Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What Age Should A Child Learn To Swim?



There is research around that says the best age to start children swimming is at around age 5.

I have reason to question this research because I have students that are 3 and 4 years old that are swimming.

Their swimming style may not be the most efficient but they are quite able to negotiate up to about 15 meters without touching the bottom of the pool.

I know of other schools where they manage to get their children to swim similar distances at about 2 to 2 and a half. Of course most of their students attend lessons twice a week and mine tend to only attend once.

I think that far too much is made of the children just learning to have fun in the water. I actually purchased a video once that was supposed to give ideas on how to get children to enjoy the aquatic environment. I ended up getting my money back.

This video spent the entire time showing me how to use all sorts of equipment to get the children to essentially just splash around.

Now I'm the first to insist the children have fun in the water but there is a world more we can do to help them be safe in the water even as toddlers. We must absolutely have a fence around the pool and watch our children with eagle eyes near water, but why can't we also have children that know how to make some sort of progress to something that floats should they fall in?

Why can't we have children that know to turn around in the water and grab the edge?

Why can't we have children the know how to do a safe entry into water even when we are watching them?

What's wrong with having a child know how to float and if they can float they can make some sort of show at swimming? If they can make such a show shouldn't we be helping them know how to use this skill they best way they can? Especially if we can do it and have the children enjoy it.

Do I have children sometimes get agitated? Yes! But with a little patients and a lot of persistence soon you have children ducking under water and paddling or swimming up to you with a big smile on their face.

We teach a child the correct way to cross the road regardless of how they want to do it or not as the case may be. Why wouldn't we want our children to learn water safety.

My strogest argument for this is one little girl who was one of my students. She had come up through my classes as a toddler. One day in one of my classes she fell of they may in water that was too deep for her to stand up.

She had managed to get herself in a place that meant I had to take a bit of time to walk around and get her. As I as walking around I saw her look up at me and with a look of disgust she turned herself around and lifted herself up onto the mat exactly as she had been taught. Without my assistance.

How about we make the effort to make all our children not only respectful of the water but as safe as possible.

Enjoy
Richard

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