High quality swimming lessons will teach your child what to do in the event of an aquatic emergency. This is called self-rescue.
Most toddlers drown during a non-swim time (69%) in their own pool/spa (58%) while in the care of one or both parents (70%).
Self-rescue programs emphasize a respect for the water, where as water acclimation classes may give your child false confidence without water competency. Children should learn how to survive in an aquatic environment before learning this environment is safe and inviting. Self-rescue lessons are taught by instructors who receive hands on training and an academic education. They are CPR and First Aid certified.
Self-rescue swim lessons should teach your child how to rescue themselves if they should find themselves in a body of water alone. A combination of skills can accomplish this feat:
Your child should learn how to independently roll back to a float to breathe. This is important if they are unable to exit the body of water they fell into, or they lack the physical ability to pull themselves up at a wall or edge.
After floating, children who are physically capable are taught how to turn back to a swimming position (face in the water) and swim towards an exit, then roll onto their backs to breathe as needed. They will repeat this sequence of skills until they find an exit.
If you cannot access self-rescue lessons like described above, your child can still learn a few other valuable skills that may save their life. Some other basic water competency skills include teaching your child how to turn around in the water and reach for the wall if they should accidentally fall in.
Children should be taught proper breath control. This means teaching children to hold their breath when the water rises on their body and not to exhale underwater. Please do NOT teach your child to blow bubbles underwater. Blowing bubbles underwater removes all the air from your child’s lungs, making them less buoyant and desperate for air.
Children should also be taught how to open their eyes underwater while swimming. This will help them if they were to fall into the pool by assisting their orientation, to look for an exist, and feel comfortable underwater. If the chemicals of the pool are in balance (pH) their eyes will not sting or burn.
Your child should learn and practice all these skills fully clothed . In addition, they should practice how to respond if they were to fall in a pool. This involves a safe method of simulating falling into the pool and performing these skills.
These lessons do not use flotation devices to teach the child how to swim; they can confuse your child. Flotation devices create either a vertical or head up posture when swimming, and these postures cannot be maintained without the use of the flotation device. Flotation devices also do not provide your child with the opportunity to practice and maintain their own buoyancy.
High quality lessons are private with a 1:1 student to instructor ratio, and customized to the child’s needs. Progress happens in weeks, not months. Lessons may begin as early as 6 months of age.
Verify your instructor's credentials, training, and certifications such as CPR and First Aid. Not every program is right for every child. Ensure you thoroughly research the program and meet your potential instructor. Ask about the aquatic environment: pool temperature, chemical balance, distractions, schedule, length of lessons (time in the water and quantity of lessons), etc. Remember that as your child matures and changes physically and developmentally, your child may need more lessons.
For more info from the AAP visit their policy by clicking here.
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