Swim Tips for Parents
Swimming lessons are a vital part of water safety education. Recently many parents have expressed their concern at not being able to afford or access formal lessons in their local area. Learn to swim expert Laurie Lawrence has put together his top swim tips to help parents in this situation. Laurie said “children can learn great swimming and water safety skills through regular play and exploration under adult supervision”.
Tip 1. Exposure is the key
Children with home pools usually turn into the best little swimmers. Why? Because they are in the pool every day. Laurie suggests taking your child at least twice a week for a swim. He said “kids going regularly for a play will even have an advantage over kids who only have one swimming lesson a week”.
Tip 2: Master independent floating
Laurie believes “floating is the basis of all learn to swim”. He encourages parents to make independent floating on the front and back the first priority. He recommends parents avoid “floaties” and teach natural buoyancy and a feel of the water. Laurie said “children who can float learn to move efficiently through the water rather than thrashing and struggling to keep themselves afloat”. Kickboards can be used for balance in the early learning stages.
Tip 3. Encourage independence
While Laurie insists supervision at arms length is vital, he believes that independence is the key to build great swimming skills. For this reason he encourages parents to wear a t shirt and not to over handle their children in the pool. Laurie said “stay low in the water and let children grip you, teach them to recover independently instead of picking them up after swims”. Laurie suggests playing in shallow water, monkey hands around pool edges and climbing out of the pool to build independence. He said “building independence will teach children their limitations, boundaries and a respect for the water”.
Tip 4. Build skills slowly
According to Laurie learning to swim properly will take years to accomplish. Laurie said “people try to rush and put too many skills together at the same time”. He explains that you should build one skill at a time and follow the learning progressions of water familiarisation, breath control, submersion, floating, kicking, paddling and breathing. Laurie said “water safety skills should underpin the entire learn to swim process”.
Tip 5. Swimming must be fun
Don’t forget to have fun, fun, fun! Laurie believes that being in the water with your child is perfect for bonding and giving them your undivided attention. Laurie recommends parents model safe swimming behaviours and teaching children to read and follow pool rules.
While the swimming pool is the greatest hazard, Laurie stresses that children must learn about water safety in all environments. With the support of the Australian Government, Laurie has produced a water safety DVD, music CD and 4 books to help teach children safety messages in a fun way. This pack has been delivered free to every early learning centre and swim school in Australia by Australia Post. Parents can also access these materials for free at the following link https://kidsalive.com.au/early-childhood-program/