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Preparing your little ones for swimming lessons

on 15th December 2014

A child's first swimming lesson can be an exciting experience for youngsters and parent’s alike. There are a number steps that can be taken beforehand to ensure your child feels confident and at ease before the lessons begin!

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Start with a bath

The simple task of having a bath can begin to support your child in their first steps in taking swimming lessons.

Try using fun swim toys that your child will use during their swimming lesson, this will help them become familiar with the toys and build their confidence when starting to attend lessons eg: super soakers or seal flips.

Getting familiar with the pool environment It is important to take your child to the swimming pool where you are planning to have the lessons for some quality time together, but also so your child can get familiar with the size, depth, and temperature of the pool.

Keep in mind that a lot takes place throughout a swimming lesson, not just the fact that your child is going to have to follow instructions and participate. Increased noise levels in the surrounding environment are very different, which can sometimes be overwhelming and also the number of children in the class can also be a factor to your child’s levels of comfort.

Finally, ensure you discuss basic water safety before their first swimming lesson and also talk to your children about the rules of the pool.

Dress rehearsal Getting your child into their swimming costume at home can be a factor on how comfortable they feel when the day comes to swim  – why not even make getting dressed for their swim lessons into a fun game!  The majority of time, children’s confidence within water is effected by their body, mind and environment outside of the pool!

Begin the Conversation Talking with your child about swimming prior to their lesson is very important. Talk them through the process of what will happen in the lesson and also how great it will be, helping your little one to build trust and feel prepared. As you can see your child building confidence in conversation, start talking about kicking their leg and simple exercises that will no doubt be in your child’s swimming lesson.

What to pack for your swimming lessons We’re often asked by many parents “What should I pack in my child’s swimming bag?”.  We would recommend including the following items to be sure they have everything they need:

- Swimming Costume - Towel - Swim hatChildren’s Swim goggles - Extra carrier bag to place wet swimwear - Drink and a snack for afterwards - Include a small coin purse, with some change in it for emergencies - We would also recommend marking or labelling clothing with your child's name to avoid losing any items.

Day of the Lesson When the day of the lesson arrives, make sure you get there early with lots of time to prepare and get ready for the lesson - remember for your little one, this is a very big deal! Your child will have time to possibly watch the lesson before, get an idea of what is going on and see what toys will be played with in the lesson.

From the parent’s point of view – if your child gets upset, don’t panic! Give them time to get familiar with the environment and don’t remove them from the situation. It is important to let them stay and watch the lesson at the very least. Once your child finishes always give them lots of praise and encouragement!

Repeat each step Continue to follow all of the above steps to get your little one in to a strong routine ahead of each swim lesson.

Bath time is always a beautiful time to practice in the beginning stages of learning to swim (bubbles, kicking legs, laying on front, water over the head and even face in the water), and continuing to play dress rehearsal and games will help to show your child that swimming is fun. Finally, it’s important to always have the conversation with your child about swimming before & after every lesson, making the conversation as positive as possible!