Children can begin going to swim lessons at as young as three months of at New York City YMCA pools. Most other pools allow children to begin lessons at about six months or as soon as they can reasonably hold up their own heads. While you cannot expect your infant to be swimming a perfect breast stroke by the end of a session of swim lessons, you can expect them to be comfortable in the water and on their way to water safety.
Most parent-child swim classes for very young children focus on getting the children comfortable in the water. Swim classes shouldn't be a traumatic experience if you are patient with your child. Before dunking his head under the water, get him comfortable with water on his face by pouring a little over his head during bath time. Once he is comfortable in the water, the class will usually move on to facilitate an understanding of holding your breath. Children need to learn that they cannot inhale when they are underwater. Many children have to learn this the hard way, but will remember the lesson after only one mistake.
Once children have mastered holding their breath when underwater, they can start learning to blow bubbles. Sometimes these skills are taught in reverse order or simultaneously, depending on the instructor's preference. You can practice blowing bubbles at home during bath time to reinforce the lessons at the pool. It's a good idea to try to attend three to four swim lessons a week. If that isn't possible for your family, try to reinforce as many of the concepts as you can at home in the tub.
Find the Side
One of the most important safety skills a child can learn is how to find the side of the pool. Children will learn to sit on the edge of the pool, slide in, and then turn around and hold the side. Should your child ever fall into a swimming pool, this skill could save his life. If he can master it, he will survive a fall into water even without knowing how to hold his breath.
One of the most advanced skills taught in most parent-child swim classes is how to back float. Many children don't become comfortable with the idea of floating until they are nearly four years old. The very idea that if you do nothing and lay still, your body will float all by itself is a difficult one for children to grasp, and they will not float successfully until they stop resisting. Once your child is old enough to trust that his body can float without his help, he will be ready to learn back floats.
- Photo Credit mother and baby in pool image by Photoeyes from Fotolia.com
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