Now is the time of year that kids of all ages are hitting the beach and the pool. While there’s plenty of fun to be had, that fun can turn dangerous if children don’t know how to swim and the proper precautions aren’t taken.
While all children are advised to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket if they don’t know how to swim, swim lessons are vital to turn those non-swimmers into little fish! Besides learning a vital skill, statistics show that swim lessons can reduce a child’s risk of drowning by 88 percent. That’s key because drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional-injury related death in kids ages 5-19.
When should your child start swim lessons?
For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that parents wait to age four to begin lessons for their children. This was based on the belief that children can truly begin to grasp swimming concepts and follow directions at this age.
But, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now advising that kids should start lessons at age 1 to prevent drowning accidents. This is also beneficial so that they don’t become afraid of the water.
What should you look for in swim lessons?
All swim lessons are not created equal. From cost to quality, there are many to choose from. When looking around for your child, keep these points in mind:
- What is the instructor to child ratio?
The standard is 6:1. If the lessons you’re coming across have a greater ratio, move on. If there are too many kids and not enough instructors, not only are kids not learning well, it also presents a risk of danger because there are not enough eyes on the kids in the water.
- Are instructors certified?
Your child’s swim instructor should be CPR or First Aid certified. It’s preferred that they have both, but at the very least, they should carry at least one of those certifications. You can also check with your local American Red Cross to find certified instructors.
- What other activities are going on in the pool?
Does the pool the lessons are being held offer other activities at the same time? If so, you’ll want to look for a program that devotes the entire pool to lessons. This decreases the chance of other accidents and problems.
- Is there a shallow and a deep end in the pool?
Some parents don’t like their children to learn how to swim in pools that have a deep end. Visit the facility where the swimming lessons will be taking place. Look at the pool and the depth to see if it’s something you’re comfortable with. Also, ask about the water temperature. Ideally, it should be between 77 and 82 degrees.
Remember, when it comes to swimming lessons and anything else involving your child, trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, find something that does. You’ll feel more comfortable and so will your child.