Today’s post is a guest post from Kaitlin Gardner of An Apple Per Day, who is chatting with us about swim lessons for littles. I thought this topic was extremely relevant for me, as I know I want to get Little Miss Anissa into a pool sooner rather than later. I think the fundamentals of swimming that babies can learn from early swim lessons are so important, and I really think it encourages a love for water! So without further ado, I’ll hand it over to Kaitlin!
Hi everyone, my name is Kaitlin Gardner, and I started a blog called An Apple Per Day to share my thoughts on happy family living. I live in Pennsylvania with my husband, who is also my best friend. Today I’d like to talk about swim lessons for kids.
When we started our family, I knew our kids would be around the water many times during their life. They would be hanging out at the community pool with their friends, we would go on vacations to the beach, and knowing how to swim would be important for them. I did a lot of research about how to properly orient our baby to the water. Here are some resources I found with great information:
Swimming Pool Safety: Layers of Protection
How To Teach Swim Lessons To A Baby
When can we start? It is generally recommended that a child is ready for formal swim lessons at around 3 or 4 years of age. By that point, they will have developed enough to hold their head out of the water, pay attention to an instructor, and get benefit from the lesson. But lessons about the water can start much earlier. I started by making bath time a chance for my baby to figure out how much fun the water can be. I let him discover the joys of splashing, and since I was smiling and laughing a lot, the water was associated with fun.
The introduction to the water. My husband and I took our baby to the community pool. My husband sat down in the shade not far from the water, holding our baby. I went into the water and began splashing around and laughing, just like I had done with him in the bathtub. My boy was focused on me the whole time. My husband then moved to the edge of the pool, and sat with his legs in the water. When my baby reached out for me, I knew things were progressing nicely. I took my baby, and held him in my arms. Of course he was wearing waterproof diapers, the ones recommended for the pool. He was perfectly content, and giggled with joy when I dipped his toes in the water.
The lessons begin. At around 6 months of age, I signed up for a Mommy and Me class. I knew my baby would learn quickly how much fun the water could be as he saw other toddlers having fun. It was a really enjoyable experience for both of us. Because we had already gotten our child accustomed to the water, the class only reinforced the water as a pleasant place to be.
Constant supervision. The basic rule with a toddler is that they must always be held while in the water. As they get more comfortable, the child might want to explore on their own, but they’re just not ready, and can get into trouble quickly. So being in constant touch – at most “arm’s length” distance, is an essential, and we followed that rule.
Swimming lessons. I was very cautious and checked out a class before we signed up. I watched the process, and how the instructor worked with the kids. When my child started his lessons, there was a purpose about everything. This was not about kids splashing in the water – the instructor kept the kids in line and learning things during every class. They learned how to tread water, water safety skills, basic swim strokes, and I knew my child would be well prepared to be in a pool, lake or on the beach. I had thought about trying to teach those swimming skills myself, but after seeing how well the instructor took the kids through the process, I’m glad I didn’t.
Now, I sit on the sidelines at our community pool and watch my kids splash and play with their friends in the water. I have to smile, because I have given them a set of skills that will come in handy for the rest of their lives.