Swimming is a life skill! In fact, David Sparkes, Chief Executive of the Amateur Swimming Association, is right when he says ‘Swimming is the only subject on the National Curriculum that can save your life.’. But despite the Department for Education stating that pupils should be able to swim 25 metres unaided on their front and back and use a range of personal survival skills by the end of primary school, 1 in 3 children, that’s ca. 200.000 children, leave school unable to swim.
The importance of swimming lessons for children
If you want to ensure that your child is a confident swimmer, booking private swimming lessons is a great option to help them gain not only an important life skill but also a hobby that is fun and healthy. And the best thing is that you can start as soon as your child had their first set of immunisations – that’s right, you can start taking your baby to swimming lessons a couple of weeks after they’re born.
Admittedly, you won’t see them race through the pool with perfect butterfly strokes but the first couple of years are more about making babies and toddlers familiar with the water rather than turning them professional swimmers. It’s between the ages of 4 to 8 years that children develop the required motor skills and concentration levels for structured swimming lessons, so keep that in mind when choosing the right course for your child.
What to look out for when booking swimming lessons
If you are unsure about booking swimming lessons for your baby or child, there are a couple of things you can do beforehand. First of all, it’s always a good idea to get an overview of the facilities. Let someone show you around the pool and visit one of the lessons, so you get a feel for the teaching style and atmosphere. Are the babies/children happy? Do they seem confident? The vibe you get from the children can be a great indicator of the instructor’s personality and teaching style – something incredibly important to consider.
Safety guidelines at the pool should be met at all times. That means that a qualified lifeguard should be present during lessons and general opening hours. The qualification of your kid’s swimming is equally important. Make sure that they’re certified and able to demonstrate their teaching ability across different age groups. Depending on the size of the group, there should be more than one supervisor present. Generally speaking, there should be 1 supervisor to 6 infants or 1 supervisor to 12 for non-swimmers and beginners.
Prepare your kids for swimming lessons
If you want to prepare your child for their swimming lessons, there are a couple of things you can do at home or leading up to their first lesson. Let them pick their own swimming costume and goggles and make it a really fun experience. Simply Swim has some gorgeous girls swimwear and equally great options for boys. I know I would have loved picking one of their colourful cossies when I first learnt swimming. Instead, I went for a turquoise and white stripey number with dolphins. I’m still traumatised by what happened when it got wet, so don’t ask!
Many children are scared of their face getting wet and this is something that you can definitely practice at home. Gently pour warm water over your child’s head or let them blow bubbles into the water. Floating and leg kicking are also great skills that you can practice in the bathtub.
What are your top tips for parents who are looking into swimming lessons for their kids? What did you look out for?