I overheard a mother ask another mother if swimming lessons for kids were worth the money. I quietly listened to the response wondering what she was gonna say. Before I do, let me first share a fact: did you know that children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning percentage rates? And that’s based on the average incidents of drowning being about 10 deaths PER DAY!
Since leaving the corporate world to become a stay at home Mom, working as a part-time babies swim instructor has been one of the best jobs I have had in my life. It has made me a better mother by giving me a greater understanding of children and how we shape them. I have even gained new mom friends who are a part of my Mom Village of support.
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Most people think drowning typically happens in public places or large bodies of water. In fact, drowning can happen anywhere and even in very shallow water. It can happen in your bathtub, your backyard swimming pool, or even local park ponds. To young children, shiny water is attractive and older kids tend to think calm waters are not a danger.
The disparity I see with multiple children when I teach is that many parents themselves don’t know how to swim and even have a fear of water as adults. This is a frightening fact. What’s even scarier is watching an adult bring a young child into the swimming lessons who is holding on to the side of the wall with their child in their other hand. If ever there comes a time their child fell in the water, they couldn’t even attempt to save them.
At a park near our home, which also has a beautiful small lake, a memorial for a little girl who attended our neighborhood elementary school. Due to peer pressure, the girl jumped off the bridge into the small lake – even though she had never been taught how to swim. There are countless questions in this situation, but the overall point I keep coming back to is that if she knew how to swim her chances of survival would have increased dramatically. A tragedy could have been avoided if that little girl knew even basic swim skills like treading water or floating on her back. Every second is critical and that is what people often don’t realize.
Many parents often lump swimming lessons for kids into other “extracurricular activities” such as gymnastics or t-ball for their little ones; however, swim lessons are not a hobby or passive activity…it is a LIFE SKILL and one that can save their life someday.
More than 50% of drowning victims are treated in the ER requiring hospitalization with a hospitalization rate of 6% for all unintentional injuries. These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage causing permanent damage.
Swim lessons are worth every penny!
What’s the best age?
When to start swimming lessons for kids is the next issue/problem parents have. All my kids have taken swimming lessons. Even when I was a single mother and my older daughter was younger I worked hard to make sure she was in them. My younger two started as babies though. This might seem a bit scary to you but I will tell you it’s the best way. Have you seen a 2-year-old or even a 5-year-old afraid of water? Screaming because they don’t want to get their face wet.
The earlier a child gains comfort in the water the better off they will be. Maybe you don’t want to start your kids off as young as 3 months as I did with my youngest but I have taught babies to swim for a while now. The American Association of Pediatrics says children can safely take swim lessons as early as age 1.
Our local park district program I teach in begins swimming lessons as early as 3 months of age. I know you probably think what is a baby gonna learn. I am here to tell you that at 10 months of age our youngest is blowing bubbles in the water, kicking, goes underwater for 3 seconds while holding her breath and has even begun to hold on to the side of the wall. The most important of them all is her being able to hold her breath for just a few seconds and understanding that reflex or reaction if she ever fell in the water while kicking to the surface and floating on to her back is the second most important thing.
Swimming lessons and going underwater
If a child falls into any body of water what happens? Gravity pulls them down and fully submerges them. So when searching for a program for swimming lessons wouldn’t you want your child to learn how to react to that. You want a program that is going to teach your child how to go underwater and learn how to surface and recover.
Look for a reputable swim school but also look at your local park district too. There are many programs available for lessons and the range of cost varies.
One of the most important things I do tell parents who start swimming lessons is that consistency is key. You want to make every effort in having your child in swim lessons until they can at least fully actually swim to safety. Younger children regress if lessons stop and then started up again.
Expectations as a parent should also be realistic. Don’t enroll your child two months before summer and expect full fledge swimmers. Swimming is all about mastering the technique and it takes time to do it.
PDF’s are one of the single most important pieces of gear that you should have with you if you are taking your children out on recreational water activities. There are laws in place that state all children must wear a life jacket under the age of 13. How much research did you do on your child’s car seat? Probably tons and you bought the best one on the market. You need to treat water safety skills and gear in the same regard. With statistics like 76 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned, of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 84.5 percent were not wearing a life jacket. 84.5 percent is a large number. It’s hard to imagine that some of those drowning victims were innocent children.
Toss in the Liferaft
You are probably by now wondering so what did the mother say to the mother who asked if swimming lessons were worth the money. She turned around and said, “It has been one of the best things we have done”. To which the mother responded “really?!” As I exited the locker room passing the mother who asked the original question. I told her “Giving your kid swimming lessons is a life skill, that’s how you need to look at it. It is something they could benefit from their whole life.
Ways to know you are in a great swimming program:
- a curriculum focused on water safety
- a progressive teaching approach that allows for your swimmer to learn to swim comfortably at an individual pace
- Hands-on Curriculum with Lessons and Activities
There are many ways to get started swimming I suggest starting at your local park district.