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  • 7 Crucial Things to Check Before Enrolling Your Child in a Swimming Class

    Plus, the ideal age to sign your child up for swimming lessons
    by Kate Borbon .
7 Crucial Things to Check Before Enrolling Your Child in a Swimming Class
PHOTO BY Pexels
  • No Pinoy summer vacation is complete without a swimming trip, right, moms? But aside from being fun, your trip should also be safe, and one way to ensure the safety of all members of your family, especially your kids, is by making sure everyone in the family can handle themselves in the water. Swimming lessons are a great way to provide children that knowledge.

    What age to enroll your child in swimming lessons

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children can start taking swimming lessons at the age of 1. However, they can learn or master the necessary water survival skills like "floating, treading water and getting to an exit point" when they reach 4 years old. Studies have also found that taking swim lessons can actually lessen the risk of drowning of kids between 1 and 4 years old. By age 5 or 6, most children in swim lessons can master the front crawl.

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    The AAP also notes that children develop at different paces; it is possible that some 1-year-olds may not be ready for formal swimming lessons. In this case, parents are advised to consider their children’s emotional maturity, physical and developmental abilities, and limitations as well as comfort levels in the water before enrolling them in classes.

    AAP doesn't see the benefits of swim classes catering to babies who are less than 1-year-old. At this age range, infants may be able to show reflex “swimming” movements but are still not able to lift their heads out of the water to breathe.

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    How your child can benefit from swimming lessons

    Just because your child took swimming lessons does not make him "drown-proof" — you cannot leave him unattended. You still need to be at arm's length when he's in or near a body of water. But formal swim instruction will be invaluable when it comes to his safety.

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    Swim lessons teach your child basic water safety habits

    He will know how to act or behave when he is in the pool or the beach (the kind of etiquette he can take the lead when he is with younger siblings and friends). He learns necessary water safety procedures such as floating, treading water, and going to the exit point of the pool.

    Swimming is a good workout

    Kids cannot get enough of swimming pools, which is good because it takes them outdoors, for one thing, and away from gadgets. Swimming can help reduce the risk of childhood obesity since it gets the heart pumping and helps build endurance, strength, and even flexibility, among others.

    A day at the pool or the beach is a fun family bonding activity

    This is especially true for children who are less than 1 year old. Even if they are not yet developmentally able to learn how to swim, taking your baby to a parent-child water play class can serve as an exciting bonding opportunity for you and your child as well as a way to help him get more comfortable in the water.

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    What to look for when selecting a swim class for your child

    The AAP suggests several factors including the qualifications of the instructors, the lessons that will be taught during the classes, and even the safety measures followed in the location itself. Here's a checklist.

    Instructors or trainers are experienced and qualified

    The AAP stresses that swim instructors “should be trained and certified through a nationally recognized learn-to-swim curriculum.” Similarly, lifeguards who are present to help assist the classes should also be certified and knowledgeable in CPR.

    The swimming lessons teach good water safety habits

    Aside from teaching children basic swimming techniques, a program should also teach them basic water safety habits and practices, such as never swimming alone or without an adult nearby, and always asking for permission before getting into any body of water.

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    The swimming classes teach self-rescue

    Self-rescue is a kind of water competency skill, which is crucial for kids to learn, so they know what to do if they ever find themselves falling into a pool unexpectedly. For older kids, it might also be helpful to take a program that teaches them what to do when they encounter anyone struggling in the water and how to help them.

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    Parents are allowed to watch classes

    This doesn’t mean that you will be there to supervise what’s going on during the course — this might make it difficult for your child to focus on his lessons (and distracting for the instructor). Try to ask if you can be allowed to watch a class for yourself so that you can see how the class goes and how the instructors handle the session.

    The swimming activities are age-appropriate

    While in the class, it is essential to make sure that your child feels safe and is able to participate well, and that the activities suit his social, emotional, and intellectual needs, not just the physical ones.

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    The student-teacher ratio is low

    In an article for Harvard Health Publishing, Claire McCarthy, M.D. says the ratio of kids to teachers should be as low as possible, especially for classes that cater to younger children and/or new swimmers. This will allow the instructors to stay within arm’s reach of the children.

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    “As children gain skills, the group can get a bit bigger,” McCarthy writes, “but there should never be more than the teacher can safely supervise.”

    The venue for the classes is safe

    Another thing parents need to ensure is the safety of the pool venue. Aside from being clean and well-maintained, it is also important that there are barriers to distinguish the deeper parts of the pool. It should also be appropriately equipped with first aid.

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