You can prepare your child to take swimming lessons if you think he or she is carious about it. Swimming is a skill many of us take for granted as adults but a child may be apprehensive, particularly if they have not had a lot of exposure to swimming or water in general. Before the actual swimming lessons begin, you can do a number of things to assure your child has positive experiences and gets the most out of the activity.
Start Talking About It – If your child is inexperienced or very young, she may be apprehensive about taking swimming lessons.
Explaining to her what to expect can go a long way toward calming those fears. Tell her what swimming is like and about the fun things you can do in the water once you know how to swim. Talk about the locker room and how things work there. Even talk about the scary parts. Listen to her feelings too. If she is afraid, be empathetic. Share with her what you like about swimming. Ask them questions about their fears and expectations. Then answer them in an age appropriate fashion. Make sure you let them know you understand their feelings. Never make fun of their feelings or belittle them for those feelings.
Swim Together – Take your child swimming at the pool where the lessons will take place. Don’t focus on teaching them anything. Make sure the outing is fun. Play games, splash each other, and throw a ball around if you can. The point of the trip is to make your child see the pool as a safe and fun place to be. If your child is fearful about getting in the water, don’t force it. Get in the water yourself and stay nearby. Demonstrate how you are unafraid and that nothing bad is happening. Show them that you are enjoying yourself. After the outing, talk about what happened, good or bad. Compliment the positive things that they may have done. Point out the good things they did and reinforce the experience with a healthy after-swim snack.
Visit a Swimming Class – Actually seeing a swimming class in action can help alleviate fears.
There is no teacher like a visual one. Seeing how the class runs and the kinds of things that he will be learning will help your child know what to expect. Fear of the unknown is one of the biggest roadblocks to successful learning. If time allows, introduce your child to the instructor. A familiar face can put a child at ease on the first day of class. Tour the facility and point how happy the other children are. Seeing others like himself can also allay fears.
Go Shopping Together – Your child will undoubtedly need some swimming gear. Shopping together for these items can help draw your child in and make him feel involved. Let him pick out the swim suit, towel, goggles and tote bag he will use.
After Class – Once your child has begun classes, encourage blossoming friendships with other swim class kids. Discuss what your child learned and what he likes about the class. Use positive reinforcement to encourage your child whenever possible.