I recently went on a family holiday for almost a month. Nearly all the places we stayed in had pool or were close to somewhere we could swim. We must have had at least 30 swims while we were away and both my girls Evie 6 and Harper almost 3 progressed during our holiday. During our vacation I saw many families having fun in the pool with their children and on many occasions I really wanted to go over and give the parents some helpful hints to progress their child. My husband insisted that people may not be interested in me critiquing them while they were on a family vacation and suggested I put it in an article instead.
So for those of you who are on family holiday, here are my tips.
Go to the pool as much as you can
Exposure is the key when learning to swim. The more children practice the faster they will learn. Holidays are a great way to progress children’s swimming skills. Play is a vital component in learning to swim. Play will teach children their limitations, boundaries and help them learn a respect for the water.
Get into the water with your child
If you have a baby, toddler or preschool child you need to be in the water within arms reach of them for supervision. Accidents happen quickly and you might be surprised to know that drowning is silent. Even if you have an older child who can swim, treasure this one on one play time together.
Being in the water with your child doesn’t require you to hold on tight or limit their freedom. When interacting with babies, toddlers and non swimmers avoid using flotation devises. Rather wear a rash shirt or t-shirt and sink down low in the water while the child grips you.
By sinking down low and making a shallow ledge with your body the child will be able to feel buoyancy and remember floating is the basis of all learn to swim. For babies and toddlers who can swim allow them to practice self submersions and independent recoveries as they pull up onto your t-shirt or the side of the pool.
Explore different depths of water
Shallow water is ideal for timid children as it allows the child to feel safe and in control. Exploring different depths of water is also important to help children develop a respect for the water and learn where is safest to play. Most toddlers who have been swimming since birth will prefer to play games in shallow water because they know that they can be more independent here.
Make sure you teach children how to recover to a standing positing in shallow water. Toppling over can be extremely dangerous if children don’t know how to recover. We often hear reports of children drowning in shallow water so don’t underestimate this danger.
Teach 1 skill at a time
Remember learn to swim should following a building block approach. Focus on establishing 1 skill at a time so that you get a good quality product. As parents, I’m sure you have witnessed children who are thrashing through the water but aren’t going anywhere.
They are struggling to keep themselves afloat rather than floating and using propulsive movements to move easily through the water. Learn to swim should follow, water familiarisation, breath control, submersion, floating, propulsion and learning to breathe. Water safety education must underpin all swimming activities.
Model desired behaviours around the water
I hate to single out any one group, but Dads seriously, stop diving into shallow water. The behaviour you demonstrate will be copied by your children especially risk taking adolescents. According to AUSTSWIM the council for the teaching of swimming and water safety in Australia, every year there are approximately 25 young Australian’s who become quadriplegics as a result of diving into shallow water. This type of injury is preventable so talk to your children about staying safe in and around the water.
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Let me know some of your swimming stories while on family holiday! Comment below.