimming

Is My Child Ready for Swimming Lessons?

How do you know when your child is old enough to start swimming lessons? Here, what to look for, what to expect, & how to find swim lessons near you.

By Sarah Antrim

child learning to swim
The pools are about to open their doors again for the season, and big kids are getting excited to get back in the water.

For parents, it’s a good time to revisit pool safety tips. And if you’ve got little one, it might be time to consider swimming lessons. Swimming lessons can help improve kids’ safety near water.

But, how do you know if your child is ready? Here, some tips to consider:

When should my child start swim lessons?

Chances are that if you’re wondering if your child is old enough for swim lessons, the answer is yes. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently lowered its recommended age for starting swim lessons from 4 years to just 1 year of age. It has been shown that toddler who have had more exposure to water and even basic instructions are less likely to drown.

So even though most kids can’t necessarily swim at that age, it’s never too early to get them accustomed to the water.

How do I know if my child is ready?

Does your child express interest in the water?

Do they take to basic instruction well?

Do you plan on spending time at the pool this summer with them?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these, your child is likely ready for swim lessons. Even though the beginning swim classes are little more than blowing bubbles and back floats, any amount of exposure to the water helps children grow more comfortable in the pool.

What sort of time investment is involved in swim lessons?

Beginner swim lessons can start as early as 6 months and require a parent present. Most lessons typically last from 30 to 60 minutes on average so as to avoid the child losing interest.

Once children become a bit more self sufficient, usually between 3 and 5 years, they can take lessons without a parent present. These lessons are usually the same time frame, about 30 to 60 minutes, to withstand a dwindling attention span (and avoid finger prunes, of course).

What if my child is uncomfortable with new people or doesn’t take instruction well?

Many beginning swim classes require a parent present. If your child has grown out of the age range for this, talk to the instructor and see if they’ll allow you to stay with your child during the lesson. Hopefully your child will become more comfortable and be more willing to take instruction with your presence.

The good thing about swim lessons is that they are a low level of commitment and tend to be pretty affordable. If your child attends a couple classes and find that it’s not for him, you can take a break for awhile. You won’t have to worry about falling behind if you wait and try again in a few months.

(For more tips about overcoming water fears, check out 10 Tips to Ease Your Child’s Fear of Swimming.)

Where can I find a swim lesson class for my child?

Start your search for swimming lessons on ActivityHero. You can see schedules for local swim schools, read reviews from other parents, and register online.

Just remember to be patient, listen to your child, and don’t push them into something if they’re not ready.

Categories
swimming

10 Tips to Ease Your Child’s Fear of Swimming

Does your child dislike swimming? Changing your mindset can prep your child to take the plunge with confidence. Here, 10 tips to help them learn to love the pool.

By Reesa Lewandowski

swimming-can-be-fun
Having a child who has a fear of swimming can lead to some pretty tense times for your family — especially if the rest of you love to spend time at the pool. So what is the best way to start teaching your child to swim? First, try to work on getting your child comfortable in the water, and do so as early as possible. The older your child gets, the harder it may be to ease their fears. There’s no time like the present: In fall and wintertime, indoor pools offer the perfect place for you to introduce kids to swimming, get some aquatic exercise, and cure the cabin fever that can be all too common in colder climates!

Sometimes it’s a challenge to think like a child, but that can be just the ticket to easing your kid’s fear of swimming. Here are 10 great tips to help you get your child comfortable in the water:

1. Focus on the future.

While you may want your child to be comfortable in the water as soon as possible, resist the urge to push them to do too much too soon. Remember, they have a lifetime of swimming fun ahead of them; there’s no reason to stress over learning a lifelong skill in one day.

2. Follow your child’s lead.

If your child is comfortable in the shallow end, stay there.

3. Put the emphasis on fun.

Bring water toys and buckets for them to splash and play with. Let them see that the water can be a place to enjoy.

4. Let them sit on the edge.

Kids (and adults) love to dangle their feet in the water! Think of this as a time to cool your toes, and don’t worry so much about what comes next.

5. Stay on the steps for a while.

Imagine how big and scary a pool can look to a child! Pools with steps in the shallow end give kids a great place to sit until they are ready to go deeper at their own pace.

6. Say yes to splashing.

As a parents, we often discourage splashing, but it is a great learning tool to help your child to get comfortable in the water. Splashing helps them learn the feel of the water and how their limbs work in the pool.

7. Help them feel safe.

Once your child manages to get into the water holding on to you, be sure to hold on to their trust. Let them decide when they’re ready to do more or have you walk in a little bit deeper.

8. Show them the peaceful side of swimming.

One way to help kids see the pool as a soothing (not scary) place: Show them that they can float on top of the water! Buoyancy can be a hard concept for kids to understand. A great way to get them comfortable with floating: Stand in the water and hold your arms out straight in front of you, just below the surface, then have your child lay on his back with his head resting on one of your arms and his lower back, legs, or feet resting on the other.

9. Get a little silly.

One of the first things a child is taught in swim class is how to blow bubbles in the water. This is a good trick to keep the water out of your child’s nose when she dips her face into the water. And your kids will think it’s hilarious to watch you demonstrate! Turn it into a game: See who can blow bubbles the longest. Or pretend to be a motor boat.

10. Know when to towel off.

Once your child shows disinterest in the situation, allow her to take a break. This may be a good time to have a snack, take a nap, or or play a game out of the water. Keep each experience around the water positive and happy, and your child will likely come to love the water as much as you do!

Another great way to get a child swimming is to sign them up for a swim class or swim camp. Swim teachers and summer camp counselors often have a lot of experience easing kids’ fears of swimming. With time, the pool can be a place your child loves!