Make that first swimming lesson stress-free and anxiety-free!

by Bec Wilson on 11-12-2013 Kids Health & Fitness
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Make that first swimming lesson stress-free and anxiety-free!

As parents, I’m sure you are well aware of the many health related benefits of learning to swim from a young age. A recent research conducted by the Griffith Institute for Educational Research in Australia revealed that children who learnt to swim from a young age are on average 11 months ahead of the population in oral expression, 6 months ahead in mathematics reasoning and 2 months ahead in brief reading. I remember how much more disciplined and a better listener my eldest daughter - Jessica became after taking swimming lessons for two months.

If you’ve been thinking about putting your kids through swimming lessons, now is the time to start! I was lucky with Jessica, as she adores swimming and loves the water. With my second child however, I struggled getting her to even go into the water for her first three swimming lessons! Today, I would like to share five helpful tips on how you could prepare your kids for their first swimming lesson.

  1. Practice in the bathtub
    Utilising bath time to start preparing your child for their first swimming lesson is the easiest way to get them used to the feeling of being immersed in water for a long period of time. Each day, try introducing them to new swimming techniques, such as practice floating on their back and simple swimming motions. A simple yet effective activity to do during bath time is blowing bubbles. It helps your child to understand the techniques of how to exhale in the water, rather than sucking it in.

    While doing all this together during bath time, explain to your kids that they’ll be doing similar types of activities during their swimming lessons. This helps to ease their anxiety approaching their first swimming lesson, as you’ve mentally prepared them for things that they are already familiar with.

  2. Play fun water games
    One of the best way to get your kid to feel comfortable being around water is to make it fun! Apart from daily bath/shower time, get your kids to have more contact with water through fun games and water toys such as rubber ducks, toy submarine or boat. A lot of kids have anxiety about going into a pool for the first time so if you could associate it with fun, you can guaranteed that your child will have a smoother transition into their first swimming lesson.
  3. Prepare together & get your kid involve in the decision making
    Get your kids excited about taking swimming lessons. Take them shopping for new swimwear, beach towel, goggles and floaties. Ask them what kind of snacks they prefer to have after their swimming lesson: fruit, yoghurt, a light sandwich? Get your kid involve in the decision making process by asking them what their preferences are. The key is to make them feel as comfortable as possible stepping into their first swimming lesson. Don’t be afraid to consult with swimming coaches and instructors prior to lessons for tips and advice
  4. Familiarise them with the environment
    Taking a bath in the bathtub at home is very different to learning to swim in a large swimming pool so be sure to familiarise your kid with where you plan to enroll them for swimming lessons. Get them acclimated to being in a large body of water, the different water temperature and feeling safe in pool water. It is also a good idea to familiarise them with the facilities: where the toilets and resting areas are. Do your research on your local swimming pools and swimming schools for kids to find the one that your child feels the most comfortable in.
  5. Arrive early for swimming lessons
    Once your kids have familiaised themselves with the environment of the swimming school, be sure to arrive early for each swimming lesson so that they won’t feel rushed. If you’re not well prepared and have everything packed and ready beforehand and ends up rushing your kids, it’ll only create tension and stress, and put them in a cranky mood for their lesson.

I hope your kid’s first swimming lesson turns out to be an enjoyable one. Who knows, they might enjoy swimming so much that you could even get them to try out synchronised swimming lessons. Don’t forget to take a look at our kids activities directory for other great water inspired ideas for kids!

Bec Wilson

Bec is a married stay at home mum who spends most of her time sorting out the chaotic lives of her two daughters, Jessica (7) and Tessa (3). When she’s not carefully coordinating her kids’ outfits, or addressing their notoriously complicated culinary requirements, she likes to share in the busy lives of other parents. After devouring mummy blogs for years, Bec decided to start blogging from her Cape Town home last year. She hopes her experiences will inspire other parents and help them feel less alone when things get tough.