Katie says:
Once a baby has
had his first immunisations he can
start lessons. If you have your own
pool, I’d feel happy putting him in
from six weeks. For public pools, I’d
recommend three months.
Sharon says:
Infant Aquatics
recommends beginning formal lessons
in a class situation from six months
old. We teach “formal” strokes when
children are developmentally able to
complete the gross motor movements
around four to five years.
Karen says:
Actual stroke work is
introduced around four to five years
when children have the necessary
confidence and balance on the front
and back. We work on front crawl
and backstroke at the same time.
Breaststroke is next, and finally,
Children enjoy water more when they
learn at their own pace, experience
success, practise repeatedly and receive
praise for their efforts.
What do you think about
buoyancy aids?
Andrew says:
Use what works to
create confidence in water. If children
are unhappy without armbands, use
them and slowly wean them off by
progressing to a noodle under their
arms, then to a kickboard held out
front. Find the child’s threshold of
success and aim to expand that each
time they enter the water.
Katie says:
Armbands have
their place, as they can give children
independence and keep them upright
in water. They do restrict arm
movement however, and for lessons
they are a no-no. Children must
recognise that swimming unassisted is
their goal.
Sharon says:
Attached aids can
hinder the natural development
of aquatic skills and give parents
a false sense of security. Around
water, parents should always
have the “Layers of Protection”
recommended by Swim Australia
) in place.
Layers of Protection” is a system of
checks which may save a child’s life
they include supervision, barriers,
swimming and water safety skills and
an emergency action plan.)
Karen says:
If you’re looking
after more than one child, floatation
devices are essential. I prefer
buoyancy suits over armbands
as the latter can restrict arm
movement. However, any buoyancy
aid should not take the place of
adult supervision. In our swimming
programme, we work on buoyancy so
children learn to float unassisted on
their fronts and backs. These skills
can save a child’s life.
What should parents do when their
children are nervous around water?
Andrew says:
Create a “play state” for
the child. Help them fish for floating
toys from the top step with a foam
roll. Eliciting playfulness changes a
child’s fearful experience to one of
exploration and growth.
Katie says:
Never force a child to
do something in water. Children enjoy
Summer 2013