November 04, 2008

Ask "theSwimMom"

Howdy, I hope that you are all having a fantastic Tuesday.  We here in Utah are watching as winter knocks on the door.  The mountains are currently iced and looking ready for ski season to start.  Makes talking about swimming seem like a chili conversation. 

Today I wanted to take a moment and talk about introducing your little ones to swim lessons.  At the pool I work at our wee one classes are the quickest classes to feel.  Parents are anxious to have their small ones introduced to swimming and hopefully help them overcome some fears.  I wanted to take a moment or two and talk about adjusting your parental expectations. 

Does that sound harsh?  I don't mean to sound harsh but how else do I say, "Back off and let me do my job." That sounds worse, right? Adjust your parental expectations, sounds much kinder.:) So lets talk three year old.

Red Cross swimming lessons do not begin until the age of three.  This is the age that Red Cross has decided your little fish is ready to enter a class. Personally, I couldn't agree more. 

Now your all ready to start your little one down the road of swimming.  So you go to sign up for lessons and find out that the very first level of classes is all full. Now, I know that you are thinking that it doesn't matter, I know that you are thinking my little one likes the water, and I know you think that it will be ok to put your child in the next level up, but don't, STOP. 

To often we have this happen only to end up with a very scared little one.  This is there first time in the water away from you.  This is the first time that a teacher (stranger) is trying to dunk them and letting them go in the water.  The way a teacher teaches the first level and the second level are entirely different.

For example in level one we do not require a child to go all the way under the water by herself. We do not require a child to float by himself and we do not require a child to jump in to the water himself.  Meanwhile, we require all these things out of level two. Even if your child will do this for you they may be less willing to do it with a teacher.

Once you start lessons give the teacher a day or two to establish trust with your child.  Many times I have had parents after the first day tell me that I don't have to hold on to a child.  That they can swim by himself.  The problem is if I don't hold on those first couple of days when I challenge them in days to come they will not trust me to keep him safe.

Here are a few of my biggest no, no's. Number one, do not let your child out of the water if they start crying. We will deal with crying, it is easier to deal with the crying when the child knows you won't let them out of it, the crying almost always stops after the second day of lessons. Number two, do not let your child hear you tell the teacher that they can't get their face/ears/or nose wet. I had one little stinker, after hearing his mom tell me he didn't want to get his face wet, remind me over and over again that his mom said he didn't have to go under the water. Unfortunately, he did not progress because your face in the water is a crucial step to learning to swim.  Number three, never let your child see you sweat. I know that there are many parents who don't like swimming but want there child to learn and be safe around water. Try to keep it on the down low that you don't like water.

Here are a few of my do's. Number one, tell the teacher if there is an issue that effects your child's learning abilities.  Such as ADD, autism and other medical problems.  Number two, applaud your child's accomplishments.  Blowing bubbles, floating by himself, jumping into the water.  All of these things are a pretty big deal and your little one wants you to know how big they are. The more you applaud the more likely a teacher is to get them to do more and more. Number three, be conscious of your child's development and physical abilities. There is only so much a teacher can teach a three year old before their body can't do anymore.

Here is my number one hint! Enjoy swimming, what other sport can a three year old and a ninety three year old participate in? It is a sport that can follow you through every stage of life and is a great way to stay active and healthy.  Remember, "Life is better when you swim!"

Next week, answering some very specific SPF questions. Hmm time to put on my scientist cap.  Thanks for the questions Ashleeeee.


Heather Bowles said...

Hey, thanks for the tips, this is one thing I have been thinking about doing lately. That is putting my kids in swimming lessons. I have not even tried sighning them up, I had no idea it is a pain to even get them in. I guess I should get on that.

One more thing just in case you are thinking of having something sugary just think of me licking it all over before eating it and just remember I licked my brother inlaws foot from top to bottom and it had just come out of his hiking boots.

Krissi said...

Well that is definitely a visual that will stop me from eating sugar. GROSS!!