Finally-summer! After this (particularly) long winter, we have earned it! Summers should be filled with playing outside, spending time with favorite people and enjoying life to its fullest. If your family is like mine, as much of your summer will be spent in the water as possible. Let’s talk about pool safety.
This is an issue that is near and dear to me because I taught swimming lessons each summer for years. It was fun, hard and important work. I believe so much in teaching kids how to be safe in a pool-beyond simply relying on gates or floats. I want your kiddo to be safe and responsible swimmers in any scenario. Here’s what the Red Cross says about pool safety. Here are five additional tips.
~Obviously, if possible, learning from a professional is ideal. This person has specific knowledge and ability. There are so many options for any schedule and income. Swimming is good for us. It’s fun. It teaches us skills. It’s great exercise without the strenuous impact on the body. In my humble opinion, it’s pretty much the greatest thing ever!
~ The wall is your child’s best friend. Repeat this with me; the wall is your child’s best friend. The wall is ALWAYS there, even when you’re not. When they are jumping in, do not teach them to swim to you. Teach them to turn and swim to the wall. Stay close and be helpful, but guide them back to the wall. The wall is your child’s best friend.
~Avoid floats if at all possible. I understand that floats offer convenience, however, floats don’t teach us how to swim. They are really only good for “dog paddling” which tires us out quickly and also doesn’t move us very far. A child who falls in a pool without knowing the correct way to swim will try to dog paddle and begin to panic when they cannot get anywhere. This is why it’s so important to teach the proper swimming technique. We swim on top of the water, with our feet propelling us as we kick. Kickboards and noodles encourage the horizontal posture needed to kick and propel successfully.
~Show them how to float. This can be a hard skill to learn because kids are often resistant to leaning their head back into the water. It just feels a little scary. But if they learn to float successfully they can go to this position anytime they get fatigued while swimming which increases their ability to keep themselves safe. This will take time and patience but it is worth it.
~ Teach them how to blow breaths in the water. If kids are afraid to get their face wet, they will really struggle with being safe in the pool. Like floating, there is an element of fear in having your head in the water. If your child is particularly fearful, you can use straws to gradually get them comfortable getting closer and closer to the water or you can have them practice blowing bubbles in the bathtub. To safety, summer, and swimming!