Things are warming up so this is a friendly PSA for parents to sign your littles up for swim lessons! Lately, I have seen so many articles highlighting controversial swim lesson techniques, which I fear could turn parents and caregivers away from signing up for swim lessons altogether. Our family loves being by the water whether at the beach, lake, or pool, but from a very young age my own parents instilled a healthy respect for water and how it can become dangerous so quickly. My mother at a young age witnessed a friend in her youth group drown at a local lake, while friends tried to dive down and save him. Many of you have similar stories that hit even close to home and I get chills thinking that swim lessons are not the full answer, but they are so important.
Before I share the tips I have around both finding swim lessons that are right for your child and your family, I am also reminded of the powerful story of Bode Miller’s daughter, Emmy who drowned. Out of this terrible tragedy they partnered with the American Association of Pediatrics to bring more awareness to drowning. You can see a clip of that campaign below:
According to the AAP, the layers of protection should include:
- All children and adults should learn to swim. If swim lessons are suspended in your area due to coronavirus, it is important to add other layers of protection until your child can access lessons.
- Close, constant, attentive supervision around water is important. Assign an adult ‘water watcher,’ who should not be distracted by work, socializing, or chores.
- Around the house, empty all buckets, bathtubs and wading pools immediately after use. If you have young children, keep the bathroom door closed, and use toilet locks to prevent access.
- Pools should be surrounded by a four-sided fence, with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Research shows pool fencing can reduce drowning risk by 50%. Additional barriers can include door locks, window locks, pool covers and pool alarms.
- Adults and older children should learn CPR.
- Everyone, children and adults, should wear US Coast Guard-approved life jackets whenever they are in open water, or on watercraft.
- Parents and teens should understand how using alcohol and drugs increases the risk of drowning while swimming or boating.
With that being said here are some tips that my husband and I use for our own family with 4 kids age 8 and under:
My husband and I are very verbal about who is the designated “water watcher” and who may be able to rotate out to take a child to the restroom or grab a snack, etc. You can download a free care on SafeKids.org. While my husband and I don’t have a card we do try to vocalize very clearly who is the assigned Water Watcher.
We sign our kids up for swim lessons by the age of 3 and we require that those who cannot pass the swim test at our pool wear their puddle jumper even while on the pool deck. My experience is that little ones around water can be so quick as in one minute they are sitting having a snack on a deck chair and the next they are jumping in again so it is best to keep the puddle jumper on.
I also try to get in the water with my kids from a very young age so that they are familiar with water early on and I truly enjoy it most when I am in the water within an arms length reach of them. For my son this past summer we used the Mambo baby float and I loved it and highly recommend it as it allowed him to recline in the water and this summer he can face forward in a more natural swim position.
For dark water settings like the lake, we require our daughters to always have on life jackets or puddle jumpers as a rule when they are on the dock, actively swimming, riding on the boat, or participating in water sport activities such as tubing, wake boarding, knee boarding, or water skiing.
I try to encourage my children to take breaks about every 45 minutes when we are swimming to have a snack and rest before reentering the water. This is a great time to assess sunscreen too.
We do not personally have a pool in our backyard, but if we are at a vacation home that has one, I am hyper vigilant of gates and locks to ensure those are secured. My kids love water so I also have conversations with them to make them aware that they cannot go inside the pool gate or on the dock without an adult present. While I know this conversation will not work for a toddler or younger, it is important to communicate the dangers and boundaries around water early.
We have also signed our children up for swim lessons beginning at age 3 with a local YMCA, but I know there are many other options in our area such as the British Swim School, Goldfish Swim School, Aqua Tots, municipal swim lessons or even private lessons. I think it is very important to do research and select a swim school that best aligns to the age of your child and the goals you have for them to be successful around water. I love that there is a great range of variety to meet the needs of many different styles, budgets, ages, and outcomes so that truly there should be no excuse not to have your child participate in a lesson.
Even with these tips that I have offered and hopefully the awareness that this article will bring to parents, I know there is more to be shared. Please if you are reading this share any tips or tricks you recommend for safety around water! I value the time my family spends around water whether at the beach, pool, lake, water park, splash pad, or even a sprinkler in the back yard and no matter where water SAFETY is key!!
Also be sure to snag a swimsuit from Caden Lane that is sure to be the cutest one in the class! I honestly received so many questions and L received so many compliments on her adorable swimsuit!
L is wearing this cute Two Piece Strappy Tankini with Ruffle Bottom in the most dreamy Boho Floral print. I think they run true to size and she is 3 wearing a 3t and it really does seem to have room for her to grow throughout the summer!