Tag Archives: swimming lessons

Introduce Your Baby to the Pool : Swim Steps 1

Editor’s Note: This is the first post in our three-part series focused on teaching children to swim with the SwimWays Swim Steps program. The steps include Swim Step 1: Water Introduction, Swim Step 2: Water Exploration, and Swim Step 3: Swim Training. Swim along with us and teach your child the skills of a lifetime!


National Learn to Swim Day is May 19th! Get your child ready for a summer of fun and staying cool by beginning the process of teaching them to swim! But before you do, take a look at some of these tips on how to give your baby the most positive learn to swim experience they can have!

Before you head to the pool, make sure you are fully aware of water safety practices. Review the American Red Cross water safety checklist and visit our resources page on TeachMeToSwim.com. Arming yourself with knowledge and a plan will help you to relax and feel more confident. If you are one of the many adults that did not learn to swim, sign yourself up for swim lessons before you get in the pool with your child. There are swim lesson courses available just for adults, and it’s never too late to learn.

There are so many positive effects of teaching your children to swim at an early age. Studies show that children who are taught to swim by the age of 5 have increased confidence, are ahead in their cognitive and physical development and are more likely to have higher IQ’s (due to an early exposure to sensory and motor stimuli in the water). Learning this skill by this age can also help in developing math skills. Finally, oral expression and social skills can also be bettered as a result of swimming.

1. Don’t force it

Swim Step 1 is focused on getting your child comfortable with being in the water. It’s very important that your baby want to be there. If he/she doesn’t, you may choose to sit with them on the edge of the pool or a shallow step where they can play, or allow them to do so while staying within arm’s reach. Then, once they’ve warmed up to the idea, you can bring them into the water!   Baby testing the water

2. Getting used to the water

The phrase about dipping your toes into something, couldn’t be more applicable to getting your baby acclimated to the water. The next step is to allow them to dip their toes in. Consider splashing a little water onto their stomach, too!

3. Help your baby become comfortable

Now, you can place your child in one of our comfortable and secure Baby Spring Floats (for ages 9-24 months).

The Original Baby Spring Float is designed with a large circumference and an inner spring around the outside edge for stability. You and your baby will have a fun time as they experience the wonderful feeling of floating in the water for the first time!

What makes a SwimWays Baby Spring Float different from other brands?

  • Fabric-covered inflation and soft mesh seats keep babies comfortable in the water.
  • Dual air chambers and safety valves enhance security.
  • Large circumference and a patented inner spring around the outside edge of the float for added stability in the water.
  • Folds flat into three compact circles for easy portability in the included carry case.

 

 

Additional styles include baby floats with sun canopies, designs that allow parents and babies to float together, and baby floats with integrated toys.

 

Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy for Infants

 

 

 

The SwimWays Infant Baby Spring Float with Sun Canopy is a fabric-covered baby float for infants.  This float is for ages: 3 months – approximately 9 months (or until baby attempts to climb out or sit up).

4. Time for some more fun

Here comes the fun part! You’ll want to begin encouraging your child to splash around, and maybe even splash you so that they will correlate FUN with being in the water.

Baby Spring Float Activity Center

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to take a look at the video on Swim Step 1 training.

Note: Signing up for a Mommy and Me swim class is another great way to help get your child comfortable in the water.


*Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1-4? Help turn this tragedy around by teaching your kids to swim and practicing water safety with your family. Share this infographic online to help spread the word.

Choosing a Formal Swim Instructor

by Mario Vittone

Though I am embarrassed to admit it, I have never been able to help much with math homework.  Sure, I’m a grown man and should know a few things, but advanced mathematics isn’t something I was ever good at.  Regardless of my grasp of the basics, I am far out of my depth when it comes to anything beyond geometry and basic algebra. So when it comes to helping the kids, my wife and I call in a pro (a local math teacher who tutors on the side) – and I stay out of the way. This is a good idea.

Likewise, you may be comfortable introducing your kids to the water and teaching them to relax and float, but advanced swimming lessons are simply more than you can handle.  That’s okay. If breath control and proper stroke technique have you scratching your head like – well, me with polynomial long division, here are some fundamentals for finding professional help.

1. Assess their commitment to safety and professional certification

Anyone serious about working with children in the water will have taken the time to get certified in CPR and first aid. At minimum, any swimming instructor should be certified in first aid, CPR, and lifeguarding. Another certification to look for is WSI or Water Safety Instruction.  This is the American Red Cross’s designation of a swim instructor.  You should have no hesitation in asking to see their credentials and a good instructor will have none in showing you them. 

There are other professional affiliations and training certificates that you may see, including affiliation with the U.S. Swim Schools Association. Association with a professional organization doesn’t guarantee perfection, but it does let you know that the school or instructor you are considering takes their profession seriously and is working with other professionals to improve their craft, and member schools are rated for their experience and commitment to the continuing education of their staff.

2. Understand their approach to instruction

Ask the instructor, what is your approach to swim instruction?  What do you try to accomplish?  What you are looking for is an instructor who works to build fundamentals and build up skills progressively. You’re listening for words like “fundamentals” and “progression” and “developing confidence” when asking questions about the way they teach.

Be wary of any guarantees for how fast or slow your child’s skills in the water may develop. Experienced instructors understand that children are different and will have their own pace when learning to swim.  That doesn’t mean that group instruction is better or worse than one-on-one lessons, but you want to be sure that swim instructors have an appropriate appreciation of your child’s individual needs.

Choosing a formal swim instructor by Mario Vittone

3. Watch them with other kids

I know I have discussed the importance of being there and being comfortable with your children in the water, but sometimes your presence can distract them. At certain ages, kids learn faster, stay focused longer, and even complain less when mom and dad are out of sight.  Some instructors have parents watching from a clandestine spot, and this is just fine. You should, of course, be able to watch lessons before you commit.  When you do this, you are looking for some very specific things.

You want an instructor or instructional team who appears patient and looks comfortable interacting with children the same age as your child.  You want to see if the students look engaged or bored.  Are they excited to be there and having fun, or do they look like it is drudgery?  While more fun equals more learning, don’t be too put off if the older kids look like they are doing some real work. What you are looking for as much as anything is the appearance that students like the instructors and vice versa.

The American Red Cross recommends no more than ten students for every instructor, so have a look at class sizes as well.  Again, group instruction isn’t a bad thing and it can even be preferable at times to one-on-one instruction. Children can gain confidence from watching others their age swimming alongside. But, too many kids at a time is hard to manage on dry land, much less in the water.

4. The classroom matters

Nothing takes the fun out of swimming like chattering teeth in a pool that is too cold.  Blue lips and shivering kids are a good sign that you should look somewhere else. The clarity and quality of the water are important as well. Water quality for your home pool is equally important for any pool where lessons are held.  It matters for the safety of the kids and for the quality of the learning that will go on when they are there.

Burning eyes from improper pH levels can ruin a lesson quicker than anything, and you can forget the fun factor if lessons = discomfort for your kids. A properly run pool will look and smell clean and clear. If it isn’t a place you would love to swim, your kids won’t either.

5. Reputation

I have several friends in the business of providing professional swim lessons and all of them are proud of what they do.  When you ask them for references (and you should, of course) a good instructor will be thrilled to hand them over.  You can ask the parents you see when you visit, but you also want to hear from the vets, whose children have been to the school and moved on.

My good friend Johnny Johnson of Blue Buoy Swim School in Tustin, California has taught generations of children and has a reputation spanning decades. Six of his students have competed in the Olympics! You should be so lucky to have a school like his nearby, but don’t be afraid of up-and-comers with a good reputation and the right credentials. Schools like Johnny’s have instructors who learn from the masters and move on to start their own schools in other markets.  So if a friend of yours recommends a school that is maybe a bit too far from your home, you should ask them for a professional reference for an instructor in your area.  Believe me, they’ll know who else is out there and will give you good advice.

Consider the five things listed above, ask good questions, and watch the instructors while they work. You’ll be well on your way to finding an instructor or swim school that is right for your child. In the end, you are looking for a place and for people that will help your child learn a skill for life. I don’t think it is a no-brainer decision, but it shouldn’t be as hard for you as trigonometry is for me.

Stay safe, have fun, and as always, I’d be glad to answer your questions in the comments below.