This week, we are starting Splash Pool and swimming lessons for all of the Early Years’ students. Swimming is really popular in the Early Years and has huge benefits not only for your children’s health, physical development and mental well-being but for their confidence as well. Swimming is a life skill and we are so privileged to be able to offer this opportunity to the children. Recent research highlights how swimming can also be seen as a way to relax the mind and uplift the spirit, providing children with a positive outlook on life and dispelling any sadder feelings.
We must also emphasise the importance of teaching water safety skills, as it reduces the risk of an emergency if a child falls into an unguarded pool. www.KidsHealth.org quotes ‘drowning is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages 5 and 24.’ By teaching your children to swim, we can better prevent these distressing incidences like this from happening and will prepare children for swimming outside of school. This will open up new opportunities for future water sport hobbies, or even later jobs, that may involve being in the water such as a lifeguard, fisherman or scuba diving instructor.
Livestrong.com suggests a variety of basic skills and activities for you to try with your children in the water;
During a water play lesson
- We start in shallow water, preferably at a level where your child can stand and sit with his head above water.
- Sing songs and teach your child to splash and blow bubbles.
- Sit your child on the side of the pool and teach them to kick their feet on the surface of the water.
- Hold your child under the armpits in chest-deep water and play ‘Motorboat’. Walk backward in a circle and encourage him to blow bubbles and kick his feet.
- Place dive toys on the ground in shallow water and encourage your child to pick them up. Instruct them to blow bubbles at the surface of the water while they bend to retrieve the objects.
- Hold your child under the armpits in chest-deep water and instruct them to take a breath and hold it on the count of three. At three, submerge both yourself and your child under water.
- Sit your child on the side of the pool and help them to jump in by holding them under the armpits and by pulling them into the water. As they grow comfortable with this skill, try it from a standing position. This can help a child to overcome a fear of falling in the water.
Activities may include;
- Holding A Toy’s Breath
Have a child hold his breath while submerging a toy, www.parenthood.com suggests, bringing the toy above water when he needs to take another breath. The exercise enables children to realize that they are capable of holding their breath and capable of extending the duration of their held breath with practice. Children then can accompany the toys and begin to put their own faces into the water.
- Falling In
Stand in the water, let your child sit poolside, then have her fall into your arms. Cheer him/her on to motivate bolder plunges and to use her limbs freely to stay afloat and mobile in the water. (S)he will learn about buoyancy and the need for holding her breath, and she will become accustomed to water splashing on her face. Ideally, her focus will shift from falling into your protective arms to jumping into the water for the joy and independence of the experience.
- Singing in the Water
Sing familiar and active songs in the water, such as “Row, Row, Row your Boat” or “Ring Around the Rosy,” www.h20swimming.com.au suggests. The songs feature movements that enable kids to understand the resistance of water and the result of moving their limbs in this new environment. Encourage children to act out all the familiar gestures and, at the least, get their faces wet. The website cautions parents to remain optimistic and encouraging, and to be role models of relaxation and confidence in the water.
- Talking to the Fish
An important part of learning how to swim is getting used to putting your face under water. The game called "Talking to the Fish" is a good start for toddlers. In this game, tell your child to "talk to the fish" by putting their mouth in the water and blowing bubbles. Then ask them to raise their head up and put an ear close to the surface of the water to see if they can "hear" what the fish are saying back. They'll be having so much fun trying to talk to fish that they won't notice that they are also learning how to blow bubbles under water.
- Red Light, Green Light
Kicking is another key component of swimming, so "Red Light, Green Light" is a playful way to introduce toddlers to this skill. The children will hold onto the side of the pool with both hands and when the teacher shouts, "Green light," they kick like crazy, and when she shouts, "Red light," they stop.
- Motorboat Float
You can introduce the front floating position with a song called "Motorboat, Motorboat." Hold your toddler under his arms with him facing you. Walk backward with a little speed, which will propel your child into a front float. Change your speed from slow to fast and sing the lyrics, "Motorboat, motorboat, go so slow. Motorboat, motorboat, go so fast. Motorboat, motorboat…step on the gas!"
- Finding Fun Objects
Drop objects into the shallowest pool area for an older toddler to retrieve. At this age, they will need the assistance of the teacher to lower them down to grab the objects, which could be an action figure or a brightly colored plastic fish, for example. Explain that they must "rescue" the item from the bottom after taking a deep breath first. They should first learn that when the teacher says "three," it's time to hold their breath. Ask them if they are ready and wait for a response. Then say, "one, two, three," as warning and then gently lower them under the water. If a child isn't ready to go underwater, you can help them "rescue" the fish from the surface by using floating objects instead.
Things you will need to help you support your child with swimming;
- Dive toys
- Water noodle
- Floating toys
- Weighted toys that sink
Ms Julie Walton
Head of Early Years