It’s summer time! What does that mean? Sunglasses, flip-flops, sunscreen and POOL TIME! Wait a second…pool time with a child is not much fun because my child does not know how to swim. It’s restricting. It’s stressful.
Not to worry – we want to help you have some FUN in the pool this summer!
Tips for FUN in the pool with kids:
Safety in and around the water is the number one most important thing that you can teach your child. Even if your child is a non-swimmer start by explaining common pool rules. Do not run, never get into the water without an adult, locate the ladders for entry and exit before getting in. I also have stressed to my son that if he plans to jump in the water, he needs to first yell “Mom, I’m jumping in!” and then he needs to wait for me to say OK before he jumps. Teaching your child safety in and around the pool from an early age will help prevent many accidents.
By 12 weeks most children are safe and cleared by their pediatricians to enter pool water. Start young! Make it a regular schedule to take your child to an indoor or outdoor pool to get them used to being in the water. Introducing your child at an early age will help reduce the fear of water at an older age. If your child is older and scared of the water, bring fun pool toys to accompany them in the water. Rewarding a child of getting into the water always works too!
Did she just say “No goggles?!” Yes I did. Introducing your child to the water needs to be as natural as possible. Letting your kids know that it is okay to open their eyes underwater and explore gives them the ability to be able to enjoy the water without any fear.
Now hear me out. Flotation devices are lifesavers. They are intended for non-swimmers. Kids
NEED to have a flotation devices on if they are in OR around the water without close adult supervision. If your goal is to teach your child how to swim on their own, it is going to take time and dedication on the parent’s end which means you will HAVE to be in the water with your child at all times. Taking the flotation device off your child while you are in the water near them AT ALL TIMES gives your child the ability to feel the water naturally on their bodies and how to maneuver themselves in it. AGAIN, I cannot stress enough, if you do not plan to be in the water with your child at all times helping them learn to swim, put their flotation device on.
Fun, Fun and MORE Fun!
Having a fun with your child in the water will create a more relaxing and fun environment to be able to teach your child swim techniques. Here are a couple game ideas to play with your child in the water.
Getting used to the water – Take a watering can or squirt toy. Pretend that you are a flower. Have your child water the top of your head and pretend that you are growing. Then water the top of your child’s head and pretend that they are growing. Repeat as long as you guys are having fun!
Blowing Bubbles – Motor boat, motor boat go so slow (blow bubbles in water) Motor boat, motor boat go so fast (blow bubbles in water) Motor boat, motor boat run out of gas! (go underwater quickly *if your child is in under the age of 6mos, blow in their face for them to hold their breath*)
Going underwater – This can be done in a group or just with the adult and child, hold both hands and start bouncing around in circles in the water: “Ring around the rosie, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down!” (Go underwater quickly together and come back up.)
Holding breath underwater – Get a couple underwater toys that sink to the bottom, my son’s favorite were the Disney Car’s Diving Toys. Start out on the top step or the most shallow part of the pool. Place the toys underwater and instruct your child to retrieve them. Let them know it is okay to open their eyes. Once they retrieve the toys, make sure to give them lots of praise and move the diving toys to more of a deeper spot. Continue as long as child and adult are comfortable.
We have discussed so much but what about actually getting my child to swim? Here are a few swim exercises to work with your child in the pool to foster proper swim technique.
Floating on Back -Dip down to where your chest is in the water letting your child’s head rest on one shoulder. Have your child look up to the sky and tell them to be a “starfish”. Remind them to keep their chin away from their chest, belly up and have them sing their “ABC’s” or “Twinkle Twinkle.”
Floating on Stomach – Start on a step or where your child can touch. Tell them to put their face
in the water first and to blow bubbles. This helps them not to inhale the water as well as learning to hold their breath. Position yourself on the side of your child holding their waist and have them be a starfish, blow bubbles, look down at the bottom of the pool and float on their stomach.
Kicking – Using a kick board hold on to the front of the kick board (or the edge of the pool if you do not have one) leading your child across the pool. Tell them to “kick, kick, kick!”. Remind them to make big splashes with their feet. Have them practice kicking slow and fast. Make sure your child’s body doesn’t start to sink down into the water at an angle. Playing “Red Light, Green Light” while kicking is always a fun game too!
Gliding Under Water – Have your child start near the side wall of the pool. Instruct them that they are going to be “Superman” or “Supergirl”. Have them put their arms up over their head squeezing their ears with the side of their arms. Remind them to blow bubbles the whole time. Have them put their face in the water to push off and glide! After several times, have them try adding a kick to the glide as well.
Arms – Tell your child they are going to scoop ice cream but can only get one scoop at a time. Ask them to pick two of their favorite flavors. Chocolate and vanilla are our favorites. Create a scoop with your hand and reach forward with one arm saying “Chocolate” , now reach with the other hand saying “Vanilla”, keep repeating “Chocolate, Vanilla, Chocolate, Vanilla.”
Teaching your child to love the pool takes time. If it is important to you for your child to become a swimmer, it will take being in a pool on a regular basis. After all the hard work your child will become a swimmer in no time, and the drink that has been waiting for you to sip pool side will be there ready for you saying “Well deserved Mom, well deserved”. Have fun!
What are some fun ways you have taught your child how to swim?