Learn to Swim Tips
- Consistency is Key: Consider scheduling at least two swim lessons per week. The closer together the lessons are scheduled, the progress will be greater. Schedule at least 2 swim lessons per week. The closer together the lessons are scheduled, the progress will be greater. A ten-day intensive (ie. Lessons scheduled for 5-days in a row for 2 weeks straight) followed by bi-weekly lessons are recommended for greatest results. Lessons scheduled only 1 day per week will result in slower learning and progress. The physical and mental memory of children is not as sophisticated as that of adults, so if you go a week or longer between swim lessons, the progress that you child made last lesson will no longer be as valuable. For this reason, consistency is of the uptmost importance. If you currently have one lesson per week scheduled and you wish to add another day, feel free to contact the HAW office to discuss scheduling.
- Practice is Key: Spend at least 1 hour per week in the pool outside of class. This can include just "playing" in the water. Children can learn a tremendous amount during "play" time as it is not as formal and can be done in the comfort of their own home or an envoirnment which is familiar to them. As a parent, spending time getting into the pool and swimming with your child can be extremely valueable, especially if your child is not yet comfortable in the water or if they have any types of fears. If you do not have a pool at home, there are many public pools around the city that you can use for the day. If you have a friend or neighbor with a pool, consider setting up a pool play date with a very small group. You can also make a lot of progress in the bathtub. Some important skills that can be worked on in the bath are: blowing bubbles. splashing with hands and feet, kicking, putting ears/nose/mouth underwater, putting face in the water, and more.
- Patience is Key: Work through your child's fears with them and talk to them about what scares them most about putting their face in the water. You can find picture books that talk about swimming in a positive light. Or, you could create an incentive system with your child so that when they take small steps they are rewarded. The use of goggles can also be helpful -- try buying a pair for use at home to practice with in the bathtub. You can practice all sorts of skills in the bathtub and have it be a fun way to remember what your child was learning during their lesson. Encourage them by telling them if they can do it in the bathtub they can do it in the swimming pool too!
- New Habits are Necessary: Once the child has begun swim lessons, do not allow them to continue to use floaties or a blow-up ring. They need to get used to swimming without these devices in order to maximize their progress. Floaties often give children a false sense of self in the water and allow them to think they can swim when in fact they are not yet water safe. Instead of floaties, consider getting your child a kickboard or a noodle to use in the pool. These tools can help with floation but they are not attached to the child so the child still has to use his/her legs to kick as well as use their floating skills to stay balanced and on the surface of the water.
- Parents Around the Pool: Some children become distracted and are not as willing to try new things if the parent is around the pool. During the lesson, remain "out of sight out of mind" for the child. Perhaps just watch the class from a distance.
- Positive Relationship with the Water: We want to allow the child to develop their swim habits in a nurturing environment. Dunking or the "sink or swim" methodology is not recommended in helping the child establish a positive view of water and swimming. Many children have a fear of going underwater and this will be an important obstacle to overcome in the learning to swim process. Dunking can often times scare the child more and make them even more hesitant in their lessons. Instead, the instructor will use toys and games as well as goggles to help the child learn to feel comfortable putting their face in the water on their own terms. When practicing at home, use these same techniques. If your child is uncomfortable putting their entire face in the water, encourage them to put their ears, or nose, lips, or hair in the water. This can be a helpful stepping stone to get them to go all the way under.
- Ear Infections: Ear infections that are caused by middle ear build-up are not typically from swimming. Young swimmers can get "Swimmers Ear" if pool water or bath water in the outer ear canal does not fully dry out. In order to prevent "Swimmers Ear", make sure to towel dry your child's ears after swimming. You can blow your child's ears dry or you can use alcohol drops (available for purchase at any drug store). For further assistance, contact your pediatrician.
- Pool Safety: Whether you have a pool of your own or you frequent local public pools, the following tips are great reminders to keep your children as safe as possible around the water:
- Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool.
- Instructor babysitters or caregivers about potential hazards to young children in and around swimming pools and the need for constant supervision.
- If you have a pool at your home, completely fence the pool and install self-closing and self-latching gates.
- Do not consider young children "drown proof" just because they have had swimming lessons.
- Do not use flotation decisions as a substitute for supervision.
- Remove your pool cover completely when using the pool as children may become entrapped under it.
- Keep toys away from the pool area so that children are not tempted to play with them outside of the water and risk accidentally falling into the water.
- Have a telephone poolside to avoid having to learn children unattended in or near the pool to answer a call elsewhere.
- Learn the basics to CPR.
- Remind your children of basic water safety tips.
- Year Round or Seasonal? Swim lessons are often thought of as only a seasonal activity, but many parents choose to keep their children in lessons year round. So what is the right choice for your young swimmer?
- Note: Swimmers who are not yet confident and proficient in their skills tend to forget some of the skills they've learned after a long break. If you've put in the time during the summer to get your child to a certain skill level, it is often times beneficial to keep swim lessons going into the fall and winter so that their skills are not lost. Additionally, swimming is such a healthy activity that children enjoy immensely, so keeping your child in the water to ensure that their water safety skills can be honed is a often times a great option!