The Red Cross swimming lesson program is designed so that students can start with no previous swimming experience. Your child can be totally “green” when it comes to pools, water, and swimming. But just because your child can start from scratch doesn’t necessarily mean that there is nothing you can do to prepare them. The list below outlines some suggestions that will help your child feel more comfortable in swimming lessons.
1. Take your child swimming.
This one may seem obvious, but some families do not swim for various reasons. The depth and temperature of the pool water, and the change in balance and buoyancy can all cause hesitation and anxiety at first. Let your child experience the water wherever is most convenient and comfortable for you, from a lake to a wading pool.
2. Swim without floatation devices.
Life jackets and suits with built-in floaties are great for initial introduction to the water, but are usually not allowed in a formal swim lesson. If your child is used to swimming with floatation, it may be best to have a few sessions without any of these devices to prepare them.
3. Read up!
Red Cross has published two books; Raffy Learns To Swim and Waddles In The Deep . Both are illustrated children’s books about a brother and sister duck and their activities at swimming lessons. If your child is taking a Red Cross lesson, the activities in the book will prepare children for what they will experience. The books also offer safety information and skills checklists for the associated levels .
4. Visit the pool.
Being familier with the pool facility can reduce much of the anxiety associated with the first day of swimming lessons. Before the first day, visit the pool and show children the location of lockers , the bathroom, and the parent’s area. Let them explore the pool so they can figure out their boundaries for depth and get used to the temperature of the water. Show them where they will meet their teacher and where they will have class.
5. Go over pool rules and safety.
The two most important rules for small children are No Running, and Wait for Permission Before Entering the Water. You can also read the posted rules with your child, and point out traffic cones, ropes, and lane lines that mark areas as deep water or off-limits.
6. Watch a swimming lesson.
Observe a lesson at your child’s level. Point out to your child the rules of the class, the skills being practiced, and the games played. You may also be able to gage if your child is in the right level, based on their personal skills and what the teacher is working on with the class.
7. Practice listening to the teacher and taking turns.
Children must be able to listen to the instructor, stay put when told, and take turns. If your child has not had much experience with formal instruction, practice with them. Hold a “pretend” lesson. Have your child sit on the side or hold the wall until you allow them to move, or count to three before jumping in. Play “Simon Says”. Come swimming with friends and practice waiting their turn. Talk to your child about following instructions such as staying with the teacher.
8. Take a Parent/Child Class.
If you would like to work on some actual swimming skills with your child, you can sign up for a Parent/Child class. The goal of a Parent/Child class is to acclimate young children to the water, and to teach parents some skills they can work on with their child. Children up to age 5, with their adult partner, can participate in Parent/Child lessons. This may be a good option if your child is under 3 years of age, or you feel they are otherwise not quite ready for independent lessons.