From our previous blog which talked about what to expect from teaching your baby how to swim. This one would be focusing about teaching your toddlers or children aged two to five years old about swimming and what to look for in their development and performance.
There are two main ways of getting your child into the water. The first is called seated entry. Here, you and your child should sit side by side at the edge of the pool, and you should then reach across your child, swivel across them and face them as you enter the water. You do this so that your child is never alone in the water. Once you're in the pool, encourage your child to independently enter the water. To do so they should turn onto their front and wiggle down into the pool slowly, always holding on to the side.
The second method is using the ladder steps. You should also enter the water first with this method so that your child is never in the water by themselves. You should demonstrate to your child how to enter the water as you do it yourself. Turn to face away from the water and hold on to the hand rails at all times; then one foot at a time, move downwards on the steps. Once you are in the water stay close to the steps and encourage your child to enter the same way in which you did. There shouldn't be a need to hold onto your child unless they are struggling as you want to encourage independence.
When your child is able to hold onto the side and move their way to an exit, they are well on their way to being water safe. The key point here is to encourage your child to hold onto the side, then move along the side with a hand-on-hand motion. Once again, always be there for support in case your child needs it, but by this age your child should be able to move themselves along the side of the pool safely.
For exercise, you may use pool noodles rather than fixed floatation devices such as armbands or rubber rings because it encourages your child to find their own independence in the water. It also gives them the ability to find their own buoyancy and a freer movement in using their arms and legs. Children can also become over-reliant on fixed floatation equipment, so the use of pool noodles are ideal because they provide the minimum amount of flotation for them to be able to move safely in the water. It’s most important to note that while we allow the child to learn to be independent, we need to make sure there is always adult supervision at all times within arms-length for safety. Using pool toys is a great way to get your child reaching and it gives them a great target to aim towards, which helps to extend their independence. Once they become confident, you can begin to remove their dependence on the noodle. With developed leg kicks, your child can support themselves across the chest but they have to work a little harder—which is great practice for them. They're also be controlling their own balance and buoyancy better.
The next exercise is such an important life skill because if a child were to fall in the water beyond their depth, they can tread in the water to stay afloat long enough to call someone or wait for help to arrive. To start learning this skill, one short pool noodle is needed. While this is placed under your child's arms, encourage your child to look up to the sky and use both their arms and legs to turn in the water. We can tell them to imagine riding a bicycle to get that idea of constant motion and turning in the water. As a parent, you are involved with a light touch on your child's hips just to help them with the turning motion, but also to keep them upright in the water so that their legs are generally pointing straight down towards the bottom of the pool. Children can have tendency to roll backwards or forwards in the water so it's important they learn to stay upright. Encourage your child to turn, turn, turn using their arms and legs while you help to keep their head above the water as much as possible, and help keep them upright. As they get more confident, your involvement can lessen to a point where you aren't needing to support them at all. We want to emphasize again that while this skill will make your child much safer in the water, they should be supervised when practicing in the water at all times.
There are a lot of things to discover about your child's development as a swimmer and other forms of swimming which would benefit your child's ability in any aquatic environments. At The Noodies Swim School we are more than welcome to help you out in developing your child further, always teaching our students water safety and readiness. Don't hesitate to send us a message for a swim class.