What Can I Expect From My Child at 2 Years of Age at Swimming?

What you can expect your 2-year-old to learn in their swimming lesson?

Let’s break this down and look at some of the characteristics and developmental milestones your child maybe achieving during this age group.

 

Social and Emotional Development

  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Doesn’t like to share
  • May play with other children
  • Loves to imitate adults
  • Short attention span
  • Scribbles pictures

 

Social and Emotional Implications on the Swimming Lesson?

  • Establish pool safety rules within the lesson and follow through with these rules at home.
  • Try to limit the number of toys within a lesson as they can be a distraction. Toys can work if they are used for a purpose e.g. To calm an unsettled child or for an activity.
  • Demonstrate as child may want to imitate your actions and those around them
  • Keep the activities short and make the time in the pool with your little one fun.
  • Read books with your child about swimming. To start your off follow this link: www.kidsalive.com.au to subscribe, download and receive some exciting books for free.

 

Physical Development

  • Climb up and down the stairs
  • Kick a ball
  • Jump from small heights e.g. steps
  • Learning to dress themselves
  • Confident with physical abilities
  • Start testing their limits.

 

Physical Implications on the Swimming Lesson?

Hold onto your hats parents your children are now moving fast and have their own ideas.

Let’s look at how we can implement these physical developments into a lesson.

As 2-year olds start to feel more confident in their own abilities they should be participating in activities where they can monkey and climb out of a pool independently.

Let your child explore around the pool steps and ledges and hold their hand (as they can’t jump out well yet) to teach them how to jump in and turn back to safety.

 

REMEMBER be vigilant and provide a safe, fun learning environment.

 

Language Development

Communicating with your child at this age can be tricky, especially when you’re trying to understand what they want. Children at this stage can

  • Name most objects
  • Speak in short sentences but sometimes don’t make sense
  • Follow more complex instructions

By knowing this, keep your questions simple and use short sentences. Sometimes children may be too shy to speak so watch for non-verbal cues as well.  By this stage, you can add more complex swimming activities into the lesson e.g. show them to hold a kickboard to push and float out to parent/teacher.

It’s important to remember children are different and progress at different rates. This is meant to be a guide only.  If your child is ahead of this guide or not quite up to these activities be patient, teach to their likes, dislikes and abilities and enjoy the time you spend in the water with them.  Swimming with your child at any age can be a great bonding experience.
 
How do you keep your child improving?  Please share in the comments below.
 
To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!
 
Leesa Langdon

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

3 Safety Skills to Practise at Home or Away from Lessons

Swimming lessons are a great way to introduce your child to the water in a safe, controlled environment under the guidance of an instructor.  During swimming lessons, you should be learning several water safety skills and drills that will assist your child in becoming safer in and around the pool.

Ensure your child has the best chance of learning water safety skills by giving them opportunities to practise outside of the formal swimming lesson.  If you are lucky enough to have a pool at home, you will be able to practise with your child on a regular basis.  This will speed up the learn to swim process.  If you don’t have a home pool you may be able to venture down to the local public pool or visit a neighbour who has a pool for some extra water time.

Spend 5-10 minutes practising safety skills at the start of each play session as a refresher for your child each time they go swimming to ensure water safety a priority each time they enter the pool.

The following water safety skills are great to work on at home or somewhere away from lessons and may help your child if they ever get into difficulty while swimming.

 

  1. Return to safety.

Set a designated safety zone in the pool.  This area should be shallow enough for the child to be able to stand up independently or somewhere they can hold onto, for example a pool deck, entry steps, ramps or the shallow end of the pool.  Educate your child about the safe swimming area, and if the pool is lacking a safe area you will need to designate yourself as the safe zone.

Younger swimmers may need your assistance in the beginning.  If they have been conditioned in lessons and are comfortable being submerged, you can physically turn them back to the safe area so they learn where to go.  Be consistent and always use the same key words when teaching swimmers certain skills.  For example, each time you practise turning to safety, use the phrase “turn to safety (their name) ready go”, then submerge the swimmer and turn them to the safe zone.  If your child is ingesting water, showing signs of discomfort, or hasn’t learned to hold their breath to go under water yet, skip submersions and practise the skill on top of the water so they are still learning where the “safe zone” is situated. Repeat this skill 6-8 times and then enjoy some play time with your child.

Older swimmers who are more independent and confident in the water can be encouraged to swim into deeper water and return to the “safe area” under close supervision – remain in the water within arm’s reach if necessary.  Encourage your child to repeat the skill 6-8 times and then allow him/her to play and explore the water while you actively supervise.

 

  1. Hold on to the pool deck / side of the pool

It may seem simple, but learning to hold onto the side of the pool while supporting their body weight could make all the difference to your child in an emergency.  This skill can be done easily in any pool.  If swimmers are comfortable with submersion and can grip and hold on to your t-shirt or fingers without letting go, you can encourage them to hold onto the side of the pool.  Always remain close so that you can gently guide your child back to the surface to hold the wall if they lose their grip.  Encourage older, more confident swimmers to experiment during this activity by voluntarily letting go, submerging and feeling the water float them back up to the surface where they can reach out and grip the side of the pool again.  Supervise closely and remain within reach to assist your child if necessary.  Repeat this skill 6-8 times before enjoying some play time with your child.

Extension Activities: Once swimmers are gripping well and are strong enough, they can work on monkeying along the wall back to the” safe zone” or climbing out of the pool depending on their age or physical capabilities.

 

  1. Climb out of the pool.

This is a great skill for swimmers who are physically strong enough to pull their own body weight up and out of the pool.  If swimmers are confident to jump into the water, turn around and climb out independently, check that the water depth is appropriate and encourage them to do so under strict supervision.  If it is a pool your child isn’t used to, ensure they can climb out and provide support or assistance where necessary.  Some pools may have an overflow deck and others may have a high wall so this activity may have varying levels of difficulty depending on the type of the pool you are using.  Always assess each venue and communicate with your child what they will need to do or any rules to follow prior to entering the water.

For swimmers who are less confident in the water, simply encourage them to jump to you so you can guide them back to the side and assist them while they climb out of the pool to safety.  Remember to always use the same key words or instructions when doing safety activities with your child.  For this activity use a simple phrase like “jump, turn and climb out (child’s name) ready go.”  Repeat this activity 6-8 times then enjoy some play time with your child.

 

Take home tips:

  • If any of these safety activities are part of your regular swimming lessons, use the same key words your instructor has taught you to keep it consistent and avoid confusing your child.

 

  • Remember each pool you visit with your child will be different and the pool that you have lessons in may be different to your home or neighbour’s pool, the local pool, or a resort pool if you are taking a family holiday. Always communicate with your child about the “safe zone” and pool rules in new environments.  Practising water safety skills in various environments will assist your child in becoming safer around the water.

 

  • No child is ever “drown proof” and you should always exercise close supervision.

 

  • If you have small children it is a good idea to keep the water level of your pool topped up as it will be easier for them to climb out and reach for the side of the pool. They will be able to rely more on the buoyancy of the water to support their body weight while holding the edge or climbing out rather than their arm muscles having to do all the work.

 

The age of your child will be a factor in determining which safety skills are appropriate for due to their growth and development stage.  If you are unsure, ask your instructor at regular lessons for some “homework” or safety skills that will be appropriate for your child to practice away from lessons and enjoy making the learn to swim process happy for your family.

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Kate Lawrence

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

Getting a fright and going backwards in swimming

It’s easy for children to get a fright in the water and lose confidence in their swimming ability. Sometimes parents and swimming teachers can pinpoint the exact scenario and act immediately to help get the child back on track. Other times parents can be left wondering why their child has a sudden lack of confidence and is displaying a timid approach to their swimming lessons. 

 

I’ve observed children on many occasions lose confidence because the adult has moved backwards during a swim and the child has struggled to make the distance. Yes, just this very simple action can affect a child’s learn to swim progress. They may quickly become reluctant to swim off the ledge or arch their back in protest when before they have been very relaxed. In this situation, it’s important to go back to a very short swims where the child makes the distance easily as this will build their confidence. Even just a little jump and cuddle with no submersion may need to be the starting point. Remember if you have told a child that you won’t move keep your promise. It’s important that we maintain trust with the child when teaching them to swim. 

 

Common scenarios that can cause a setback

  Taking in a mouthful of water or getting water up the nose

  Struggling to make it to the side of the pool 

  Getting out of their depth

  Becoming reliant on goggles

  Being pushed to perform a skill before they are ready

  Boisterous play with other children

 

These are only a few examples of things that can happen to make a child lose confidence in their swimming ability. The good news is that we can easily overcome this apprehension if we take a careful approach to get the child back on track. 

 

Play in shallow water 

Children will feel much more relaxed when they are in shallow water. Here they are in complete control of their learning and don’t need to rely on the adult for support. It can be intimidating and frightening for children when someone else takes them out of their depth. I would certainly encourage the parent or caregiver to participate in the lesson with the child. Here they can demonstrate to the child how relaxed and happy they feel in the water. But shallow water avoids parents or teachers having to over handle the child. Remember there are lots of swimming activities you can do in shallow water including breath control, back floating, crocodiles along a ledge to develop paddles while the legs learn to float. Be creative and don’t rush the child. 

 

Revise the foundations skills 

Remember we should follow a building block approach when teaching children of any age. Start again with the learn to swim principals of water familiarisation, breath control, submersion, floating and propulsion. By revisiting the foundation skills we set goals and activities that are easy for the child to master and this in turn builds their confidence. Remember even the best swimmers need to perfect streamlines and their body position in the water in order to excel. Therefore revising the foundation swimming skills should never be seen as a backwards step. 

 

Frequent exposure

If children are showing apprehension or a fear it’s important they are given a lot of opportunity to practice. Once again it’s about building their confidence and a week in between swimming lessons is a long time. Combining a play swim on Saturday and Sunday with the formal swimming lesson during the week will give great results. Booster blocks or holiday intensive programs are also ideal for timid swimmers. Remember some children will take longer than others to warm up or become relaxed in the water environment. It may be a good idea for you to arrive early to the swimming lesson so your child can acclimatise and watch other children enjoy the classes. 

 

Don’t stop swimming lessons

Some parents choose to pull out of swimming lessons when their child show signs of fear, apprehension or dislike to classes. Stopping swimming lessons at this stage is not recommended. Very often this results in children becoming more fearful and when parents try to recommence swimming lessons they are faced with the same or worse problem. I must stress that using fear, force or intimidation to achieve swimming results is totally inappropriate. Swimming must be a happy experience for both parent and child. 

 

If you have a child who is fearful of learning to swim or who has lost confidence in their swimming a ability don’t become frustrated or disheartened. It’s important not to force the child to do things they’re not comfortable with. We should read their body language, let them take the lead and gently encourage them to get them back on track. The main focus should be to have fun and choose games and activities that are easy for the child to achieve which will build their confidence in the water. Don’t underestimate the importance of regular play in a variety of different environments. If you follow these suggestions, you will have a happy, confident little swimmer in no time at all.

 
To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Emma Lawrence

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

Dressing for Swimming Lessons

Parents often wonder about the best way to dress their children for sporting activities.  What is the correct outfit for running, gymnastics, soccer and swimming?  What do all of the other children wear?

There are many different options for swimwear/accessories for swimming lessons.  Here are our suggestions for swimming attire for lessons.

 

Young swimmers who aren’t toilet trained should wear a swim nappy.

Swimmer nappies make life easier for parents attending lessons.  They work just like a regular nappy and are designed to be submerged under water.   Regular nappies will fill with water and swell up.  They also become heavy and will weigh a child down during lessons.   Swim nappies are designed to contain urine and fecal matter until nappy is changed and will help the swim school with water filtration and cleanliness of the swimming area.

Single use nappies can be purchased in the supermarket and thrown in the bin after each use.  There are also some types of swimmer nappy that are reusable with a plastic lining and cloth outside.  These reusable nappies can be emptied, washed out and reused each swimming lesson.

 

Caps and Goggles

We recommend that caps are worn once hair is long enough to affect performance by getting in the eyes, ears, nose when participating in lessons.  Caps can be made of materials such as latex/rubber to silicone to lycra.

Rubber/waterproof type swim caps are mostly worn by older swimmers and slide on over the child’s head.  They usually come in a standard size and stretch to fit quite tight over the swimmers head.  Hair is then tucked up inside the cap so it doesn’t drag down behind the swimmer in the lesson.    They can pull longer hair as they are placed on the head if wearer is not well practised in putting them on.  These caps are great for keeping hair or ears dry (when teamed with earplugs) and come in many different brands and colours.

Lycra/material swim caps are often easier to slide onto smaller heads as they tend to slide on more easily and not pull hair.  These caps do not keep hair dry and are used to keep hair out of the eyes when swimming.  They are quite easy to put on and don’t pull the hair as they go.  As these caps are used more they tend to stretch and lose their elasticity a little so should be washed and hung out after the lesson to keep them in good condition.

Goggles should be worn only when a swimmer is confident submerging under water and can open their eyes under water and return to safety.  Goggles can often give swimmers a false sense of security for viewing underwater.  It’s important to remember that when children fall in the pool they may not be wearing their goggles so they should continuously practise a little bit of swimming without goggles in their lesson/play time.

There are many different types of goggles available for swimmers.  WWSS recommends that parents spend money on a pair of goggles that are all one moulded piece and don’t have any small parts around the nose or side that can snap and break or the parent/instructor will have to spend time fiddling around with.  The side pieces should be easily loosened/tightened and should be able to be used and adjusted by the swimmer.

Caps and goggles that are sold at your swim school are usually good quality and can usually be adjusted by swim school staff to fit your child properly.

 

Swimwear – be practical!

Swimwear should be comfortable for the swimmer but try not to dress swimmers in too much clothing.  Board shorts are better suited for beach attire than swimming lessons as lots of material tends to get in the way and weigh swimmers down.  1 or 2 piece swimwear works well too.  Underpants shaped or bike pant length swimmers work well for older swimmers.  Be sun smart if participating in lessons in an outdoor pool but remember that the more material surrounding the swimmer the harder it is for their propulsive skills.  Tighter swimwear works better for movement through the water.
 
To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

Why Is Parental Involvement Important In Swimming Lessons?

Baby and Toddler swimming lessons often recommend that parents stay in the water and participate in their child’s lesson.  WorldWideSwimSchool is a huge believer in parents staying involved in the learning process until the age of 4.  This article will discuss the many reasons that we believe in parental involvement in the learn to swim process.  Of course we understand that every swim school, family and individual situation is different but our philosophy remains the same for teaching swimming to children under the age of 4 years.

 

Maximum Practice Time

Parents in the water with their children increase the time that each swimmer is able to participate in activities within the lesson increases.  The one on one practice and support gives swimmers an opportunity to be constantly practicing and honing skills needed for great propulsion through the water.  Parents can assist with keeping swimmers moving whether they are moving in a wave formation all together or in a circuit or circular formation where swimmers take it in turns.  No matter how great an instructor is, there will always be more practice and movement with parent involvement in the water.

Parental involvement important in swimming lessons 4

Physical Manipulation

Parents can place hands on their child and physically manipulate arms and legs to create great swimmers.  Physical manipulation of kicking and paddling creates neuromuscular patterns between the brain and the muscles.  The more a child can receive physical reinforcement the better their skills will become.  Parents should ensure when manipulating that:

  • Paddles are focused on actions under the water – getting a good feel for the water will help a child move through the water effectively
  • Restrict the depth of the kicks so that the knees are bent just a little bit – too much bend in the knee will promote bicycle kicks or create a less effect kicking pattern
  • Paddle manipulation works better when done on the spot as opposed to hopping/moving through the water. Manipulate with swimmer on your knee and then send them on their way
  • Kicking manipulation is best done with a kickboard or on the ledge to stabilise swimmer and keep them on top of the water. If kicking manipulation happens in deeper water swimmer may get a fright or be unable to take a breath when needed.

 

Safe and Secure Environment

With parents offering 1 on 1 supervision within the lesson under the watchful eye of the instructor, swimmers safety is paramount.  It is important that instructor and parent not only discuss but practice safety scenarios such as safety slide in the water from the side, climbing out independently if possible, turning back to safety, only swimming with parent supervision and more.

 

Parent and Child Bonding

In today’s busy society there aren’t many opportunities where parent and child can spend half an hour focused on each other!  Technology, siblings, other activities and more take up most of the precious time in our daily lives.  Swimming lessons offer parent and child a special bonding time where everything else is left outside the pool and the focus is on the swimming lesson.

 

Discipline

Having parents in the water is a huge help in the disciplining of the class for the instructor.  Many parents have different styles of parenting and disciplining their children.  With parent participation in the water they can ensure that this discipline style continues throughout swimming lessons.  It can be a difficult task to keep a group of young swimmers listening, sitting still waiting for their turn and on task!  Parents can help instructors achieve that by assisting their child within the swimming lesson.

Having the parent in the water and participating in the swimming lesson doesn’t mean that the child ‘needs’ their help to swim.  Of course they may be proficient in their skills to swim by themselves.  Swimmers will have the opportunity to practice independent swimming throughout the lesson but by achieving the things discussed in this article parents, instructors and swimmers will work together to produce swimmers with excellent technique, a good feel for the water and a love for swimming and water safety.

Parental involvement important in swimming lessons 3
To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

School Holiday Swimming

Have you had a break from your regular swimming lessons over the holiday period?  Are social commitments interfering with regular attendance to your lessons at this time?  There are still ways to ensure that your child is practicing the skills used in swimming lessons.  Here are some tips to help:

Get In The Water

Even if you can’t make your regular lesson throughout the holiday period try to get your child into the water at least once a week.  Whether it’s the local pool, beach, river or dam – exposure to water is a great way to keep skills up to date and apply skills learned in swimming lessons.  Warmer climates will offer many avenues for getting wet but even if it’s not Summer where you are (or if you’re lucky enough to be on holidays in a cooler climate) there should be opportunities to swim at holiday park, hotel or resort pools.

 

Practise Skills

While in the water take the opportunity to practise those skills that are taught during weekly lessons.  Remember the Learn To Swim process and pick skills from each building block that are appropriate for your child.

  • Water Familiarisation
  • Breath Control
  • Submersion
  • Floating
  • Propulsion
  • Breathing
  • Water Safety

 

Exploration

Studies have proven that exploration is a great way for children to learn new milestones and improve existing skills.  Give your child ample experience to play, explore and enjoy time in the water.  This fun exploration time may offer them the opportunity to experience skills that they haven’t yet tried at their lessons.  They may improve existing skills by playing and enjoying some free time in the water in a less structured environment.

 

Have Fun!

Ensure that your child is enjoying the swimming experience by joining them in the water.  Participate with your child and see the joy on their face of spending fun time in the water with their parent.  Races, games and water discovery are all great ways to bond with your child while improving skills in the water.  You may even improve your own skills!

Enjoy the holidays and time off with your child and make the most of any time spent in the water!

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

How Long Will It Take My Child to Learn to Swim?

One of the questions we are continually asked is how long it will take a child to learn to swim.  The truth is – we really don’t know!  This is such a hard question to answer – there are so many factors that come into play when considering this.  These factors will be discussed in this article and may give you a better understanding of what helps children to learn to swim.

 

What Is The Reason For Attending Swimming Lessons?

Some children attend swimming lessons after a fright in the water or bad experience.  These swimmers will obviously take longer to relax and feel comfortable in the water.

There are other children who haven’t had a fright but have never been exposed to water.  They too may take a little longer to acclimate into the watery environment.

Some swimmers may have spent lots of time splashing and playing in the water so may start off quite confident even though they don’t have any official swimming technique in the water.

Does the swimmer actually want to learn or are they attending because their parent wants them to?

These factors and many more will contribute to the speed in which a child learns to swim.

 

What Is Their Prior Experience?

If a child has had lessons before this may impact the rate of their learning.  Whether or not they enjoyed their lessons will be another factor in their learning.

Prior experience in the water in general will also impact learning.  Have they spent much time in the water?  Pool, beach, rivers, dams etc are all bodies of water that swimmers may have played in prior to attending lessons.

 

How Often Do They Swim?

If a swimmer attends 1 lesson per week for the entire year without missing a session, the total amount of time participating in a lesson is 26 hours for an entire year.  Within that lesson there will be times where the swimmer is listening to instruction or waiting for their turn, which will bring the practise time down even further.

The more a child can practise their skills, the faster they will learn.  Attending 2 lessons per week gives a child a good kick-start to their learning journey.

Practise not only occurs in swimming lessons but in play.  If swimmers have the opportunity to play in home pool, friends pool or at the local public pool between swimming lessons they will improve exponentially.

 

Do They Spend Time With Older Swimmers?

Many children learn from watching older siblings or friends.  If swimmers are playing/watching their older peers they may try to “keep up” or copy and become better at certain skills during this time.

 

Do They Have Processing Difficulties or Physical Challenges?

All individuals learn differently.  Those with additional needs may need support and patience to learn at their own pace.  Some may enjoy the solitude of being underwater or the freedom they feel with floating and may learn at a faster pace than expected.

 

Are They Consistent in Their Attendance?

Does your swimmer miss lessons due to sickness, other commitments, lethargy and more?  As discussed previously, the more a child can practise their skills the faster their skill acquisition will be.

 

Do They Swim All Year Round?

Swimmers who participate in lessons throughout the entire year will have a better chance at progressing faster than those who take a break.

If parents are considering giving children a break throughout the year the best time to do that is in the Summer time, especially if they spend a lot of time in the water during this time.  Their skills will continue throughout the Summer if they are exposed to the beach/pool/water etc.  During the Winter most swimmers don’t get much time in the water so that would be the best time to attend lessons if a family had to choose a season to swim.

 

This article has discussed many questions that may arise in being a factor in how long it will take a child to swim.  Of course there are so many individual factors for each situation that every swimmer will be different.

 

Remember to consider that each and every swimmer is an individual and will learn at a different pace.

 

Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

3 Tips to Assist Your Child The Learn to Swim Process

Parents often ask how they can help their child in with their swimming lessons.  Here are some quick tips to assist parents in providing the best swimming experience for their child. 

 

  1. Engage in Your Child’s Learning

Swimmers who are in the water with a parent (usually in an infant program or in the occurrence of a child who needs extra assistance) are lucky in that their parents are participating in the lesson.  However, there is a difference between attending a lesson and being involved in a lesson.  Swimming instructors love parents who are willing to participate and get involved in the learning process.  If you are in the water with your child, ensure that you are actively participating – listen, ask questions if you don’t understand and partake in every activity to the best of your ability.  Parents are the true instructor when they are in the water – the instructor is the facilitator and can make your swimming lesson an exciting and fun experience.

 

Parents whose children are participating in a lesson without them have a bigger challenge ahead of them to engage in the lesson.  It is easy to take the time away from your child to plan family activities, check emails or daydream but a swimmer who’s parent is engaged in their lesson will participate more fully in the learn to swim process.  Find a spot around the pool are where your child can see you and you can see your child.  Watch the lesson making eye contact with your child where possible.  Give non-verbal feedback throughout the lesson such as nodding, smiling and clapping when they look to you for support.  After the lesson is finished, discuss specific drills or skills that you saw your child participating in so they know that you were watching and interested in their lesson.  This is also a good tactic to use in swimming lessons where you may not be able to make eye contact with your child due to a busy centre or viewing areas.

 

  1. Communicate With Your Instructor/Swimming Centre

Get to know your swimming staff.  Learn their names and a few things about them.   If the staff see you and your family as more than “a client” it’s natural that they will take interest in your child’s learning.  A holiday card or thank-you gift can go a long way in staff/instructors feeling appreciated.  Happy and appreciated staff will go above and beyond for their clients and families.  Ask questions at an appropriate time about your child’s progress and what you can do at home to help them improve.   If an instructor knows that you’re serious about your child’s improvement and willing to put in the work they will follow suit.

 

  1. Give Opportunities for Practice

Allow children ample time and opportunity to practice skills learned in the swimming lesson.  If you have achieved the previous 2 suggestions you will know what to work on in your home pool or at the local public pool.   Make practice time fun – your child doesn’t have to participate in drills and skills all the time to improve – practice and play go hand in hand and compliment each other while having fun and improving.

 

Parents play a huge role in their child’s improvement.  Don’t forget to participate, discuss and give opportunities for your child to improve and the whole family will enjoy the process.

 

Do you do the 3 tips above already?  Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

Patience & the Learn to Swim Process

Swimming lessons are a great investment.  Not only are you providing your children with a skill for life, you are giving them an advantage in the areas of social, emotional, physical and intellectual development.  A four-year study conducted by Griffith University has found what swimming industry leaders have suspected for decades.  Children who attend swimming lessons from an early age are ahead of their non-swimming peers when it comes to reaching developmental milestones.  Results of the study can be found by clicking the link below.

http://2mcodc1nn9ch3n8y34tmi0yx.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/2013-EYS-Final-Report-30-July-13-JM.pdf

While the results of this study are fantastic, it is important to remember that learning to swim takes time and patience.  It takes dedication and commitment and can sometimes be a slow process.  There may be some times where you get frustrated with this process and want to push your child through the program in order to get them into mini-squad or stroke development groups yesterday.  When the frustration sets in, try to relax and keep the following points in mind.

 

  • The number of swimming lessons you attend per week will impact on your child’s improvement rate. Swimmers who attend one lesson per week will rarely progress at the same rate as swimmers who attend two or more lessons per week.  If the cost of swimming lessons is holding you back from attending multiple lessons, think about getting in the pool at home or at a friend’s house and practicing some of the skills your child is working on at their classes with them.  You can ask your child’s instructor for some tips.  Alternatively, head to a public pool on the weekend to swim, play and explore in the water.  Make it a “get fit with the family” outing so you can all reap the benefits of learning to swim.

 

  • Taking seasonal breaks can halt a swimmers progress. Many families see swimming as a summer activity.  Once the weather starts to cool and winter sports start up, it can be difficult to juggle multiple activities.  Often swimming lessons are dropped until the weather warms up again.  Other families will swim year around – rain, hail or shine!  Figure out what works best for your family and follow that path.  If you decide to take a break, try not to get frustrated if your child is no longer in the same group with their friends who have continued swimming lessons in the winter months.  Depending on the age of your child they may have even regressed and not be able to perform certain swimming skills to the same standard they could before a break.   The same thing happens to us if we take a break from the gym, so go easy on your little swimmers.

 

  • Trust the advice of your child’s instructor and the team of swimming professionals working at the swim school you attend. Remember that individual swim schools will have certain curriculums to follow when they are teaching swimming.  This means that your child may have to master and perform certain skills before progressing to the next stage or level.  If you have concerns about your child’s progress, talk to their instructor or the management team so you are aware of what your child needs to work on and what the lesson focus is for your child’s group.  Remember, swim instructors are passionate about their jobs and have the swimmers best interest at heart.  Communicating with the swim school team will allow you to work together to get the most benefit out of swimming lessons for your child.

 

Do you attend year-round swimming lessons with your child or children?  Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

10 Things to practice in the home pool

Time in the pool outside of swimming lessons is extremely important and conducive to your child’s learning, progression and development in the water, as well as to his/hers actual learn to swim lesson. As swimming teachers, we know that sometimes the hardest child to teach any skill or activity to may indeed be your own. I often refer to it like taking your first driving lesson with your partner. So how do we do it, I hear you ask? There are many approaches you can take but the most important one that we find never fails is simply to make it FUN. Fun never fails. Fun in the pool with your child in a less structured environment will increase independence and help your child develop a deeper respect of the water. We recommend the use of incentives such as toys or coloured balls. You know your child better than anyone else so don’t hesitate in using whatever you think might work for your child. Weather and temperature are also factors to take into consideration when trying to get the most out of your time in the water with your child. We recommend that partaking in the following activities and skills will definitely give you bang for your buck when it comes to your regular weekly lessons.

 

Controlled Kicks

Assisting your child with their kicking will give your child a better understanding of movement and propulsion in the water. By simply placing your child on their tummy and bringing their arms around your neck (cuddling you) and placing your thumbs on their calf muscles, you can gently manipulate fast little kicks on the top of the water. This activity is called “cuddle kicks”. You can also manipulate the legs by holding your child in a sitting position, with their back resting against your tummy, manipulating their kicking legs on top of the water and walking forward. These are known as soccer kicks. By manipulating your child’s kicking legs you are keeping the kick under control and restricting the depth of the kick. Essentially, you are working towards gaining nice long legs, pointed toes and floppy ankles. You can make a game out of this activity by throwing a coloured ball to the other side and chasing towards it. Kicking legs can also be practiced on a shallow ledge within the pool if there is one available. Again, the ledge controls the depth of the kick and therefore restricts the legs from bending too much. Working towards simple goals of kicking for up to 10 seconds can be a fun way to practice ledge kicking.

 

Back floating

Back floating in all age groups is a valuable skill to. This is usually easy to achieve under the age of six months because they are a little less mobile. As they learn to sit up independently, being on their back is no longer a preferable position for them. By starting with assisted back floats, you can remain close to your child and maintain face to face contact (Cheek to cheek) whilst they lie back. Do not ever force a child on their back against their will – it can scare them and make your job of teaching them so much harder in the long run. Start teaching back floats by standing behind your child and placing the back of their head on your shoulder and walking backwards. Sometimes singing or talking to your child during this activity can distract your child and take your child’s mind off the activity at hand. As they get more comfortable, you can progress to supporting their neck with one hand and place your other hand under their back. The aim here is to reach a point of relaxation where you can slowly work towards removing all hand contact with your child. We encourage saying things like “eyes to the sky/roof, keep your tummy nice and dry, lie on top of the water”. If you do have access to a kickboard, by all means use it as an aid where it is placed on top of their tummy and encourage them to squeeze the board on their tummy. Set small goals as they become more fearless and confident, give them a goal of three seconds to start with. Increase this as confidence grows.

 

Monkeys on the wall

Teaching monkeys is an extremely important safety skill for children to be able to move from one area to another. It is important that your child has mastered a strong hold on the wall; this can be at a pool with a deck level wall or on a high wall, as no two pools are generally ever the same. This will improve strength and as their grip improves they should practice independently for short periods of time. To learn monkeys, we simply teach them to move along the wall using a hand over hand movement. Again, this may require some assistance from you and as always, toys are a great incentive for encouraging the kids to move towards. Place the toys sporadically along the wall.  As your child advances with this skill and improves, it is important that you always remain close and within arms reach.

 

Turn Arounds

The skill of turning around under the water is an essential skill for any child to learn and perfect. We encourage this to be taught as soon as your child has developed good breath control. You can do this by holding your child under the arms and facing away from you.  Give the trigger cue “name ready go”, lift and lower your child under the water and turn them back towards you, encouraging them to reach for your shirt. It is advisable that you start with a couple of these above the water firstly, just to introduce your child to the activity and give them an idea of your expectations and how they will move with your assistance. Remember there are many various ways in which you can practice turn arounds with your child however we strongly recommend that you ensure your child is competent at turning back to the wall from the side of the pool.

By practicing these turns to both sides (turn your child to the left and then right) will discourage them from potentially developing a favourite side. This activity can turn into lots of fun but by simply adding in a song or two or by utilising a toy whereby they have to turn back (towards you or the wall) to retrieve the toy.

 

Independent and Explorative Play

Letting your child play independently on a ledge or in a shallow area of a pool, with some toys, can be highly beneficial and increase your child’s confidence in the water. Here, they can get a chance to make small errors and correct themselves. For example, if they fall over from a sitting position, they can right themselves or if they slip off the edge, they can turn back to the wall. I cannot stress enough how important it is to always stay close to your child at all times, regardless of any activity you do and give them the assistance if required.

 

Things that we as adults take for granted can be quite daunting and unfamiliar for children, as simple as walking in waist deep water. This is something that adults are generally used to and can do with ease. However, for a toddler who may only have exposure to water during their swimming lesson once a week, they might not be used to walking and remaining balanced in waist deep water, especially if there are a lot of pool users and movement of water. By giving children the opportunity to independently sit, play and explore in shallow water, we will not only provide them with self-control but more importantly we will teach them a respect and love of the water as they learn the difference between deep and shallow.

 

Swim -Arounds

This activity is a great way of encouraging and progressing independent swimming and teaches children how to change direction in the water. This is something that will help your child out when you may be at a pool party or at the beach when there are other people around sharing the same body of water where they may need to manoeuvre around. To practice this activity, we recommend starting with your back against the wall and holding your child under the arms to your side (with their back also against the wall). Giving the cue, assist them to swim in a semi-circle, around you and back to the wall on the other side. The use of a ledge or a step in the water can be really beneficial in the teaching of this skill. You can make this activity fun by encouraging your child to swim towards an incentive such as a floaty toy or a coloured ball. As they master this with your assistance, start to encourage them to come off the ledge by themselves and kick and paddle around you. Remember to practice to both sides.

 

Jumping from the side

Jumping and diving can be lots of fun for kids that are confident in shallow water. By teaching a child to jump from the ledge of the pool, we are giving them the capability to be in control and they will further develop their respect of the water and the feeling of buoyancy in deeper water. To teach your child, ensure that you have moved to a deeper section of the pool. Get your child to sit or stand on the edge, encourage them to jump out towards you and invite them with open arms. It is important that you do not move after they have jumped as this can be detrimental to their trust, especially if it has been a process to get to this point. As they grow to love this activity and become more confident, you can start to incorporate other incentives as well as further develop their current skills and ability. Some examples would be to include floating toys, so they would jump out, grab a toy and swim back to the ledge. Another good one is for them to practice is to jump out and swim around you and swim back to the ledge. As with all pool and aquatic environments, please stress to your child that they only practice this skill when a guardian is present in the water with them and they are invited to do so.

 

 Independent paddles and kicks

Lots of manipulation for kicking legs and paddle arms is mandatory to achieve good muscle memory for independent swimming. Like everything, you will start by assisting your child and gently manipulating, if they are not yet swimming independently. We always recommend starting small. So simply having them push off the ledge/side of the pool to you, by themselves is an achievement in itself. Make sure they are reaching for you and pulling themselves up onto your shirt, without your assistance. Now, you have the opportunity to reinforce the skills which they are currently working on. Practice their kicking legs in the cuddle kick position and sit them on one of your knee and manipulate the arms in a paddle motion, ensuring you are reaching the arms out long and pulling them under the water back to their hip. Always keep their arms under the water whilst practicing. Turn them to face the wall and have them push off your hands and kick and paddle back to the wall. Don’t forget to give plenty of encouragement, correction and but most importantly praise.

 

Swimming in varying depth for objects

This is generally a good incentive activity for trying to get through the other activities. Kids generally love the idea of going to the bottom of the pool to get toys/objects or going on an underwater treasure hunt. There are many benefits to be achieved from this skill. These include: better breath control, increased independence, good rotation and recovery. We suggest starting small, as always, so the first time you do it, start it on a shallow ledge where the water depth is quite low.

 

There are a few things to consider as you vary the depth, please ensure your child has got good breath control and that they are comfortable under the water. We also need to remember that your child will be changing positions in the water, going from a floating position on top of the water into a more vertical position to retrieve the toys and recovering back into a standing vertical position. Assist your child in these processes by gently guiding them. As they become more confident, increase the depth gradually and guide your child to the toy by placing your hand between their shoulder blades. You should always guide them down at an angle rather than pushing them straight down vertically. Again, as confidence and breath control increase, you can show them how to use their arms to pull themselves independently to the bottom. Simply place the arms in front and by pulling the arms down to the side, will assist in the change of body position. You can also give verbal suggestions like “do a handstand under the water” or “push your head to the bottom and stick your feet up to the sky/roof”.

 

Climbing Out of the pool

As soon as children learn how to pull themselves up into the standing position, they also start to learn how to climb. These motor skills are generally adapted from land to water and this is where we step in and assist the little ones in learning how to climb out of the pool. This skill may seem somewhat simple but it is just as important as all the other skills listed above.

 

Initially when teaching little ones to climb out, you must encourage them to pull up using their elbows to get their tummy out of the water and their knees to complete the manoeuvre. You may need to give some assistance when first learning this skill. The great thing about this activity is that you can incorporate it with many of the activities above. For example, jump in, turn around, kick and paddle back to the wall and climb out. This results in your child practicing the skill repetitively which ultimately results in your child becoming stronger and more familiar with this very important skill. As adults, we need to remember that every pool has its own style, various types of entries and different walls with various heights and water levels. Don’t forget to take these differences into account when you do visit a different pool and always use the verbal cue of “elbow, elbow, tummy, knee” when your child is climbing out of the pool.

 

We sincerely hope that we can help you help your child in becoming more confident in and around the water from the various activities above. This will be achievable provided that your child has supervised and regular exposure to an aquatic environment with your assistance. Please remember that no matter how confident you may think your child is, you should always be no further than an arms length away from your child. These steps and guidelines above are also best achieved when practiced with a fun and loving approach.

 

How do you keep swimmers interested and engaged? Share your ideas in the comments below.

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Laurie Lawrence

 

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now