Swimming - A Necessary Life Skill for Children

by Pool Builders on 11-09-2006 in Articles

It is the age old question. "When should I start my child in swimming lessons?"

The right answer is SOONER THAN LATER!!

Many families wait until their children enter kindergarten or first grade before getting their children into a swimming program that would teach water safety, drown-proofing and actual swimming skills. Parents, DO NOT WAIT!

Here are some statistics from the Center for Disease Control.

* in 2003, 782 children between age 0 and 14 drowned (CDC, 2003)

* drowning in the second leading cause of injury related death for children ages 1 - 14 (AFTER motor vehicle crashes) (CDC, 2003)

* drowning rates are highest for children under 5 years of age (CDC, 2003)

The stark reality is that drowning can result in a serious injury or death in children but that it can be STOPPED!! Being diligent in enrolling our children in quality swimming lessons can be the first step in making that happen.

Starting swimming lessons between age 3 and 3 ½ is an appropriate time for most children. You as the parent know your child better than anyone else and so only you are qualified to decide when is the best time for your child.

There are "Parent & Tot" classes available at many pools but the focus of those classes is teaching your child to be comfortable in the water and giving parents more confidence while in the water with their child not so much to teach them how to swim. They are a great way to introduce your child to the world of water.

At age 3 many children are involved in preschool or other activities where they leave you and go with another adult. At this age they also are starting to interact with other children in a classroom environment in an appropriate way. Having a handle on these 2 issues should be a good indicator that your child is ready to be in a swimming class on their own.

Do your research before deciding what program will best suit the needs of your family.

There are so many programs offered across the country. Some are nationally known programs and others are private programs. Both are great options as long as you do your homework. Either way you will want to inquire about a few things.

1. How old do children have to be to register in the program?

2. Are the children registered based on age and/or ability level?

3. What is the teacher to student ratio? For preschoolers a great ratio is 1:4.

4. What kind of certification and experience does the instructor have? Just because the teacher is a great swimmer in your area does not mean that person will automatically be a great teacher. Certification and experience count for a lot in adult careers so look for the same in the swimming program that you use.

5. Will the same instructor be teaching all the classes in the session? Children thrive on consistency so you will want to make sure that you will see the same instructor at each class.

6. Do they teach a specific swimming program and are there progress reports so that you can track your child's progress? Knowing where your child is excelling and where there is still work to be done is important in swimming just as it would be in school. It will also give you an idea of what you can expect your child to accomplish in the course of a lesson set.

7. Is there an opportunity for a make up lesson if you have to miss for something like sickness?

8. Are there programs available for children who have special needs?

The more information that you have about the various swimming lesson programs in your area the better decision you will make for your child. Swimming is a vital skill for all children and the best experience will be a prepared experience.

Enrolling your child in swimming lessons is a large part in keeping our children safe around the water. Please make sure that your child is ALWAYS supervised when he is around water. Don't go inside for a soda or to answer the phone. Accidents can happen in a split second. If you own a pool, make sure that it is fenced properly. Do not take chances around water. Protect your child and make sure that they learn how to swim. It will be a skill that you will be so thankful you spent your time and money on for your child. Your child will thank you!!

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