As the weather warms up and the days get longer, the thoughts of kids and adults alike naturally turn to lazy afternoons by the pool or on the beach. For a child that has yet to learn how to swim, however, those fantasies can be a bit less appealing. These are ten of the reasons why you might want to consider enrolling your child in swimming lessons, rather than opting to teach him yourself or simply forgoing the experience altogether.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends Swimming Lessons – While the official position of the American Academy of Pediatrics in the 1980s was that swimming lessons were not recommended for young children, the organization has reversed that decision after determining that the risk of danger inherently related to swimming lessons was relatively low, while the safety benefits greatly outnumbered them.
- Lowered Drowning Rates – Part of the data uncovered and reviewed by the APA regarding toddler swimming lessons showed that drowning rates among kids that had received formal swimming training were far lower than those among kids that were without training.
- Making New Friends – The physical and safety benefits aside, swimming lessons are usually held in a group setting that allows kids to explore social interaction among peers their own age. If your child isn’t enrolled in preschool and hasn’t reached kindergarten age, swim lessons can give him a chance to meet new friends. For older kids that have reached school age, lessons may include kids from other school districts, which allows him to expand his social circle.
- Aiding Physical Development – Learning to swim teaches your child to use his body in new and unfamiliar ways, which helps him to develop better coordination and muscle tone.
- Encouraging Physically Active Pursuits – In the age of the Internet and video games, getting kids to engage in a pastime that’s both physically active and exciting isn’t easy. Fortunately, swimming holds sway over most kids in a way that other pursuits simply can’t, so your child will be spending time eagerly expending energy, getting fit and helping to reverse the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
- Promoting Confidence – With every new skill mastered, your child’s confidence and self-esteem level grows. Enrolling your child in swimming lessons with a dedicated instructor whose committed to helping students excel will give him the opportunity to feel that surge in self-confidence.
- Experienced Instructors – While every grandparent has a story about being tossed into a lake by an unfeeling adult bent on teaching them to swim through necessity, the truth is that kids need actual instruction in order to master a new skill. Unless you’re a very accomplished swimmer, you may not have the skills necessary to pass a love of the water and an affinity for swimming along to your child.
- Eliminating a Fear of Water – Few things will set a child apart from his peers quicker than a fear of water that keeps him from pool parties, beach outings or trips to the lake. By enrolling your little one in swimming classes, you’re helping to ensure that he gains the skills he needs to banish a burgeoning fear of the water.
- Fostering a New Hobby – Kids usually learn to love a new hobby only after being exposed to it somehow. When she’s enrolled in swimming lessons at an early age, your child may discover a very real talent for and love of swimming that even leads her to pursue competitive swimming! Even if she never swims at a big meet, however, she’ll still have the opportunity to swim for fun and fitness.
- Introducing Kids to a Structured Learning Environment – Younger kids that haven’t quite reached the preschool age or who aren’t attending preschool may not have much experience with the kind of structured learning environment that’s just around the corner for them when kindergarten arrives. The structure of swimming lessons is a great way to introduce kids to a learning environment.
Make sure that the instructor or school you choose is fully accredited and everyone on the staff is certified in CPR and first aid so you can rest assured that your child is in safe, capable hands. Many parents find it more reassuring to attend classes with their kids, even if they’re only watching from the side of the pool. Some area community center might also offer “Mommy and Me” style classes that allow parents to actively participate in the teaching process, so be on the look out for those options as well.
Re-printed with permission from www.parttimenanny.org