Warm winds and warm waters mean summertime fun. For families with children, one of the most important activities is to get your kiddos into swim classes. This is crucial for water safety but also builds, self-esteem, physical confidence, camaraderie and promotes good health – all things we want to give our children.
What the Experts Say
The American Academy of Pediatrics state that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional deaths among children. These drowning rates are highest among children in the one to two years age range. However, the USA Swimming Foundation notes that with one month of formal swimming lessons, children are less likely to drown while swimming. And AAP recommends swimming lessons for infants as early as one year old.
The bottom line is that water is around us everywhere. From the 10.4 million residential pools to the 309,000 public pools, the opportunity to enjoy water fun is everywhere. Also consider that rivers, beaches and local ponds are within reach of many children, but not every pond is a swimming hole. Children need to understand how to be safe around these bodies of water and the simple skills that can help them get out of trouble if needed. Time in the water can be fun but it can also be dangerous.
Starting Swim Lessons
Children are naturally drawn to water so the best protection is to start swim lessons when they begin walking. While they won’t develop full swimming skills, they will learn to float and put their face under the water. They will also learn to respect bodies of water. These skills also apply when children are around the bathtub or hot tub – areas that parent often don’t think about protecting.
Importance of Learning to Swim
What can begin as developing a simple life skill can become a lifelong enjoyment. Olympic swimmer Rowdy Gaines has said that swimming provides a full body workout that is less stressful on joints. Developing these skills provides an exercise opportunity that burns calories and provides opportunities for fun. While children are learning to float, they are also learning life saving skills, which otherwise they might not. It’s estimated that roughly half of all children don’t develop the necessary water safety skills needed for their protection.
Lasting Benefits of Learning to Swim
All parents want their children to be safe and happy. Often, time spent on the beach, a boat or around the pool is part of your vacation times together. These lazy hours can create memories that will last a lifetime. Learning to swim is a natural part of engaging in these activities. Vacation time aside, there are more benefits to learning to swim that you may not have considered.
Children today are often engaged with a phone or computer screen of some kind, so getting them into a physical activity like swimming can help them exercise and burn fat in a low stress environment. Swimming also promotes flexibility and muscular development. During swim sessions, the lungs and heart are engaged, which promotes their healthy development. Swim students see increased strength and stamina. This promotes physical endurance. All of these things can reduce the likelihood of childhood conditions such as juvenile diabetes and obesity.
While swimming is physically beneficial, it can also have mental health benefits. From a sensory standpoint, swimming is a relaxing experience that provides relief from stress, anxiety and depression. Also, the bilateral movements of swimming can improve cognition and motor skills. The act of swimming also boosts blood flow which improves a child’s ability to focus. This can enhance abilities in school during reading, writing and math. And studies are beginning to suggest that children who engage in early swimming programs are more advanced than their peers.
Emotional and Social Skill Development
When children are enrolled in swimming programs, they learn to work with other children. Through the opportunity to socialize, they often make new friends and will begin to develop the soft skills of empathy, creativity, problem solving and adaptability. If they participate in sporting events, they will learn self discipline, leadership, teamwork and sharing, and develop a healthy self esteem.
The foundational reason to enroll your child in a swim class is for increased safety. The USA Swimming Foundation states that no environment is ever completely water safe, so swim lessons make children safer in, on and around water. Simple swim lessons can reduce a child’s risk of drowning by 88%. That makes low or no-cost swim lessons an important investment into helping your child develop an important life skill. A child who has learned swim basics will be less at risk in a fall into the water.
As a low-impact form of exercise, your child will expend a lot of energy. This translates into being more tired at bedtime and ready for sleep. This helps to develop healthy sleep patterns. Active children will also be more open to considering healthy food choices when they arrive at the dinner table hungry, helping to avoid obesity and also bolstering self-esteem. All of these things provide a foundation for a stronger life today and in the future.
When you are considering your next vacation at the beach or spending some time on a boat, get your children enrolled in swimming classes. If will teach them important skills and give you some peace of mind. While swim classes don’t guarantee complete protection, they do a lot to reduce your child’s risks around water. Make your next water adventure safe and happy!