June 13, 2015 by Polarn O. Pyret
Children love to swim, and anywhere there is water there will be children playing and splashing. But what is important to consider when being around water with children? We spoke to a swimming instructor and got some ideas for swimming techniques, safe swimming and safety.
Why is it so important for children to learn to swim?
Swimming ability is important since it enables people to take care of themselves in the water. The importance of swimming readiness and ability must not be underestimated. There have been cases of children drowning in garden pools. Involuntarily ending up under water can be very stressful if you do not know how to swim or are unaccustomed to being in the water.
Can I teach my child to swim on my own?
Absolutely! Start practicing swimming techniques as early as preschool age. The earlier the better. But remember to work on the child’s terms and without demands. Demonstrate first and then continuously repeat. Swimming techniques have to be practiced over and over again. At the beginning, children might experience a sense of hopelessness if they cannot do certain exercises. Finally, though, everything usually comes together and the child can do it! If your child gets tired of an exercise, accept it and do something else. It is all a matter of eventually getting the child to feel safe in the water.
Ideas for exercises
If you are teaching the breast stroke, go through the leg strokes and arm strokes separately. The breast stroke demands a lot of coordination and it might be a good idea to practice the strokes on land.
Illustrate the arm strokes with a heart. From your own heart, make a heart shape down towards the stomach. Remember to keep your fingers together like a paddle.
It is easiest to practice the leg strokes by sitting on land. The legs should be pulled up in parallel towards the stomach and then glide apart in a circle shape – like a frog. Repeat over and over again.
What about safe swimming? If there anything in particular to consider when at the beach or poolside?
Yes. Safe swimming is crucial and it is very important that children learn:
- Always to have a swimming buddy.
- To always tell someone where they are going to swim.
- Never to push anyone into the water.
- Never hold anyone under the water.
- Not to jump or dive into unknown water. It might be more shallow than they think, or there might be rocks.
- Not to swim under piers or diving boards.
- Not to run on piers or next to the pool’s edge – these places are generally very slippery.
- That inflatable toys are not floating aids. Avoid playing with these in open water.
- Always to call for help if they or someone else is in trouble. But ONLY if it really is an emergency situation.
We would like to thank Swimming Instructor, Anna Nordstrom for these answers and to wish you all a fun and safe swim!
- UV protection swimwear
- Sun hat
- Picnic, fruit kebabs, juice, crackers and sandwiches
- Shovel and bucket
- Beach ball
- Beach blanket
- Sun chair
Collect beach treasures. A lot can be done with the pretty rocks, shells and other fun stuff that floats up to shore. Build cities, decorate a sand castle or just save everything in a pretty jar.
Make a drip castle with sand. Allow the sand to drip between your hands to make playful creations at the edge of the beach. Decorate your creation with shells, sticks and seaweed.
Fly a kite. When it is fairly windy, have a competition to see who can fly his or her kite the highest. The winner can get a fun prize.
Throw a ball or Frisbee around.
Play tic-tack-toe. Draw a grid in the sand and get started.
Draw a line in the sand and jump long jump.
Dig the deepest hole in the sand in a certain amount of time, for example five minutes.
Treasure hunt. Take turns hiding something on the beach. Make clues or draw a treasure map – the treasure is under something that starts with a “B”, the treasure is 10 steps straight ahead and then 10 steps to the left, the treasure is in the shade…
Beach sand portrait. Lie down in the sand and have someone trace your outline in the sand. Carefully climb out of the outline and then decorate it with the things you found on the beach. Is it a mermaid? Is it a sand angel? The king or queen of the beach? Or a sand pirate?