Because of the alarming rate at which children in Australia are drowning each year, water safety is an important skill for children to learn.
Introducing your child to the water and building their confidence when they are young is going to help your child develop a love for swimming. Making sure they understand the potential dangers of different aquatic environments ensures they develop a respect for water and safe water practices.
Getting started is fun and easy. You can start your child at a swim school as early as you (and they) are ready to give it a go!
Stages of swim school
When it comes to swimming, everyone has to start somewhere.
Royal Life Saving’s Swim and Survive Program offers a progressive curriculum framework for children that reflect their motor development at three key life-stages:
Wonder – designed for infants as young as 6 months right up to 3 years, this part of the program is split into 3 age groups, and gently introduces swimmers to the water, together with a parent or carer.
Courage – teaches 3-5 year olds with various levels of confidence, this phase further develops basic water skills and begins to teach foundation swimming skills, such as floating, kicking, breathing and progressing to basic freestyle and backstroke.
Active – this multi-level phase develops the swimming skills of school-age children, from 5-14 year olds, teaching skills including floating, treading water, survival and swimming strokes as well as basic rescue skills.
And, because not everyone is lucky enough to start swimming at an early age, private or group lessons are available for adults, with levels catering for everyone from beginners to those who just want to brush up on their swimming skills. Check with your local swim school to see what programs they offer.
Finding the right swim school for you
To get the most out of them, swimming lessons should be consistent as well as a regular occurence.
The fact that your child will be spending their time with the same teacher and group of children in the same pool each week means that choosing the right school is important.
Here are a few things to look for, when you’re choosing a swim school:
Location – Long drives to the pool week after week are going to wear pretty thin after a while, so look for pools that are close to your home or your child’s school to make it a little easier.. Parking is also a consideration as walking for blocks with a wet and tired child can be very taxing.
Class size – Working out whether your child responds best to group learning or individual classes does not take long once they’re in a swimming class. Try to find an adaptable swim school and, if you have more than one child, a swim school that can
help you to work around different class times.
Teacher – all swimming and water safety teachers must hold a recognised qualification such as an AUSTSWIM qualification and a valid CPR certificate. Qualities of a good swimming teacher should include: the ability to encourage participation, motivate to achieve skills, use child-focused teaching strategies and flexibility to adapt and progress individual’s skills.
Program – look for a quality, well-rounded program that teaches a range of skills in a progressive structure. Learning to swim is more than learning competitive strokes, so choose a swim school that develops skills in swimming, water safety, survival and
basic rescue skills.
Once you have found the right teacher, program, and pool – stick with it. The most effective swimming programs are structured and progressive; so turning up every week is beneficial.