It’s that time of the year when pool days become a necessity to cool off from this hot weather (but we’re not complaining, we love the sunshine!). And in order to make sure your pool days are full of safe family fun, we know how important it is to give your kids swim lessons so they feel confident in the water. We asked one of our most avid pool users, Bay Club member Mei Ling Starkey of Family Entourage to share her experience with getting her little one ready for a lifetime of aquatic fun and advice so you can do the same!
Summer is here. Whether you have a child that is just getting adjusted to the water or is looking to make the swim team, it is a great time to consider taking swim lessons. The Bay Club has a lot of options for your children ranging from parent tot classes, that help your child get comfortable with the water, and swim classes that teach water safety and swim strokes, to more advanced classes that will help refine your swimmer’s technique for swim team and water polo. There are even classes for adults.
My son, Joshua who is three years old, has been in the pool even before he was born. I enjoyed going to the water aerobics classes at the Bay Club when I was pregnant. After I had him, he would nap in his stroller by the pool while I took the water aerobics classes. When he was old enough, I would bring him in the pool and use him as my “weight” for the class. Even though he loved being in the water, it was finally time for us to start swimming lessons. I talked to a lot of parents about what their experiences was like. One of the reasons I chose the semi-private classes at the Bay Club versus group classes was because I wanted Joshua to have a good initial experience.
While some children love the water, for others it can be overwhelming. Here are some tips from our personal experience to help make your swim lessons a success.
1. Get comfortable. If you can, try and take your child to the pool a couple of times before their lessons. This will help them get acclimated to the water and being in the pool. Many of the swim instructors can be found around the pool. If they aren’t busy, introduce yourself and your child to them, that way they will become familiar with your child. The water introductory class for babies and toddlers is a great way for your child to get acclimated to the water and an instructor prior to lessons. On the day of your lessons, try and arrive 10-15 minutes early and get in the water with your child so that they can adjust prior to their lesson. After your lesson is done, it can be great to hop in the water too and practice what they learned.
2. Know their limits. When deciding whether to do a group lesson or private lesson, try to think about what atmosphere your child will do best in. Some children prefer a group setting and others might need more attention when they are first starting out. For some, a group lesson might be intimidating and for others a group lesson will encourage them to do things they wouldn’t necessarily try on their own. You know your child’s ability. It is okay to switch too. You can start out in private lessons and move to group and vice versa.
3. Get geared up. Even though a swim lesson is only 30-minutes, it is still important to make sure that you have put on sunscreen before you get in the pool. There are also some great swimsuits out there with the SPF built in so that you only have to apply sunscreen to your child’s exposed areas. It is also important to get a pair of goggles that fit your child’s head, that way water does not get in and they are more inclined to focus. It also makes it easier for your child to put their head under water so that they can see.
4. Practice outside of class. Whether you are taking classes once a week or multiple times a week, it will be good for you and your child to practice between sessions. This will help them retain what they are learning and get more confidant in the water. During the lessons, take note of the cues and style of the teacher. Try to use similar techniques.
5. Have fun. As much as you want your child to learn how to swim, it is important to balance lessons with fun time in the pool. This will help ease any anxiety or fear your child might be having. When we go to the pool we try and practice what we are learning in lessons for fifteen minutes then play in the water. Having fun can also incorporate practicing what they are learning. For example, you can toss out different toys and they have to retrieve them and bring them back to a certain spot or racing mom or dad in one of the swim lanes.
6. Bring your cheer squad. This is totally optional, but is really fun to do. For some of the lessons, we invited different people to watch and cheer on our little guy. Everyone from his grandfather, to the ladies in the water aerobics class we have gotten to know over the years. It can build confidence in your child as they “show off” for friends and relatives their new found skills. He enjoyed telling everyone to watch him as he went under water.
For more information on signing your little ones up for swim lessons (or yourself for adult lessons!) click here.
Swimsuit: Snapper Rock
Photographer: Kiana Huey