Do parent/child lessons actually save our kids?
Swimming lessons are about making our kids safe in the water, right? Well yes and no. Depending on your child’s age and/or ability, the current system in Australia has a child whom is 6 months old to roughly 2-3 years old in “water familiarisation lessons” which some swim schools call “swimming lessons” but these lessons are not teaching your child to swim, they are teaching your child to be comfortable in the water all whilst you are holding on to them, singing songs and making it fun and games. This is good and bad all at once, but how so? Why would teaching your child to enjoy and be comfortable in the water a bad thing?
Well its more of a catch 22 situation than a bad thing. Your child loves the water but now doesn’t understand the real dangers of what the water is to them. Add in a floatation device and they think they are invincible. They will associate the water with it being fun and whilst it can be fun, if they don’t know how to swim (or better yet save themselves) it can be deadly.
Real Life example:
Take for instance Jake*, Jake had been having swimming lessons since he was a baby (starting with parent/child lessons) and he ended up having not one but TWO non-fatal drowning incidents and as a result ended up hating the water.
How could he have two you might ask? The first was when the family went to the pool. Number one rule in the family was that you don’t go into the water without your floaties on. Of-course Jake being a typical child loved the water and didn’t listen to mum, whom had turned around to get Jake’s floaties, in that split second Jake had jumped in the pool, (he associated fun with the water but didn’t know he couldn’t swim). When Mum turned around and looked into the water and there was Jake at the bottom of the pool, looking up at her with his arms reached out, She jumped in and saved him.
On the second occasion he was in a swimming lesson, yes you read that right, he was IN his swimming lessons. The teacher had launched him in the direction he was to go but did not make sure Jake actually made it there, before turning away. Jake didn’t make it to safety and mum saw it all happen, luckily someone else was holding on to her young baby at the time and mum jumped into the pool and saved her son during his swimming lesson. From that moment Jake had a fear of water and who could blame him.
Fast Forward to 2019, Jake is now 4.5 years old, the baby is now 2 and mum has one more on her hands an 8-month-old. Jake still scared of water, had mum looking for a different style of swimming lessons. Enter Swim survival lessons for all 3 children, the baby who was 8 months old was taught to float in 4 weeks in case of accidental fall into water. The now 2-year-old was taught to swim float swim in 6 weeks and what about Jake, who hated the water?? Well he was taught to swim float swim in 3 weeks, and he skipped 4 levels of the swim schools traditional learn to swim program.
The best part is that Jake now loves the water and loves his swimming lessons. There was such a rapid change in Jake’s attitude towards the water following his survival lessons because he knew he could save himself and it made him feel safer in the water.
Swimming lessons and even water familiarisations are a great tool, but those lessons should always be teaching a child to be able to save themselves first and foremost. If they can’t save themselves what hope do, they have if they make it into a body of water without you being aware of it.
*not his real name
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