Making Waves: A Guide to Swimming Lessons for Kids and Parents

With the warm weather in the Augusta area, many families are eager to hit the pool. Ensuring children’s safety in and around water is a top priority for parents, and swimming lessons are crucial for water safety. It’s important to note, however, that swim lessons alone cannot prevent drowning. Pediatric Partners of Augusta, aligning with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), offers guidance on swimming lessons for children.

When Should My Child Start Learning to Swim?

Children reach readiness for swimming lessons at varying ages due to differences in physical and developmental growth, emotional maturity, and water comfort levels. According to the AAP, many children can begin swim lessons at around age 1.

For children aged 1 to 4, this period is ideal for learning water safety and basic swimming skills. By the age of 4, most children are ready for formal swim lessons and can learn essential skills like floating, treading water, and reaching an exit point. Typically, 5- to 6-year-olds in swim lessons can master the front crawl. If your child is between 4 and 6 years old and hasn’t started swim lessons yet, now is an excellent time to begin.

Are Infant Swim Classes Beneficial?

The AAP states that there is no evidence suggesting infant swim programs for babies under 1 year old reduce the risk of drowning. However, enrolling infants in parent-child swim classes can be a valuable bonding experience and help them become comfortable in the water.

Swim Lessons Don’t Make Children “Drown-Proof”

While swimming lessons are an important safety measure, they do not eliminate the risk of drowning. Constant and attentive supervision is essential whenever children are in the water. Ensure that children cannot access water unsupervised, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 69 percent of drowning incidents involving children under 5 occurred when they were not expected to be in the water.

Choosing the Right Swim Lessons

For all age groups, seek out programs that:

  • Have qualified, certified instructors trained through a nationally recognized curriculum.
  • Ensure lifeguards are on duty with current CPR and First Aid certifications.
  • Promote good safety habits around water, including teaching children to ask for permission before entering a pool.
  • Teach self-rescue skills in realistic conditions, such as swimming in clothes.
  • Allow parents to observe a class to determine if it’s a good fit for their child.
  • Offer multiple sessions, showing consistent progress in skills.

For children under 4, look for programs that:

  • Create an age-appropriate environment, where children feel safe and supported in their social, intellectual, physical, and emotional development.
  • Include “touch supervision,” where an adult is within arm’s reach at all times. Parent participation should also be encouraged.
  • Maintain water purity, as young children are more likely to swallow or inhale water. Proper water disinfection and chlorine levels are crucial.
  • Keep the water warm, ideally between 87 to 94 degrees, to prevent hypothermia in young children.

If you have questions about whether your child is ready for swim lessons, talk to your pediatrician. Pediatric Partners of Augusta is happy to help parents ensure their children’s safety around water. Contact us today for more information and to schedule an appointment.

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