You’ve welcomed a child(ren) into your home, stepping up to guide the lives entrusted into your care. Along with that admirable responsibility comes a world of unknowns for a child(ren) that you now call your’s – even if only temporarily. From food preferences and clothing choices to habits and mannerisms, you find yourself in a deep dive with those who have had to grow up more quickly than most.
With that in mind, it may come as a surprise to foster families that many children – even older children – have little to no swimming ability. In fact, 40 percent of Caucasian children, 45 percent of Hispanic/Latino children, and 64 percent of African-American children have no or low swimming ability, according to the USA Swimming Foundation.
It’s important to consider introducing the children in your care to the water, and most importantly, to year-round swim lessons as early as 4 months old, as “consistency in formal swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88%.” After all, water is everywhere, in every home and in many recreational activities, and equipping them for a lifetime of safety in and around the water is a gift they may not otherwise receive.
If you’re introducing children to the water (even if they’re apprehensive), here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Create Safe Boundaries: Teaching a child about what the water does and how our bodies work in water as well as to ask permission before entering the water are your first lines of defense.
- Establish Comfort: A child’s comfort in the water is foundational for all skills. Taking it slowly and remaining patient are important.
- Submerge & Float: Once in the water, encourage them to submerge and float on their back. Children that know how to submerge and hold their breath are much safer in and around the water. (And they have more FUN!)
- Turn Tears into Cheers: Crying is normal for new swimmers.
We all know that the soaring Arizona summer temperatures are on their way, and in a state heavily populated with backyard pools, it’s important for all families to keep water safety at the forefront of raising healthy, active children. Here are some tips to remember when you’re enjoying some fun in the sun:
- Supervise: An adult should be present and watching at all times when children are in or around the water. (Bathtubs included!)
- Designate a Water Watcher: A designated “Water Watcher” is a great way to ensure that everyone has fun and stays safe.
- Buddy Up: The more eyes the merrier! Even strong swimmers should swim with a friend.
- Stick to Swimming: Prohibit rough play in and around the water.
- Clean Up: Pool toys are enticing! Avoid unnecessary distraction by keeping them put away when not in use.
- Install Barriers: Install pool fences and self-latching gates around backyard pools.
At Aqua-Tots Swim Schools, we teach over 5 million swim lessons annually worldwide, and we are passionate about equipping all children with everything they need to know to remain safe in and around the water for a lifetime. After all, it’s about so much more than swim lessons. It’s about propelling lives, one swim lesson at a time.
We would love to be a part of your family’s journey.