Raising your kids to be independent, skillful people can seem like a full-time job. But usually, the skills are easy to relate: riding a bike, after all, is something that just about every parent is able to demonstrate to their kids. Same goes for basic around-the-house chores like watering plants or taking out the garbage. But when it comes to one basic life skill that every kid should have, many parents are so unsure of themselves that they simply outsource the entirety of the job to someone else: swim instructors.
In many cases, this is simply good parenting sense: they don’t want to put their kids at risk in the water because of their own parental issues in teaching swimming. But it doesn’t have to be as risky or complicated as you think if you want to teach your children to swim, and you don’t have to be completely uninvolved with the process. Here are some principles for teaching your child to swim.
Progression: The Key to Safe Learning
At some point, you’ll want to let proper swim instructors teach your children how to swim. But that doesn’t mean you can’t build up to it by getting your children used to the water. Many parents recommend teaching your children some principles of swimming while they’re in the bathtub – there, they’re under your immediate supervision and there is not a risk of the child being completely submerged or struggling to reach the surface.
Once a child has demonstrated that they are able to hold their breath underwater, for example, and that they know how to move water around easily, they should be ready to move on to a more advanced setting, such as a swimming pool. Keeping the principle of “progression” in mind, however, will mean that you’re not ready to turn your child lose quite yet.
Instead, hold them over the water as they gain experience of the feeling of being in a lot of water. Teach them to kick in order to keep themselves up; you don’t necessarily want them swimming in open water by themselves right away, but you do want to gradually see improvement. Don’t move on to the next steps until a child has mastered the previous step – this applies throughout the entire learning experience.
Moving to Swim Instructions from a Professional
Having exposed your child to water, you should have an idea of the skill level they’re at. If they’ve been able to swim in open water by themselves, it may be time for full swim instructions from a professional – though some parents opt for instructions even before this point.
What can an instructor do that you can’t? For one, instructors that are certified are trained to handle swimming emergencies and can provide CPR should the situation require it. Additionally, an instructor will be able to teach various strokes and kicks that you might not remember from your own days of swimming instruction, however much you’ve been able to impart to your child on your own. Above all, keep safe: if you’re unsure about your own ability to teach swimming, then don’t do it – leave it to the professionals.