Before You Sign Your Kid up for Swim Lessons

If you just signed up your child for swim lessons or are still shopping around, there are probably a million questions running through your mind. Linda DeSanders, director of the Texas Drowning Prevention Alliance, has a few helpful tips for parents interested in swim lessons.

It Starts with Bath Time
Many parents shield their child’s face from water during bath time. But a big part of swimming lessons is getting a child comfortable with water. DeSanders suggests pouring clear, not soapy, water over your child’s face in the bath. They will slowly get used to water getting into their ears and face, which will help during swim lessons.

Learn to Float
Learning to trust the water may be difficult for both the child and the parent, but the ability to lie on his or her back and float is instrumental for young swimmers. It may be scary, but DeSanders suggests putting your baby on his or her back at bath time. This position will help the baby get used to water being around their face. Many children don’t get used to being in this position and have trouble trusting the water. Practicing this at home will help your child stay calm and trust the water.

Start Them Young
Children can begin taking swim lessons as young as 3 months old. DeSanders suggests starting children early because it helps them skip the fear stage many children experience with water. She says that between the ages of 2 to 4, many children, if they haven’t taken swim lessons regularly, experience fear of the water. Beginning lessons at a young age will help your child skip this stage because they will understand water safety and associate being in the water as a fun experience.

Children most likely won’t be able to take solo lessons until they are 5 years old. Classes for kids younger than this require parents to join in, which gives your child the opportunity to be in the water with someone they trust.

Pros and Cons of Team and Individual Sports for Kids

Participating in organized sports has been shown to improve health, fitness and academic performance in kids while also relieving stress and teaching important lessons like good sportsmanship, teamwork and perseverance. While sports in general are clearly great for kids, does it matter if your child plays a team or an individual sport? After all, we all know kids who are naturally drawn to individual sports like tennis, swimming or golf while others zero in on team sports like soccer, softball or basketball.

Learn the benefits and challenges of both types to help you and your kid better understand what it’s like to participate in each.

The Benefits of Team Sports
Kids who play team sports show increased cooperation and teamwork and foster a sense of community. There’s also a sense of shared responsibility for the outcome, which means that having a bad day isn’t the end of the world. Teammates learn to support each other through good games and bad, something that might be most important during a losing streak.

Research shows that athletes have improved performance in a group, so playing team sports can encourage a child to give his or her best effort for their teammates.

The Benefits of Individual Sports
Individual sports foster mental strength, and kids who play show increased resilience. Kids learn to motivate themselves by working through challenging training sessions or dips in performance and results. After all, there’s nobody else to hide behind on a bad day, so athletes learn to deal with poor results.

On the flip side, when an athlete wins in an individual sport, they have a strong sense of accomplishment. Beyond bragging rights, participating in individual sports can increase a sense of personal mastery. Athletes improve and develop new skills, leading to improved performance and confidence.

Individual sports also allow for independence and can be a great fit for a kid who doesn’t like to rely on someone else’s skills to perform well.

Some individual sports allow flexibility with training times and regimens. Athletes can focus on their own training needs, whether that means addressing a personal weakness or improving a favorite shot–something that can be difficult during team training.