Evie is 5 months of age and we are getting into a nice swimming routine. At this stage I am taking Evie to the pool twice per week and I am still continuing with her bath time swimming lessons.
I generally start each lesson with a warm up of kicking. This acclimatises her to the pool and gives me an opportunity to practice some word action association with her. Even at this very early age I am introducing Evie to the kicking activity.
Conditioning still remains the most important element of her learn to swim lesson. It’s important to be consistent with conditioning as this allows our submersions underwater to be free from fuss and trauma. I am now trying to increase Evie’s breath control so that she can easily master underwater work without ingesting any water. I extend Evie’s breath control by using a larger cup when I pour water over her face.
Submersions should only be attempted once you and your baby are totally comfortable. Because Evie has been conditioned to hold her breath since birth I am confident that she is ready to go underwater. If you are unsure if your child is ready ask yourself these questions.
Is my baby happy to have water poured on their face? Dose my baby close their eyes and hold their breath when I say “ready go”? Am I confident holding my baby in the water? Am I relaxed enough to attempt submersions?
First submersions should always be performed in a horizontal position. This allows the water to run in a head to toe direction and avoids water being pushed up the child’s nose. When submerging the baby we give them two triggers before they go underwater. The first is our verbal trigger ready go, followed by a kinesthetic lifting trigger. This slight lift gives the baby an opportunity to catch their breath. At this stage don’t worry if your child is not ready to go underwater. Remember the most important thing is that they are being introduced to the water in a loving and relaxed environment.
After I perform a couple of submersions with Evie the rest of the lesson is spent on maintaining her grasp reflex. I want to teach Evie to hold on to my shirt and fingers. This is a very basic lifesaving skill. As Evie grows I want her to learn to hold on to me rather than relying on me to pick her up and support her in the water. The simple skill is the beginning of Evie learning independence in the water.
When teaching children to swim always remember to 1. Give children an opportunity to feel buoyancy 2. Make them feel secure through physical contact and 3. Give them an opportunity to explore and love the water.