Ensure your little ones are safe in and around the water this summer.
The team at Paul Sadler Swimland teach children from four months old to learn to swim in Australia. Despite changes to governance and policies over the years, the fundamentals of learning to swim remain the same; being safe in and around the water, and most importantly to respect the water, all whilst having a hoot of a time.
Here's what every parent needs to know when getting their child ready for the water - from Senior Swim Teacher Shona Pallas.
1. What should I look for when picking a swim school for my child?
It’s important that any swim school you research has:
• A Swim Australia Five star accreditation
• Swimming pool/s filled with warm water (32 degrees)
• A welcoming, child friendly and engaging environment
I would always recommend doing a visit of the facility before enrolling your child into any program. How you feel on arrival is always a great indicator!
2. What sort of swim equipment will my child need to start swimming?
• Swim wear with firm fitting legs or an aqua nappy are essential for children four months to two years
• A hair band or swim cap is needed to keep hair out of their eyes
Once your child is up to learning strokes, I would recommend the use of goggles but before then, it’s important that every child learns to be comfortable in the water without goggles. This will ensure that they’re able to open their eyes if they were to ever fall into the water unexpectedly.
3. What is the best age to send my child to swimming lessons?
Four months old is a great age to start swimming lessons. It will allow them to be completely relaxed in the water from a young age and begin to teach them a healthy respect for what can otherwise be a dangerous situation.
4. How can I prepare my child for lessons at home?
• Making bath time fun!
If you can always make sure that bath time is a fun, relaxing time together and not a rushed necessity, your child will learn to associate this routine as an enjoyable one.
• Prepare your child for submersion by pouring water over their head.
It is important at this time to always give them a cue for example ‘Michael, are you ready?...1,2,3’ and then pour from the back of their head to the front, so the water does not go up their nose. Start with a small amount and then progress to more.
• Children learn most from mirroring our behaviours
It’s a great idea to have a bath and shower with your child to show them it’s ok to have water over their face and to put their head under water.
5. How long should it take to see my child progress?
All children progress at very different rates and often hit plateaus at different points throughout their aquatic education. It also depends on the age your child begins their swim lessons. Having said this, you should see small successes on a regular basis and your child should be challenged to extend themselves every lesson.
6. What is the best way to encourage my child to swim?
The best way to get a child to do anything is through positive reinforcement and setting small achievable goals so they are regularly seeing success.
As parents we often celebrate the milestones, like achieving a new certificate or moving up a group in swimming. However, we forget to celebrate when our child tries something new for the first time and steps out of their comfort zone.
These small successes are often hard for a child to achieve and it is important we acknowledge this every time a small threshold is crossed.
7. What are some healthy snack ideas for before and after swimming activity?
• Bananas are a great pre-swimming snack – they’re easily digested and provide a great energy hit for the activity that will follow
• Half of a peanut butter sandwich
Ensure your child has had something to eat but is not swimming with a belly full of fatty or sugary foods as this will lead to fatigue and often an upset stomach.