We are thrilled to have our Corporate Fundraising Partner, Aquatic Achievers, answer some common questions we get when it comes to water safety and swimming skills for children.
Have a read through this great educational piece, and if you have any further questions, you can contact Aquatic Achievers through their website here. They have swim schools across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT – check them out and see if there’s one near you.
What is the best age to start swimming lessons?
The earlier the better! It's widely accepted that children who start swimming early become more comfortable and confident in the water. This encourages a genuine love of swimming and removes learning barriers as they get older. Most swim schools offer infant lessons from 3-4 months of age but there's nothing to say parents can't practice water familiarisation activities in the meantime. The bathtub is a great place to start, but if you feel like heading to the pool just remember to make sure the water is warm enough for your little one and hold off on submersions until you have some professional support.
How do I know my child is ready to swim on their own with me supervising, but not being in the pool with them?
Independent but actively supervised swimming should be reserved for children who are confident, capable and able to assess risk and make good decisions around water. If you have discussed potential hazards with your child and trust their judgement, then it's just a matter of physical ability and experience.
A good physical indicator that a child might be ready to swim independently is if they have mastered some key safety skills like floating, rolling from front positions to back positions, survival strokes and safe entry and exit techniques.
My child wants to start Nippers, but I am worried they are not a strong enough swimmer. Is that something Aquatic Achievers could help with?
Learning to swim is a life-long skill that enables children to participate in a range of other activities. Learning to swim would be an excellent base to build on for children wanting to start Nippers – it could even open doors to aquatic careers. Who wouldn't want the opportunity to be a marine biologist, surf instructor or dolphin trainer?
Children who take part in swimming lessons often display advanced levels of social and cognitive development. Swimming has been recognised as an activity that increases endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness, and this would be a huge advantage when starting Nippers.
What if my child is afraid of water?
Accomplished swim teachers will be able to help children overcome fear by employing various tried and true techniques and adapting teaching styles to cater to the individual where possible. Empowering nervous swimmers is often a balancing act of trying not to minimise the child's fear while also trying not to over dramatise or draw attention to it. Building trust and confidence is key to creating a relaxed atmosphere where children can learn and grow, so it's important to help foster a relationship with your child's teacher and contribute to making it a positive experience.
What can I do to encourage my child to enjoy water and apply themselves in lessons?
Cheer them on! Learning anything new can be challenging, and swimming is an essential skill that requires lots of determination and practice. Give them encouragement and praise for their success, even if it's a small win. A treat after class is always a nice reward for effort.
It’s important to make swimming and water play an enjoyable activity outside of lessons too. You can start small with younger children by splashing, blowing bubbles, singing songs and playing games. Older children often appreciate an outing where they have a chance to practice some newly acquired skills and explore the water. How ever you decide to engage with water, remember to have fun and look forward to all the other exciting things you can do once you can swim; things like going to the beach, kayaking, surfing, snorkelling and so much more!
What are the top 5 things I can do to help my child be safe around water?
- Make sure your child knows how to swim
- Actively supervise children around any body of water
- Practice what to do in an emergency and reinforce the message to save yourself first and then get help
- Teach your child how to call 000 and recite their address
- Take a CPR course