It can be difficult for a parent to watch your little one scream and cry as soon as they approach the class let alone enter the pool. There are children who take to the water straight-off and others may take a few lessons, even up to a couple of months before they start to feel comfortable in the water.
Swim instructors are generally trained to handle these situations, there are a few things that you can do to help make swimming lessons a more enjoyable experience for your child.
1. Preparing for day one of lessons
On the first occasion your child has been in the pool without you, the change can create uncertainty, and transition can be made easier with your support:
Talk about swimming classes & lessons a few weeks leading into the first lesson, so your child has a good idea of what to expect.
Explain to your little one they will be in the water with a teacher and other children, and mum and/or dad will be watching from the side of the pool.
Create some small goals for the first day of class, that might include bravely entering the pool, listening to the teacher and trying some of the fun activities and games with the children.
Having small first day goals will make a huge difference in the long run and creates a lot of opportunities for positive praise and reinforcement.
2. Day one of swimming lessons
The most important ingredient on the first day of swimming classes & lessons is for mum and dad to be calm and excited to be attending swimming lessons. Showing signs of anxiety or nervousness will transfer to your child. To help both mum and dad, and your little one ease into day one it is helpful to:
Not to rush or allowing other factors that can create sense of panic or stress.
Plan to arrive at the pool early, so you and your swimmer can potentially observe prior classes. If you are the first lesson of the day, ask if you can attend a different day to just sit and watch, so your child can see just how much fun swimming lessons are.
If you get to the pool and your swimmer is already scared and in tears, it is critical to remain calm, and highlight how much fun swimming is and reflect on some of the small goals you may have agreed on prior.
Trust the swimming coaches & instructors and pool deck staff as they know what to do, as we all have extensive experience helping children through this period. The more confident and supportive you are, the quicker your child will accept he or she is in good hands.
3. What if your child doesn’t settle
Most of the time our children settle down within minutes, however there are a few who will remain upset the entire lesson. Is very important not to worry as this isn’t unusual, tears are a normal reaction.
Staying in the water for an entire class is a BIG achievement for a first-time swimmer and must be celebrated and praised.
Tell your child how proud you are that they stuck it out. It is useful to share stories of your life where you did something you were not sure about, and how you enjoyed it.
When at home during bath time start practicing some skills from the swimming class such as blowing bubbles, using goggles and pouring water over your child’s head. You can even practice floating in the bath-tub.
Speak to our deck supervisors about activities & proper technique that are consistent with our program.
Finally, persistence is GOLD. By remaining positive & supportive of swimming lessons will help your child make the adjustment and ultimately development a sense of achievement and confidence.
Our goal is to ensure all children feel safe and supported in the water. The focus in the early stages of our learn to swim program is to build water safety skills in children, helping to make them drown-proof in the event that they ever accidentally fell into water. Parents play a critical role in helping accomplish this goal with every student.
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