Taking the kids to the beach or pool for spring break this year? Letting little ones splash and play in the water is a great way to spend some family time together, but it’s also the perfect time to get some swim practice in and strengthen water safety skills!
Spend the first ten minutes practicing what your child already knows how to do in the water – whether that be blowing bubbles, floating on their backs, or kicking. Get them reacquainted with being in the water, especially if it has been a few months since y’all went for a swim.
Not only should you go over your child’s swim skills, but you should remember to keep a close eye on them! That means spending some time together swimming in the pool without any sort of floatation device. Also, an important reminder: floaties are not an excuse to keep an eye off your child while they are swimming. You should ALWAYS watch them in the water.
Here are some basic swim skills to work on with your little ones:
- Fill a cup with water and gently pour it over your child’s head. Let them figure out how to close their eyes and mouth while the water runs over their face. This will help them become comfortable before going under the water. It is important to give your child a head’s up before dunking them under the water; a verbal cue such as, “Ready, set, go” will help them be aware of what is about to happen.
- If your child isn’t ready to venture out into the water, let them play on the pool steps with pool toys until they are feeling comfortable.
- Learning breath control in the water is also very important. Having your child practice blowing bubbles will help them ease into learning how to not drink the water. Then slowly encourage them to dip their chin, mouth, nose, then eyes in the water.
- Once your child is comfortable with holding their breath, then you can start working on independent floats. Grab a couple pool noodles and place them under their arms to help them learn independence in the water. They can also start practicing moving the water with their hands and kicking their feet, while on the noodle.
- Help your child float on their back. You can your child’s head on your shoulders and hold their hands stretched out to either side. This often helps children feel safer, rather than holding them away from your perpendicularly.
If your child has gotten the basics down and can confidently swim on their own, here are some great tips and tricks to improve form and breathing:
- Practice underwater swimming with dive rings or torpedos. Your child will love this, especially if you turn it into a game.
- To help your child work on their form, have them swim with their arms in the streamline position and eyes looking down.
- Have them float and glide on their back. This is a great way to introduce the elementary backstroke!
- Practice treading water. This is important in helping their core strength in the pool and sets the tone for discipline in the water.
Regardless of swim level, here are some MANDATORY water safety skills that you and your children should go over:
- Climbing out of the pool without the help of a pool ladder. Have them grab the side of the pool, pull up and put their elbows on the deck, then push their tummy up and climb.
- Holding onto the wall and moving their hands along the wall to safety, as in the ladder or pool steps.
- Rolling over from a front float into a back float.
- Practice jumping into the pool, then swimming back to the wall. This skill is essential for your child’s swim safety.