We are excited to be partnering with Learn2Swim Week, an initiative backed by Laurie Lawrence and the Kids Alive – Do The Five campaign. The aim of Learn2Swim Week is to get children under five in the pool and learning to swim, so they can start to develop the skills they need to stay safe in the water.
Worldwide, drowning is the number one cause of accidental death in children under 5 years of age. In Australia, one person on average, drowns every week. Teaching a child to swim early is the best prevention.
This year, Learn2Swim Week will run from October 2-9 2018. During the campaign, we will offer a free introductory swimming lesson for all children under five in our area. We are also offering our existing clients with children under five a free second lesson. These free lessons can only be claimed during Learn2Swim Week.
So if you are a parent who has children under five, or know others who do, we’re encouraging you to take advantage of this great initiative and help us spread the word.
The ability to swim is one of the most important factors in reducing the risk of childhood drowning. Learn2Swim Week is designed to make it easy and free for parents to get their under-fives started in water safety. If you or someone you know would benefit from this offer, give us a call or send us an email to book in. You can also visit http://learn2swimweek.com/ to find out more information about the initiative.
Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more updates on Learn2Swim Week 2018!
This week’s parent question is: “How do you modify lessons for kids that can’t put their ears underwater, or can’t hear instructions?”
There are a number of reasons why a child might not be able to put their ears in the water. These might include having an ear infection or having Grommets. There are also a number of hearing impaired children who participate in lessons here at Splash-A-Bout Swim School.
We believe that no child should miss out on learning an important life saving skill. There are a number of ways we can modify our lessons to cater for these children. For example, we can speak slow and clear, or use hand gestures to explain what to do. We can also use special sign cards that show the child what to do in picture form.
If your child has Grommets or is susceptible to ear infections, there is a way to prevent water from getting into their ears. The combination of ear plugs/ear putty, an ear band, and a swimming cap will allow them to put their head in the water, without the hassle of water in their ears. We have these items available at our swim shop, so if you require them, come and see our friendly staff.
Don’t forget to send in your questions if you have any! To send in a question, get in touch with us via our Facebook page or email. You can also ask one of our friendly staff members for advice. For more articles like this one, pop on over to our News and Facebook pages.
Our parents ask us many different questions about swimming and water safety, so for the next few weeks we’re going to use the blog to answer some of them.
This week’s parent question is: “What are the recommended floatation devices when children are swimming unaided by parents?”
There are a variety of floatation devices on the market today, and each work in a different way. They are designed to keep children afloat so they can become confident in the water while they are exploring. It is important to note that flotation aids are not safety devices, and they are not designed to prevent drowning. While they can help children to float, they can’t help them to breathe. Children must be supervised at all times when they are around the water. This means that children must be within an arms length of a competent supervisor.
Children can drown if flotation aids are faulty, used incorrectly, or do not fit properly. Children who are inexperienced, or who may be scared or overconfident around water can unexpectedly get into trouble and panic. This can happen very quickly and quietly. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use. Before use, make sure that you check your flotation aids for holes, tears and leaks. If any of these are present, do not use them. Always follow the warnings and instructions for assembly and use.
The different types of flotation devices include vests, armbands, rings or seats. When choosing swimming and flotation aids for your child follow the manufacturer’s age and weight recommendations. Choose a design, size and fit that suits the development of your child. For example, flotation aids designed for younger children may not be suitable if your child is above average height and size for their age group, and vice versa. You can purchase some of these devices from our swim shop.
“Floaty Free Time”
If you choose to use these floatation devices, it is important to have some “Floaty Free Time”. Floaties can give your child a false sense of security that makes them overconfident. Or they can become scared of swimming without floaties, which can hinder their progress in swimming lessons. Set aside some time when you use floaties as “Floaty Free Time”, and let them explore and experience the water within your reach.
If you have a question you would like answered, feel free to get in touch with us via our Facebook page or email. You can also ask one of our friendly staff members for advice. For more articles like this one, pop on over to our News and Facebook pages.
Many swim schools recommend that parents stay in the water and participate in their child’s lesson until they reach a certain age. At Splash-A-Bout Swim School, we recommend that parents should participate in their child’s lesson until the child reaches at least 2½ years of age. This belief is based on our philosophy of focusing on the swimmer’s technique, rather than how far they can swim. This philosophy is the foundation for our entire program. In this article, we will discuss the many benefits of parental involvement in the learn to swim process.
Safe and Secure Environment
Parents are able to supervise their own child under the watchful eye of their instructor. It is important that you discuss and practice safety skills with your instructor. These might include a ‘safety slide’ into the water from the side, climbing out independently, swimming back to safety, and only swimming with parental supervision.
Maximum Practice Time
Having parents in the water with their children increases the amount of practice time each child receives. In essence, the parent is helping to teach their child. The parents can keep their swimmer moving, and provide them with the opportunity to constantly practice the skills needed to move through the water. There will always be more practice with a parent in the water, no matter how great your child’s instructor is.
In today’s busy society, there aren’t many opportunities where the parent and child can spend time focused on each other. Technology, siblings, and other activities take up most of the precious time in our daily lives. Swimming lessons offer parent and child a special bonding time. Everything else is left outside the pool and the focus is on the swimming lesson.
Parents can use their hands to physically manipulate the movement of their child’s arms and legs to create great swimmers. This physical manipulation creates neuromuscular patterns between the brain and the muscles. The more these neuromuscular patterns are reinforced, the better the child’s skills will become. Parents should ensure that when they are manipulating their child’s kicking, that they focus on the actions under the water. If the child has a good feel for the water, they can move through the water more effectively. Parents should also ensure that when they manipulate the child’s kicks, that they don’t bend the child’s knees too much. Too much bend in the knee promotes ‘bicycle kicks’, which creates a less effect kicking pattern. If you need help with this, please ask your instructor.
Having parents in the water is a huge help for the instructor. Many parents have different styles of disciplining their children. Parent participation in the water can ensure that this discipline style continues throughout swimming lessons. It can be a difficult task to keep a group of young swimmers on task. Parents can help instructors achieve this by assisting their child within the swimming lesson.
Food For Thought
Having the parent participating in their child’s swimming lesson doesn’t mean that the child needs their help to swim. Your child may already possess the skills to swim unassisted. Be assured that your child will still get the opportunity to practice swimming unassisted throughout our lessons. From our point of view, the benefits of parental involvement in lessons adds value to the learn to swim process. Parental Involvement allows parents, instructors and swimmers to work together. This enables us to produce swimmers with excellent technique, good feel for the water, and a love for safe swimming.
Parents often wonder about the best way to dress their children for sporting activities. Each sport is different. For example, the correct outfit for football is very different to the correct outfit for dancing, soccer and athletics. Many parents new to learn to swim ask us questions like “what should my child wear to swimming?” and “what do all of the other children wear?”. There are many different options for swimwear and accessories for swimming lessons. Here are our suggestions for swimming attire for lessons.
Young swimmers who aren’t yet toilet trained must wear a swim nappy. Swim nappies make life easier for parents attending lessons. They work just like a regular nappy and are designed to be submerged under water. Regular nappies will fill with water and swell up. They also become heavy and will weigh a child down during lessons. Swim nappies are designed to contain ‘accidents’ until the nappy is changed. They also help us with water filtration and the cleanliness of our swimming pool.
Single use nappies can be purchased from our swim shop for $2.50 and thrown in the bin after each use. We also have reusable swimming nappies for $25.00. These have a plastic lining and cloth outside. These reusable nappies can be emptied, washed out and reused each swimming lesson.
Swimwear should be comfortable, but try not to dress your swimmer in too much clothing. Board shorts are better suited for the beach rather than swimming lessons. This is because lots of material tends to get in the way and weigh swimmers down, making it harder for them to swim. The same applies for swim shirts. They are great for sun safety when you are swimming outdoors, but they are not needed when your child is doing their swimming lessons indoors. If swim shirts are too loose, they make it hard for children to move their arms effectively. As a general rule, tighter swimwear is better for children when they are learning to move through the water at swimming lessons. For the girls, 1 or 2 piece swimwear is suitable. For the boys, underpants shaped swimwear or bike pant length swimwear works well.
We recommend that caps should be worn in swimming lessons when your child’s hair is long enough to get in their eyes. You can buy two different styles of cap from our swim shop. One is rubber, and the other is lycra.
Rubber swim caps are mostly worn by older swimmers and slide on over the child’s head. They usually come in a standard size and stretch to fit over the swimmer’s head. Hair can be tucked up inside the cap, so it doesn’t drag down behind the swimmer, or get in their eyes during the lesson. Rubber caps can pull longer hair as they are placed on the head if you try and rush putting it on. These caps are great for keeping hair or ears dry (when combined with earplugs/earbands) and come in many different brands and colours. We have a wide variety of rubber swim caps for sale at the swim shop.
Lycra swim caps are often easier to slide onto smaller heads as they tend to slide on more easily. These caps don’t keep hair dry, and they tend to stretch and lose their elasticity with age. They are quite easy to put on and don’t pull hair as they go on. They should be washed and hung out to dry after the lesson to keep them in good condition.
There are many different types and styles of goggles available at our swim shop. Goggles are an essential item in any swimmer’s equipment bag. They have an important place in learn to swim, however, they should not be relied upon heavily in the early stages of learning to swim. It’s important to remember that if children fall in the pool, they may not be wearing their goggles. Children should continuously practise some swimming without goggles in their lesson or during play time. We’ve answered some common questions about goggles in a previous article, which you can read here.
What should I wear if I’m participating in swimming lessons with my child?
We tell parents who are participating in our babies lessons to wear whatever they feel comfortable in, as well as a loose fitting shirt. In our babies program, we teach the children to reach and grab for an adult or a wall. A loose fitting shirt is easy for babies to grab onto and learn this important skill.
Did you know that children are born with a natural grab reflex? They grasp and hold on tight to fingers, toys, hair and clothing. Teaching a child to grab the wall of a pool is very important, as a good grab may help a child save themselves in an emergency. A good grip will enable a child to hold onto the side of the pool, and ultimately climb out of the pool when they are ready.
By maintaining this grab reflex and encouraging a strong grip during swimming lessons, we can build a child’s strength and independence in the water. We can also teach the child to support their own body weight in the water. Building this strength will be great for the child’s swimming skills and beneficial for their physical development. Here are some of the ways we teach grips in our lessons:
We start this exercise with the child gripping the adults’ fingers. During the initial stages, parents can help by clasping their child’s hands between their thumb and index finger. When parents feel the child grip tight they can lift their index finger so that the child is holding on independently. Be alert in case the child lets go, particularly if they haven’t been conditioned to go underwater. Once children have a strong grip they can be guided gently through the water. As children advance through their swimming lessons, they will even enjoy letting go, submerging underwater and climbing up the adult’s t-shirt. However, as with any swimming skill parents must prepare child to do this and stop the exercise if they are showing any signs of discomfort or stress.
Hold The Wall
As a child’s physical strength improves, parents can encourage them to hold on to a pool wall. Parents should begin by supporting the child’s weight with their knee or hand. Once the child grips the wall, they will be able to practice on their own for short periods of time. Remember to be within arms reach and actively supervising at all times. If the child is happy going underwater, it will not be a great concern if they let go. If that happens, remain calm, gently guide them back onto the pool’s edge or onto you. Make sure you also reassure them that all is well. Don’t allow the child to fall underwater if they aren’t yet comfortable with independent submersions.
Children need to be able to move around the pool to a suitable exit point. This could be a stair, ledge, or a ladder. In the initial stages parents will need to assist these hand movements. Toys can be placed along the wall for a ‘game’ if children are apprehensive. As children grow stronger, they will master this skill on their own. Again, parents must always stay within arm’s reach and supervise them at all times. Drowning is a silent killer, therefore supervision is mandatory.
Food For Thought
If we can encourage children to get out of the water independently, they will learn their own capabilities in the water. If the child becomes use to their parents picking them up all the time, they will not learn their own capabilities. However, if children are taught to save themselves while under strict adult supervision, they will gradually learn what they can and can’t do in the water.
Parents often ask us how they can help they child progress in their swimming lessons. We understand that parents want to extract the most value they can for their fees. Luckily, there are a number of ways that parents can help their children make the most of swimming lessons, and get value for money. To help you do this, we’ve compiled our top five tips for making the most of the Learn-To-Swim process:
Try a holiday intensive program or adding extra lessons.
Holiday intensive programs allow you to take your child to swimming lessons every day in order to fast track their learning. The more opportunities children are given to practise the faster they will learn. Repeating the skills taught in swimming lessons multiple times throughout the week allows the child to develop these skills faster. Holiday Intensives will boost your child’s swimming ability and allow them to start learning new skills sooner.
The same applies with adding a second lesson. On average, most children complete one 30min lesson each week. If your child attends one lesson every week for 50 weeks of the year, this equates to 25hrs of swimming time for the year. That number doesn’t consider things like public holidays, student illnesses, taking the winter months off, or other life events. Adding a second lesson will instantly double your child’s swimming time and give them the opportunity to learn faster.
Visit a pool and just play!
Studies have proven that exploration is a great way for children to learn new milestones and improve existing skills. Give your child ample opportunities to play, explore and enjoy their time in the water. This fun exploration time may offer them the chance to discover skills that they may not have tried at their lessons. They may improve existing skills by playing and enjoying some free time in the water in a less structured environment.
Engage in your child’s learning
Swimmers who are in the water with a parent are lucky in that their parents are participating in the lesson. However, there is a difference between attending a lesson and being involved in a lesson. If you are in the water with your child, ensure that you are actively participating and getting involved in the learning process. Listen, ask questions if you don’t understand and partake in every activity to the best of your ability. Parents are essentially the teacher when they are in the water with their child.
Parents whose children are in a lesson without them have a bigger challenge. It is easy to zone out and take the time to plan family activities, check social media, or daydream. However, a swimmer whose parent is engaged in their lesson will participate more fully. Find a spot around the pool where your child can see you and you can see them. Watch the lesson and make eye contact with your child where possible. Give non-verbal feedback throughout the lesson such as nodding, smiling and clapping when they look to you for support. After the lesson is finished, discuss specific drills or skills that you saw your child participating in. This signals to your child that you were watching and interested in their lesson.
Attend lessons consistently
In order to see continual improvement in your child’s swimming ability you need to consistently attend swimming lessons. Making the decision to commit to swimming lessons year-round will see your child build confidence in their swimming skills and gain more independence in the water. Ceasing lessons for any period of time throughout the year, or missing multiple lessons in a row, can result in the regression of skills and confidence. We all know how hard it is to start back at the gym after a few months off. We keep going to avoid having to start all over again. The same goes for your child and their swimming development. Even the most competent swimmers can regress without consistent practice. This is why aspiring Olympians will commit to four years of training without skipping a session.
Winter is the perfect time to keep your children in swimming lessons. Unlike backyard pools and local beaches, swim school pools are fully heated. Most swim school pools are also indoors and away from the cool weather. With this in mind it makes perfect sense to continue lessons and provide your children with the best chance for improvement. For more information about swimming over winter, watch this video.
It is important to remember that learning to swim takes time and patience. It takes dedication and commitment, and it can sometimes be a slow process because each child learns differently. There may be times where you get frustrated with this and want to push your child through the program in order to get them into a higher level. When frustration sets in, relax and keep the previous tips in mind.
Also, remember to trust the advice of your child’s instructor. Each swim school has a certain curriculum to follow when they are teaching swimming. This means that your child may have to master and perform certain skills before progressing to the next level. If you have concerns about your child’s progress, talk to their instructor or the management team. They can fill you in on what your child needs to work on and what the lesson focus is for their group. Swim instructors are passionate about their jobs and have your child’s best interests at heart. Communicating with your swim school will allow you to work together to get the most benefit out of swimming lessons for your child.
Swimming Short Distances Vs. Swimming Long Distances in Learn-To-Swim.
Parents often ask us why their child isn’t swimming laps and longer distances in their lessons. Some parents think that swimming longer laps is going to help their children develop swimming skills faster. We know that parents want their children to excel in their activities, and that parents want this to happen quickly. However, there are reasons why swimming shorter distances can actually be better for the development of a child’s swimming technique.
Swimming Short Distances
Take a moment and think back to your child’s first lessons. In most cases, this was a babies class. There was none or very little independent swimming, and every task was repeated. The idea is to develop the child’s learning patterns, and set foundations through muscle memory for the rest of their lives. By practicing in short distances, your child will have the chance to perfect the skill with little room for mistakes. There are benefits for the instructor as well. They will have better class control, easier access to address any minor errors, and be able to provide instant feedback to students.
At Splash-A-Bout Swim School, our preference is to focus on technique rather than distance swum. We firmly believe a child that can swim with good technique is much safer in the water than a child that swims with poor technique. We prefer that children practice swimming skills over shorter distances in our lessons until they have perfected them. If a skill is practiced incorrectly, it will have a negative impact on the child’s muscle memory. This makes it harder to correct these bad habits if the child takes up swimming competitively when they are older.
Swimming Long Distances
All this said, swimming longer distances outside of formal lessons isn’t a terrible idea. There are legitimate reasons for your child to occasionally swim longer distances. They might want to practice for an upcoming school swimming carnival. They can also practice longer distances for safety reasons if they are around the water for recreational purposes. Longer laps in swimming lessons just doesn’t work unless the child has perfected their skills first. Take comfort in the fact that once your child has mastered the basics, they will progress to swimming longer distances.
We have parents frequently ask us questions about googles. These questions include: “Does my child need goggles?“, “When is then best age to start wearing goggles?“, “Why do you do exercises without goggles?“, and “What do I look for when buying goggles?“. Goggles are an essential item in any swimmer’s equipment bag. They have an important place in learning to swim and even more so when swimmers start training more seriously. However, goggles should not be relied upon heavily in the early stages of learning to swim. Here are some important things you should know:
Goggles can be a real blessing for swimming instructors
Goggles can help instructors working with timid swimmers who are scared or reluctant to put their face under water for two reasons. It can give swimmers a little more confidence because they can see clearly, and frightened beginners often dislike water on their face. Goggles will protect their eyes from the water, and can make lessons a little bit easier.
Goggles can be a real pain for swimming instructors
They are a pain if they are ill-fitting, or if they leak and require adjusting after each lap. Wouldn’t you rather your child’s instructor spend time on teaching important swimming and water safety skills, instead of frequently adjusting goggles? There are a few things to consider when you are purchasing goggles for your child. You’ll need goggles that suit their face shape, the size of their head, and are easily adjustable as they grow. Goggle manufacturers place recommended ages on their goggles to help guide you. It is best to try on a few different sets of goggles to find the most suitable set for your child. We stock a wide range of goggles in different styles and fits at our swim shop. Our friendly staff will help you pick a pair that your child will love!
Googles are not essential in the early stages of learning to swim.
For infants and babies, the amount of time spent underwater will be limited at the start of their learn to swim journey. As young swimmers grow, they develop better swimming skills, and spend more time under water as their breath control improves. At this point, goggles may be required if eye irritation occurs. Seek advice from your instructors but don’t become reliant on goggles. We find that children start to wear goggles when they start swimming without their parents.
Goggle free time is important in swimming lessons.
This will help to promote water safety skills. It is important to remember though that if your child has an aquatic emergency, like falling into a pool, there is a chance that they will not be wearing goggles at the time. If your child is reliant on goggles, they could panic if they fall into water without goggles. Swimmers need to understand that water is blurry if you aren’t wearing goggles, but you can still navigate your way to safety without them. If young swimmers only know how to swim or put their face under water if they are wearing goggles, do they really know how to swim or put their face under water?
Goggles can be great for water play and exploration.
By allowing swimmers to play and explore under water you are encouraging them to build their breath control. Goggles can make under water play exciting because they can see everything clearly. It also allows swimmers to grow in confidence and ability outside of formal swimming lessons.
Keep these things in mind when you are attending swimming lessons with your child. Remember, although goggles can aid in the learning process they should not be relied upon in every swimming situation. Sometimes swimmers should go without for the sake of learning water safety, and their true capabilities in the water.