1. When Is My Child Ready For Swim Lessons?They were born ready. Seriously! It is us who puts our fear or discomfort unto them. Remember babies develop in a liquid environment, so the comfort level for them is no problema. Now they are breathing air, so the biggest concern is preventing water from entering the lungs, potentially causing drowning – obviously, this is true at any age. So the question becomes; what is the purpose of swim lessons at various ages?
2. What Can I Do If S/He Is Terrified? When you sign up for swim lessons, ask if it is possible to get a personal introduction on land to their future swim instructor. Not 2 minutes before their class along with everyone else, but on a different day beforehand. If not, at least be sure to get the instructor’s name, and maybe even some characteristics about him or her so that you can start talking them up to your little one. You want to instill that their swim instructor is someone they can trust, someone who will keep them safe, and someone who will help them to do something really fun!
But don’t just say it once, talk about them often enough that their swim instructor becomes part of their familiar routine same as say, their dance teacher or other caretaker. Establishing this trust beforehand should help the transition in those first few moments of the first class. If your little one recognizes this person, you are not in the awkward position of telling them to trust – and have fun! – with a complete stranger!?
Especially if you were able to get a meet and greet with the instructor beforehand, you will have peace of mind knowing that she/he is aware of the situation, and prepared to use the extra TLC necessary to help your swimmer along. When the moment of truth comes, no matter how heartbreaking it is, it is imperative that you make a clean break – leaving the swim instructor to do what they are trained to do – calm down a frightened child in the water. A reputable instructor will have toys, songs, and other tricks in their bag for just that moment. A quality program may even have a person supervising the deck who will also provide back-up support as needed.
As with any new skill, comfort leads to safety, and then the real learning can begin. At the end of the day, rest assured knowing it is not the first time a child has been afraid of water, and how you manage the fear will make all the difference. Don’t worry! Sometimes screaming and crying in the beginning is a normal part of the progression!
3. What Can I Do At Home To Prepare For Swim Lessons?
As for those future swimmers who may have cried most of the time, and continue to struggle with getting comfortable being in the water – no matter what, the message you want to send is that they did an amazing job at swim class. Pick out a moment that you can use as something that was so brave and impressive, and focus on that...even if they only put their eyes under for 2 seconds, call it their front float and tell them how great it was…and don’t forget to remind them how much fun they had while doing it!? The idea is you want them to get excited to go back and try it again – maybe even do a front float for 5 seconds next time..?
In the end, just remember; what it all comes down to are those lovely summertime memories. Sure, swim lessons are important for summer safety and fun, but never should they be a stress-inducer for you or your little one ~ just ride the wave, and splash it up!