Summer is still many months away, but now is the time to start looking ahead to swim season. If your children are going off to summer camp, or you’re planning a family trip to the beach this year, you have time to build or refresh fundamental swimming skills.
Don’t make the mistake of waiting until two weeks before you pack up for camp or vacation to think about it. Give your kids plenty of space to learn at their own pace. Here are a few tips for preparing for summer swimming right now:
Adopt a year-round swimming mentality.
Many parents only think about swimming once the weather starts to warm up. But for children to become safe, confident swimmers, they need to practice their skills all 12 months of the year. Shift your mindset, and treat swimming like any other activity – playing the piano or soccer, or taking martial arts or ballet classes. Sign your kids up for ongoing weekly lessons, and marvel at their progress. They’ll build trust with their instructors, make friends with other students, and look forward to moving forward in their lessons.
Set goals and expectations.
Figure out what your kids are excited about this summer and how swimming skills fit into those plans. Do they want to swim from one end of the pool to the other by themselves? Do they want to jump off the diving board? Do they want to be in the highest-level swim group at camp so they can go kayaking with their friends? Talk with them to define their goals, and work backwards to set some smaller milestones to aim for. Celebrate important victories, like when they nail their freestyle stroke or graduate to the next swim class level.
Make water safety an ongoing conversation.
Talk about water safety practices with your kids from a young age. Make sure they know the rules and why they’re important (for example: we walk around the pool instead of running because it’s slippery and we could trip and fall). Discuss different summer swimming scenarios, and walk through how they should react if they encounter a safety issue. For instance, if they get into a boat and there aren’t enough life vests, what can they do? If they see someone in danger in the water, how can they call for help? Give them the tools they need to be safe, whether you’re there or not.
Looking forward to summer swimming already? Sign your children up for ongoing swim lessons.