Get Active: Swim
By: Leigh Felesky
One, two, three, jump! There’s nothing like the cool sensation of water on a hot summer’s day. And there are many benefits for your family. Swimming and water safety are important survival skills everyone should know. Plus, learning to move in water offers a low-resistance physical activity, perfect for building muscle and staying fit. If you can take the kids to the beach, playing in the sand encourages fine motor development, imaginative play and creativity. And on top of all the benefits, playing in the water is tons of fun!
Choose the right venue. There are many different types of pools suitable for different age levels. If you have a younger child, try a wading pool. For an older child, but a beginner swimmer, choose a shallow pool to avoid the worry of the child jumping in the deep end. If you’re going to a lake or to the beach, find the best place for families to swim—preferably with a life guard—and be sure to take all the necessary safety equipment such as life jackets. Remember, sand is great for kids and will keep them having fun and learning for hours.
Make it fun. Wherever you go, bring the appropriate floats, water wings, balls and equipment. To help beginner swimmers feel more secure, bring rafts and floats. For older kids who want to play games in the water, you can buy basketball nets and other equipment at most sports stores. And don’t forget to bring buckets, shovels and sand toys too--not only will kids love to play with them, these activities help to develop fine motor and measuring skills.
- Constant supervision. You always need to keep a close eye on your children in any water, even shallow wading pools. According to the Red Cross, drowning is the second cause of accidental death among children, especially those under the age of five. Despite obvious precautions such as wearing a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD), taking water safety lessons and staying in shallow water, the best protection is an attentive parent.
- PFDs and life jackets. Flotation devices such as a proper lifejacket or personal floatation device (PFD) are essential. (Remember, a PFD is less bulky, but unlike a life jacket it will not necessarily roll a person into position where the head is out of the water.) Make sure the floatation device fits your child. All buckles and snaps should work and it should be comfortable. The Red Cross encourages attaching a whistle to the front of the PFD or lifejacket. Brightly colored floatation devices are better for visibility. For more advice, check out swimming programs and water safety programs in your area.
- Set the stage. Clearly outline all the rules and guidelines to children before they go swimming. Explain where they can dive and where they can swim. Also, go over the rules of the pool—for example, no running on the deck, no pushing and only one person on the diving board at a time.
- Remember. Finally, teach all children that they must stop and wait for permission to go into the water and know where it is safe to enter.
Learn how to make your backyard a fun zone with great water games and more.