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What effects have the COVID pandemic had on our children’s swimming? (8mths - 2.5yrs)



 


What challenges will this pose for each age group and how we can address these respectively? A reflection blog by Antony Edwards


The last 18 months has seen swim schools, like ours, closed for 220+ days! Children have missed weekly swimming lessons and school programs have had to be cancelled (for some these are their only exposure to water safety and swimming). The number of children 3+ who have not experienced a pool has significantly increased…these are some of the challenges we face moving forward.


Age Group #1: 8 months -2.5 years

Many of these children have had limited, or no, introduction to water outside of the home. Water safe play, familiarisation and opportunities to teach these skills have been limited. Water is an unfamiliar environment and new things can mean children feel uncomfortable and protest. We all know that feeling! As parents and teachers, we play a significant role in teaching them how to be safe and have fun in the water.

What are some common new skills important for this age group?

  • Water running over the face

  • Floating (assisted)

  • Face under water (assisted)

  • Blowing bubbles, push air out when mouth in water

  • Moving through water, assisted kicking and paddling

How can we, as a swim school help you teach these at home?

While the pool doors have had to be closed, we have been working to create some videos to share with you to give you some tips to help you make your child more water familiar. These are now available to Swimsafe families on our private Swimsafe Murrumbeena Members Only Facebook page, please request to join if you are not yet a member. [https://www.facebook.com/groups/swimsafemurrumbeenamembers]

Simple, at home shallow water bath play, such as blowing bubbles or laying on their back, will help them be ready for swimming lessons when it is safe to return. There are things that can help children be more comfortable as they learn these skills. For example, when pouring water over the head, it’s important to give the child a cue of when you are about to pour. Singing a song or counting 1,2,3 are also effective ways of cueing your child.

Remember these activities must always be supervised.



How can parent’s best prepare their child at home for swimming lessons?

We appreciate it is different for a parent vs a teacher to give instructions. While we don’t want a child to feel scared or uncomfortable, we also need to teach them how to cope with new situations. Being comfortable and calm yourself is especially important! The child will sense if you are hesitant. What will a toddler do if they don’t like something? Scenario: water in the eyes…. your toddler cries because they don’t appreciate having the water on their face…. is rushing to get a towel the best first step? Getting wet and having water on the face should be seen as normal. We can teach them coping mechanisms such as blink blink blink to move the water. The first thing we say to parents is - if you are feeling scared and worried about the learn to swim process then so will your child.

 


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