Friday, April 10, 2015

Preparing Kids For Swim Lessons {Guest Post}

Summer is just around the corner, which means there will be lots of swimming at local pools and trips to the beach for many of us. I have a guest post from Kaitlin who writes for An Apple Per Day sharing some of her tips for pool safety and getting kids started in the water.

When our boys were little, I had a lot of items to plan and think about. One of them was swim lessons. Our family would be going on beach vacations, and some day I want to own a house with a pool. More than anything, I wanted to ensure my kids were safe around the water. So I talked with the kids when it was time for swim lessons.

Start with the fun. I had a lot of great times when I was growing up, hanging out with my friends at the community pool. I knew that payoff would grab the attention of my boys, so that’s where I started. I told them that when they learned how to swim they opened a whole world of enjoyment, and that they would have as much fun as I did when I was a kid. They were intrigued when I talked in those terms. I wanted the whole water experience to stay positive, so I talked up that part a lot. Here are some great resources with more thoughts about kids and swim lessons:

Don’t scare them. It’s just a reality that there are inherent dangers with being around the water. I didn’t want to the boys scared of the water, so I had to be diplomatic when I talked about my safety concerns. I told them that I wanted to have them learn how to swim correctly, so they could have the most fun. I also wanted them to learn how to keep themselves safe in the water – like always swimming with a buddy, and following pool rules which were intended to keep them safe, while having a good experience.

Don’t tell, show. My older son was a natural water baby, so he was ready for lessons as soon as he could start. I had explained to him what the basic stroke was, and swung my arms in a basic crawl motion to show him what he would be learning. But I knew that he’d get a much better idea of what a class involved if I showed him. I had checked with the swim school I planned to use, and they were glad to have us sit on the sidelines to watch a lesson. As we watched the instructor take the kids through a series of exercises to learn the same movement I’d been showing him, I quietly explained what that motion would allow him to do. He was smiling and excited, and I knew he was ready.

Kids are different. My younger son was a lot more hesitant about the whole water experience, which I could tell when he was nervous and anxious as a baby during bath time. I had to assure him more, and reinforce the ultimate payoff – the fun of the water – before he became convinced about the whole process. I didn’t take him to the swim lesson initially. We just sat down and I asked him how he felt about swimming. He said he was concerned, and I could see anxiety in his eyes. I finally got him to say what worried him, and he said he didn’t know if he would be as good at swimming as his brother. We talked more, and I assured him it was not a comparison, but we just wanted him to enjoy the water. After several of these discussions, he was finally ready to hear what swim strokes were about, and from there we sat in on a class, and he was ready to take lessons.

As I watch the boys in the water, I smile at how relaxed and confident they are, and what strong swimmers they have become.

Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside to discover interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint watercolors.