How long should my child be in swimming lessons?
This question is a fairly common question among parents. It is also fairly misunderstood in the general public. Some adults think they can swim; but in reality could not perform the necessary standards of safe swimming if necessary.
Many of us grew up in areas where we took lessons every summer for a few months as kids. Many of us would qualify ourselves as “ok” swimmers, but maybe not good or great swimmers. We didn’t really have a standard set as to what we needed to learn. We just knew how to keep our heads above water!
In 2007, the Red Cross came out with some minimum swim safety standards that every child and adult should be able to perform. Along with these standards, we also believe not only should all children be able to perform these minimum standards, but they should be able to perform them by the time they enter the kindergarten or first grade. Learning the minimum standards can be very individual to each child and acquisition of the skills depends on frequency of lessons, age of the child, age at which the child begins lessons, how much weekly practice is done and of course, regular lesson attendance.
Swimming is an unforgiving activity. Taking time off from learning to swim often results in loss of confidence and skill. While we all need a little time off now and then from activities, we have found that more than 3-4 weeks of time away from the pool will affect a child’s skill and confidence level. And, the younger the child, of course, the greater that time away affects them. So, taking lessons every summer or dropping in and out of lessons is not the best way to learn to become a strong and confident swimmer.
Most children swim with us season round for 2-5 years, depending on the age they began lessons. Some of our students stay even longer as they enjoy their weekly lessons so much, and some of our skilled swimmers move on to swim teams. Other children may get to the Swim Safety Standard and decide that they are “done” with lessons and want to pursue other activities. The beauty of our program is that most children, if started as babies or toddlers are “done” with formal lessons by age 6-7 years old!
SWIMBABES SWIMMING RECOMMENDATIONS
Our recommendation is that all children be in continuous weekly year round swimming lessons until they have mastered these 5 basic swimming/survival skills that every child and adult should know how to do.
1. Float Fully Clothed for 5 minutes unassisted or swim 40 feet full clothed unassisted on the back.
2. Jump in deep water and rise to the surface and float or swim.
3. Jump in and swim back to a wall and get out unassisted.
4. Exit a pool without assistance.(climb out)
5. Swim 25 yards 2-3 strokes. (2 lengths of the SWIMBABES pool without stopping)
At SWIMBABES, we have children as young as 4 years old be able to perform all 5 basic life saving skills, and children as young as 18 months be able to perform the first 4 of the 5.
With this being said, we want all children who have entered to the SWIMBABES program to at minimum have mastered their basic water survival. Children must pass a 5 minute clothing float or swim 40 feet fully clothed in order to have completed basic water survival program. Children who have not yet completed this have have not completed the SWIMBABES water survival program and need to be in lessons*** please note: even if your child has passed their 5 minute float test, they must continually practice their skills in order not to lose them and be able to use them in an emergency situation.
Parents should not assume because their child took beginning survival lessons that they will remember what to do in an emergency unless they are practicing their skill on a regular basis. Little bodies grow quickly and skills learned can be lost if not practiced as they are growing. The point of balance in a child changes as they grow, and they must learn to accommodate for this growth.
If your child takes SynchroBabies or Basic Water Awareness but does not continue in to Survival, your child should be watched and treated as a non swimmer. SynchroBabies and Basic Water Awareness are courses that only prepare a child to go in to Survival. These courses do not teach any life saving skills. It is very important that you take the next step as soon as possible and teach them to swim. In the meantime, your child should wear a life jacket at all times around any body of water.
Safety reminders: Lock gates, fence pools, no chairs near pool fences, toys put away around pools. Use a hard cover and or pool alarm if you have a pool or hot tub. And, most of all, make sure someone is watching your child at every moment around the water. Accidents happen quickly and silently.
Be aware of water features or water situations when visiting friends houses; or any that your neighbors have. These can be very dangerous for your child.
All children should wear life jackets when on open water regardless of their swimming
Lastly, know CPR. All parents should know CPR.