My sister Linda has 3 kids and a family pool in the back yard. When her kids were young, she asked me to research swimming lessons for her. Was it better for the parents to teach the kids to swim, or enroll them in swimming lessons? I found there are some strong arguments for kids to have swimming lessons, and taught by an instructor.
It’s a big safety concern. I read one article which stated “formal swimming lessons can prevent young children from drowning.” That is about as clear as it can get. I kept reading and found a great articles about babies, young kids and older children taking swim lessons. While there were differences based on age, the common thread was that since drowning is the second highest cause of death involving children, a child knowing how to swim is a very high priority.
A lifetime skill. Last summer I went to a pool party, and I noticed a teenage boy sitting by himself who didn’t look very happy. I quietly asked and found out he didn’t know how to swim. It must have been embarrassing, sitting there watching all the other kids having fun in the pool. That made a strong impression on me about the importance of knowing how to swim. My sister’s family spends at least a week at the beach every summer, has a home pool, and the kids hang out with their friends at the community pool all summer. Water is all around the world Linda’s kids live in, and knowing how to swim is important for them.
A confidence builder. If a child can swim, they will feel more confident being around the water. There won’t be an anxiety about “what if I fell in,” with the knowledge that they can take care of themselves in the water. There will be so many occasions to be around the water – and the confidence of knowing how to swim will be a valuable asset. Plus, a child won’t have to face that uncomfortable experience of sitting on the sidelines while others frolic in the water.
Better taught by the pros. Just because I can swim well doesn’t make me a teacher. Having lessons taught by someone who is certified and able to teach swimming the proper way makes good sense. You want the child to learn the proper strokes, be taught about safety around the water, and learn to respect water because of the inherent risks that are involved.
Better retention with a swim instructor. I have watched my sister’s kids at the community pool, and they really listen to the young lifeguards – the people who have that enormous authority to pull them out of the pool if they misbehave. Kids listen more carefully to a professional in learning to swim. Since the instructors know how to teach proper techniques, they carry themselves with a certain confidence, and the kids pick up on that. Also, the swim instructors are typically younger, and the kids will relate to them better. I watched a swim lesson class one time – which is a great idea by the way – and saw the dynamic. The instructor had a way of settling down an unruly child with just a look, and I could tell they were really paying attention to what he was showing them. I thought that attentiveness was important for something as important as learning to swim.
Not a “do it yourself” task. After all my investigation, it was pretty clear to me that teaching the children to swim was not something my sister should do herself. Swimming lessons taught by a professional was clearly the way to go.
Kaitlin Gardner writes for AnApplePerDay.com. She currently lives in Pennsylvania and is married to her best friend. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking and enjoy nature. She has just started her first book about living an eco-friendly, healthy, natural lifestyle.
Image courtesy of Worakit Sirijinda | Free Digital Photos
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