Drowning is a major cause of unintentional death, and many victims of this unfortunate circumstance happen to be children. While parents are often skeptical of going near the water with their child, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that teaching children how to swim can be lifesaving. It’s an essential life skill that will come in handy at any age.
The brilliant thing about swimming though, is that it offers a range of benefits that go far beyond its lifesaving abilities. Here are some reasons why your child needs to learn how to swim:
It’s great for health
Beginning to swim at a young age makes it easier to develop healthy habits for the present as well as the future. It acts as a cardiovascular and respiratory workout for the full body and helps in developing a child’s stamina, muscle strength, and flexibility, utilizing water as resistance. It also improves their concentration and stimulates their senses as it’s fun and relaxing for kids. Strength and coordination can be improved. Even asthmatic children can expand their lung capacity and experience fewer triggers when swimming. It’s also a great workout option for overweight/obese children who find it easier to move in water. Swimming is a full body workout for kids and is an effective way to burn calories (anywhere between 500 and 650 calories every hour).
It’s a low impact sport
Swimming is a low impact sport, which means that your child will be at a lower risk of injury unlike other sports like football, basketball or other sports. They can even rely on swimming to heal injuries from other sports well into their later years.
It helps in socialization
Swimming offers a great opportunity for the social development of your child. Swimming lessons can help children meet other kids, enjoy themselves while playing games in the pool, engage in some friendly competition, and even overcome fears and struggles together. They’ll also get an opportunity to meet kids who may be very different from the kids they’re used to seeing at school or their usual social circle. This gives them an opportunity to broaden their social circle and develop important social skills that they will carry well into adulthood.
It promotes motor skill development and coordination
Swimming at an early age promotes the development of gross motor skills and improves hand eye coordination. This ambidextrous activity helps to improve functioning in the left and right sides of the brain. It has been found to boost language development in children and their ability to read and write. It also helps in building self-discipline, the benefits of which carry over into your child’s schoolwork and other activities. This can help to boost academic and lifelong achievement in your child.
It promotes trust and confidence
Exposing children to water at an early age can alleviate a lot of their fears associated with water and help them stay relaxed around it. They’re less likely in such cases to have panic attacks when they’re around water. Positive associations can be created between the child and water so that it’s easier for them to stay calm when they see water around.
It’s also a sport that places value on individual achievement and not necessarily competition, pushing your child towards goal setting and achievement. There’s no need for a particular skill set in swimming – it’s something that can be developed through practice and training. With greater motivation to develop their skills and more trust in their relationship with the water, they’re likely to have more self-confidence and strive towards achieving their individual goals.
It creates a bonding experience
Swimming offers an excellent opportunity for you to bond with your child. The special bonding experience that results from swimming with your child can help in your child’s overall development. It also creates a positive relationship between you and your child and gives them happy childhood memories that they can carry for life. In fact, children who swim with their parents between formal swimming lessons make progress a lot faster than those who swim only at formal swimming lessons. Personality development is hugely impacted by one’s childhood experiences so by creating positive experiences for your child and making swimming a fun activity that they can enjoy, you’re creating the foundation for a strong personality.
It’s a lifelong skill
Swimming is a skill much like riding a bike – once it’s acquired, it can’t be forgotten. If your child learns to swim early on in life, they can not only participate in a fun activity but also have developed a skill that they can use for life.
It cools them off on a hot summer day
As swimming is a lifelong skill, they can use it whenever they want to get some respite from the heat of the summer. Jumping into the water isn’t just a fun thing to do, it’s also an easy way to cool off when the weather seems too hot to handle.
It can save their life
Apart from these, the most obvious reason why it’s important for your child to learn how to swim is because if they ever find themselves in a difficult situation in water, be it at a friend’s sunshine coast fibreglass pool or the beach, they can make their way to safety by making use of this important life skill. In this way, swimming could help to save their life.
When should your child learn to swim?
So now that you’re convinced of the importance of children learning how to swim, you may be wondering, “What is the appropriate age to get them started on learning this important life skill?”
Usually starting at 6 months of age can help create positive experiences with water and make swimming fun for kids later on in life. Earlier than this, the bathing process can be used to establish a sense of joy associated with water and make this a happy experience for the child.
Pre-conditioning your child to develop a positive interaction with water can be done by using verbal triggers and positively seeing water. You can even get some older kids to practise breath control and be prepared for submersions whenever formal lessons commence. These simple tasks may not seem like much to you, but they help to create a positive association that makes it easier for your child to learn swimming when they actually begin formal swimming lessons.
While many parents fear introducing their children to swimming this early, it has actually been found that early familiarisation with swimming makes kids a lot more confident about swimming. They don’t panic when they see water like so many older kids do on being exposed to swimming for the first time.
By the age of 4, children should be able to enter as well as leave the water safely. With practice, they must be able to swim without pausing for at least 50 metres by the age of 12. Water safety practices and techniques must be taught so that your child makes the most of their swimming skill while staying protected.
Active parental supervision is required for this and you must ensure that you’ve got your eyes on them at all times and aren’t distracted by anything in the vicinity.