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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.

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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

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!

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After-School Activities Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

Beginning Competitive Swimming

Your child has incredible potential if they follow their heart in sports. Parents tend to struggle and put their children in a plethora of sports that aren’t a good fit before finding the one. As time goes on, kids start to weed out the sports that they’re either uninterested in, or that they might not have the natural talent for. As a competitive swimmer for 10 years now, I went through this process. I started off in soccer, than baseball and than basketball. I was signed up for the conventional list of sports that young boys are subject to. It took me until the age of eight to seriously consider competitive swimming. Although the popularity of competitive swimming is growing (think superstars like Michael Phelps), most people still associate the sport will lounging at the beach during the summer. This article will list the different levels of swimming for parents who are thinking of starting their kids with swimming from a young age.

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Swim Lessons

When considering swimming as your childs main sport, start them out in advanced swim lessons to see if they can pick up the basics of each stroke. Observe the swim lessons, and see how your child moves through the water, and whether or not they enjoy it. Are they picking up backstroke or struggling to stay afloat? Most often, kids will enjoy the feeling of being in the cool water on a hot summers day and will want to get in the pool regardless of their fear level. Everyone loves swimming but not everyone is a good match for a competitive team.

Summer Leagues

If your child aces swim lessons, consider signing them up for a casual summer swim team that you’ll find in most neighborhoods. This is a low pressure environment with coaches that most likely have been involved with the team for several years, and know how to coach children of varying degrees. Most summer league coaches actually swim on the same teams that they are coaching, so the level of dedication to a team is always present and good for your childs morale. I’m currently the head coach of my neighborhood swim team, and the environment that cabana teams creates and fosters makes the sport really fun. Summer league swim teams have practices during the summer only that do not cut into the school year; a major bonus if your child gets a lot of homework. It’s also a good option for your child if they feel burned out after a few months since they’ll have a whole school year to rest. Summer leagues tend to be where many serious swimmers find their passion. You can ask a lot of year-round competitors and they’ll tell you this is where they started to fall in love with the sport.

Year-Round Swimming

If your child/children have already tried out summer league teams and you’re sure that you want to dive in to the world of competitive swimming, you should try out for club team that trains all year-round. These teams are much more intense than the summer league teams since they provide a much larger staff of coaches and are run more like a business. I started swimming on a club team when I was 11 years old and swam with that club team up until I graduated high school. Club teams offer a competitive environment where swimmers can grow individually, but also be a part of relay teams and make friends that they can train with during their whole swimming career. On the flip side, be prepared because these teams are very intense and undoubtedly take up time as well as effort from the whole family’s life. It also capitalizes the most on the psychological aspect of swimming which requires discipline to become a star.

Why You Should Consider Swimming

One of the great things about swimming is that it’s both an individual and a team sport. Unlike many sports, swimming offers independence for each swimmer, since each swimmer is responsible for their own performance, and pushes themselves as hard as they want to. Having one bad day doesn’t lose an entire game, it’s a more independent experience. Each swimmer has to trust themselves and their coaches to be able to achieve the correct amount of training and rest. The team environment is essential to swimming. Having training partners makes tough practices much easier, and the best performances that many swimmers accomplish are when they are swimming on relays with the support of their teammates behind them.

Swimming should be looked at more when deciding what sports children should sample, since it provides both mental and physical benefits. Swimming uses all muscles in the body, and is very popular among adults since it is safer on joints and muscles. Swimming helped me get accepted to college, and undoubtedly helped me to stay on track with school and create a network of friends I will have for the rest of my life. So try out swimming when signing your child up for every sport you can think of. They might love it or they’ll at the very least learn how to swim and have a skill for life.

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After-School Activities Super Activities for Super Kids Uncategorized

Finding the Perfect Activities for a 5-Year-Old

Is your little one restless? One mom shares her tips for finding affordable, practical activities for a 5-year-old.

by Kristine Munroe

child with sandy hands

Find Classes, Workshops & Camps for 5-Year-Olds Near You >>

5-Year-Olds Have Opinions

I’m not a homebody. As soon as I could find activities for my son, Isaac, I signed us up. It started off as new mom/new baby groups before Isaac could even sit up. Then we graduated to mommy and me playgroups. And after he grew more active, we both loved Gymboree. Living in New England, I particularly grew desperate for classes where he could get some exercise during the winter months. So, I would just pick whatever suited our schedule and sounded fun to me. Easy enough!

But sometime after Isaac turned 2, he started getting opinionated. I signed him up for Soccer Tots through our local community education department. At the time, I thought the idea of 2-year-olds playing soccer sounded adorable. And, yes, it was adorable, but getting my stubborn little Isaac to participate was a challenge week after week. His favorite part was the snack break midway through the class. It wound up being really exhausting just trying to convince him to kick the ball into the goal.

toddlers playing soccer

After that, I realized that as Isaac left the baby/toddler stage, he was starting to develop his own interests. It was time to find activities that my soon-to-be 5-year-old would be enthusiastic about. I couldn’t necessarily just pick whatever I thought sounded cool anymore. Activities are supposed to be enriching, but above all, they should be fun — especially at the preschool age. The last thing I wanted was to drag him to weekly classes that he didn’t like. It would just be a waste of time, money, and the stress would suck the fun right out for both of us.

Trial Classes

Soon I discovered that many activities will allow you to do a trial class to see what it’s like. That was how we got hooked on Music Together classes when he was 3. Those classes were lots of fun. We’ve tried various trial classes here and there to see what would work. If we find something that Isaac loves, we usually will enroll for a few sessions.

Advice From Friends

We love to get advice from our friends, too.  Word of mouth is an awesome way to find out which classes are fun.  Ask around!

Looking for Deals

Price is also a big factor. Like many families these days, we’re on a budget. Activities can get expensive, but there are still plenty of options for reasonably priced activities or great discounts. I love to scour Groupon to see what deals I can find. I’ve seen Groupon deals for Gymboree classes, music classes, sports, ice skating lessons, ski lessons, and more. I’ve definitely taken advantage of these discounts. Often there are great sale prices, sibling discounts, and multiple session discounts on ActivityHero, too.

Community Rec Centers

Community recreation departments are other inexpensive places to find fun activities. From art to sports, they’re usually easy on the pocket book.  This past fall, we participated in a super fun farming class through a neighboring city’s community education department. The kids got to plant and harvest all sorts of herbs and hardy plants.

swimming-lessons-for-5-year-olds

Mommy’s Priorities

I like to keep practicality in mind as well. It was important to me that Isaac takes swimming lessons because of safety issues. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with him going off to summer camp or even playing alongside the Charles River without him knowing how to swim. And since we live in New England, I’d like him to learn a winter sport — ice skating, snowboarding, skiing, or something — because it seems like everyone here knows how to do a winter sport except for me.

Look For Activities With Added Value

I try to look for activities with certain perks beyond the specific classes. Places like Gymboree and My Gym also offer open play times, which is an absolute lifesaver in a Boston winter. The open play times give you and your kid an opportunity for unstructured play in a safe, indoor environment, and it’s covered by the cost of your monthly membership.

We also joined our local YMCA. I use it as a gym, plus it deeply discounts activities. So far we’ve done t-ball and swimming there. Many YMCAs are not just for sports; you can find lots of classes ranging from arts to music to cooking. Our family membership is worth its weight in gold.  You can also use it for discounted prices on after school programs, summer camps, and camps for school vacation weeks.

As for Isaac? Right now we’re about to head out the door for his final swim class of the year at our local YMCA. These swim lessons have been one of his favorite activities and he can’t wait to start up again next year.

Find Classes, Workshops & Camps for 5-Year-Olds Near You >>

Swim Lessons Around the U.S.