Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mom helps for Swim Lessons

I started teaching swim lessons again this summer. This will be my 7th year doing them and I absolutely LOVE it. Is there anything not to love about playing in the water and getting tan for some quick cash?? 

Anyway, I get asked a lot what moms can do for their kids to teach them how to swim. Here is some advice for all your pool moms out there.

1. Start young. I don't usually recommend spending the cash on swim lessons until 4 years old. This is the age most kids will learn to swim (kids who have pools in the backyard will learn sooner). BUT, I do mean at a young age put your kid under water and show them that putting their face under water is OKAY and nothing to be scared of. If you are worried about open eyes or open mouth-blow in their face before you put them under and they will automatically close their mouth and eyes. ALWAYS count down so they learn what to expect. If you are worried about water going up their nose dip them in the water at an angle and scoop them through the water so water is going over their nose and not up into it. Sing songs with them, have them float on their back (most kids hate this and just need to practice), have them grab things off the stairs, have them kick while playing red light, green light etc...

2. The swimming sin is having your kids use a flotation device. Swim instructors hate this for a few reasons. First, some kids have a really really hard time letting go of it. Secondly, it gives them a false sense of buoyancy. They will start jumping into the water without thinking and you will find yourself constantly having to come to their rescue. You can always teach them to stay on the steps or give them a noodle or a tube to sit on, just not a water vest or float arms. 

3. Put them in swim lessons. Wait until they are comfortable in the water and maybe even have some basic kicking and bubble blowing skills so you don't waste your money. Again, I have found the sweet spot to be 4 years old. A lot of 3 year olds will learn to swim as well if they swim often throughout the summer. As a mom, you can spend all the time in the world teaching them, but I promise you, your child and you will be better off if you get them as ready as you can and then toss them in a pool with a stranger you trust. I can always get the kid to do more than the mom ever thought they could do because a kid will have a harder time saying no to a stranger. My personal recommendation: 4 private swim lessons a week for 2 weeks. If your kid is ready this is all they will need. Group lessons are a waste of time. Your kid is distracted by the other kids, and the swim instructor is only spending 1/5 of the time with your child. It is so not worth it. You will end up spending more money on group lessons than if you just did a few weeks of private and then PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE

4. Here is how swimming works if you want to give your kids a head start before swim lessons: Get their feet kicking-NO BICYCLE KICKS (bicycle kicks in the water usually comes from kids using flotation devices). Tell them to splash you, have them splash a ball to the wall or play red light green light or row row row your boat.
Get their arms rowing-sing row row row your boat, tell them to draw a rainbow in the sky or reach high up in the air. No doggie paddles!!
Get their face in the water. start with blowing bubbles (They should be practicing bubbles during their kicks and arms anyway), then tell them to swim with their nose wet, then their eyes wet. Kids swim with their bodies in straight lines so when their head comes up, their bodies go down into the water and they can't kick properly. When their head goes in the water the rest of their body levels out over the water and they start to move. 

Let me know if you need any ideas, are having any dilemmas in your teaching and I can send you some more ideas, games, tricks, songs.... At this point, I've seen it all. 


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