Swimming has always been a wholesome fun activities for all ages. Swimming is not just a competitive sport or exercise that keep our physical body healthy, it also has many benefits in mental and social development. As accidental drowning in Malaysia is a problem yet to be solved, to be able to swim is one way to have a better protection in water. However, to be able to swim is just one of several aspects of protection to help prevent drowning. Other important aspects includes adult supervision at all time when your child is in or near water, and children’s blocked access to pools. Be mindful that swim lessons don't make children "drown proof".
As swimming centres and swim teachers are easily accessible nowadays, signing up for a swimming lesson is easier. Nevertheless, a right swim teacher and a right swimming program have a lot of impact on your child's learning path. A swimming centre and its teachers should be well prepared to deliver quality swimming lessons, failure to achieve acceptable quality could lead to traumatic learning experiences and negative emotions when positioned in the water. These experiences are extremely uncomfortable and the remnants of fear can be carried towards adulthood.
So what are the factors that you can observe in a quality swim centre or swim teacher?
Qualified swim teachers for your child. A complete set of certifications and trainings for swim teachers who are specialized in teaching children is not merely on swimming techniques, the most important element is actually understanding children of different age group, and how to employ the appropriate teaching technique to achieve effective learning. A lifeguard certificate is not equivalent to a swim teacher certificate.
Current CPR and AED qualified swim teachers. When life-threatening situations arise, there is no time to waste before emergency medical aid arrives. Swim teachers and staffs need to be competent in basic life support skills for adults, children and infants.
Teach good safety habits in and out of water. Drowning and near drowning can occur even during the process of learning to swim. Safe teaching must be practiced at all times, avoiding any unwanted accidents. Some of the examples of unsafe practice include allowing children to run and jump around or near water and unsupervised teaching during classes that may cause near drowning and accidental drowning.
Safe class ratio. Safe class ration can affect the effectiveness of teaching, and most importantly allow sufficient supervision of the children in the pool. For an infant program, the ration is preferably maximum 1 teacher: 8 infants; and for children above 3 years of age, the recommended ration is maximum 1 teacher: 4 children.
Include "on arms reach supervision". Whenever infants, toddlers or children are in or around water even during swim lessons, an adult should be within an arm's reach to provide "on arm’s reach supervision". Parent’s participation should be encouraged, some of the techniques learned during the class can be practiced with the child before the next class.
Able to identify the child’s capability and limitations. A good swim teacher is one who is able to provide swimming lessons based on your child’s individual needs. Many swim centres or swim programs rush for competitive swimming strokes on children as young as 3 years of age. Your child may not be at the right age to achieve such physical and mental development milestone. Pushing the child to perform beyond her limitations is unreasonable and possibly causing traumatizing stress. Learning swimming should start from water familiarization, experiencing buoyancy and movement in the water. Swimming lessons can be stress-free for children, preferably negate away from strict, soldier-like routines in the lessons. Non-forceful participation and anticipation help a child to continue learning toward mastery and passionate in the sport of swimming at the right age.
Let you watch your child's class for extra motivation. The setting of the pool should be designed in such a way, whereby parents can observe their children’s class session. It can be a direct observation from the pool deck, or watching through a transparent glass wall. Your encouragement is important as your child’s world is all about you. Most of the time effective learning takes place in a positive environment, such as when you clap and cheer for your child.
An atmosphere in the pool that is comfortable for your child. Your child should feel safe and secure during lessons, with activities that support their social, intellectual, physical, and emotional development. A healthy atmosphere is one that is welcoming and fun. A successful swim program creates this atmosphere naturally to cultivate a passionate and healthy learning process.
A swim centre or a swim program that give you constructive feedback on your child's learning progress. It is important for you to understand your child's progression from your child's swim lessons. A good progress evaluation reports not only the physical aspect of swimming, it also analyse the social emotion, behaviour and cognitive aspects of your learning child.
Last but not least, you and your child need to be comfortable going to the swim centre or swim lesson! A comfortable facility and swim lesson make a lot of difference. You are most probably going to visit the centre and attend the swim lesson every week for a long period. A welcoming and friendly environment reflects that a lot of details and efforts are placed, to make sure every visit that you make is worth for you and your child.