Teaching kids to swim can be unbelievably rewarding and is of course of the utmost importance, though it can at the same time prove to be quite the challenge. The reason being that as a parent, it’s not as if you are automatically instilled with the knowledge and skills necessary to be a proficient swimming teacher. Above all else, you want your kids to not only have fun in the water, but also to understand the importance of water safety – getting them from their current position to that of being safe and happy in the water is quite the task to say the least.
So with this in mind, what follows is a quick introductory FAQ covering just a few of the most important questions parents tend to ask when teaching their kids to swim:
What Kinds of Supplies and Equipment Will I Need?
The equipment and supplies you will need will vary in accordance with the age of your child and their level of proficiency. For example, if you are teaching a baby to swim you will need the appropriate baby girls’ or baby boys’ costumes. If you’re taking your child on your own, then you should also consider an approved flotation devices such as a float jackets or swim rings. For older children, flotation devices may not be necessary, though again this is something of a judgment call in relation to their age and ability level.
What Is the First Thing I Should Teach My Child?
This is of course the most frequently asked and the important question of all as knowing how to get started in the first place is tricky to say the least. As far as most experts and swimming teachers are concerned, however, the first thing a child should be taught is how to use their legs to stay afloat and move through the water. Not only is this essential for the sake of water safety, but most kids genuinely enjoy kicking about and propelling themselves along. You can of course at the same time introduce basic hand and arm movements showing them how to tread water.
How Do You Teach a Child Not to Get Upset When Going Underwater?
Some kids will naturally have an aversion to the idea of going underwater and may find it quite upsetting when and where they do. As such, this is one of the areas of swimming tuition, which must be approached extremely gradually and gently at the child’s own pace. You could for example, teach them to hold their breath and place their mouth under the water for a few seconds, subsequently moving on to their nose and eyes etc. You can also introduce accessories like goggles to make things easier.
How Long Should It Take A Child To Learn How To Swim?
This question technically does not have an answer as each and every child will progress at an entirely different speed. Some kids take to the water for the first time as if they’d already been swimming for years, while others require much longer periods of time to pick up even the most basic skills. It is never a good idea to compare one child’s abilities to another as there is no such thing as a normal progression as such –just as long as a child picks up the necessary skills in the end, this is all that matters. If however, at any time you’re worried your child may not be progressing at all, consult with an expert.
Should Parents Really Take Control of Teaching Their Kids to Swim?
Undoubtedly the mother of all questions and the subject of heated debates, some experts insist that parents should not in fact take control of teaching their kids to swim. The reason being that it takes a great deal of dedication and expertise to pick up the skills necessary to effectively communicate swimming skills to kids. At the same time, however, the vast majority of experts insist that there is absolutely nothing wrong with parents introducing their kids to water and teaching strong water safety habits, though in most instances it is recommended to enrol kids in swimming school.
Now that is the million dollar question. There is a distinct difference between a teacher teaching a child to swim and a parent teaching a child to swim. The difference being that children will generally do what a teacher asks of them, but they will be more inclined to disobey or refuse the request of their parents, especially if they have any kind of fear of the water. It is for this reason that every visit to the swimming pool should be fun.
Is it Really Wrong to Teach the Doggie Paddle?
Last but not least, the fact that the doggie paddle is not considered an official swimming stroke often leads some to suggest that teaching kids to do the doggie paddle can be counterproductive. This is however completely and wholly untrue, however, as in the early stages at least, doggie paddle is the easiest stroke for kids to pick up and can work wonders for their confidence. What’s more, if the child is at least moderately proficient in doing the doggie paddle, they will be much safer in the water than they would be were they to know no swimming strokes at all.