Swimming is a great activity for a hot day that provides entertainment and exercise. Swimming helps children develop strength and coordination, and is considered an important life-saving skill. As a former child swim instructor, I have met many parents who struggle with a child who is afraid of water.
Here are some tips on making swimming fun and encouraging your child to enjoy the water
- If your child is afraid of water, ask him/her why. Many times, children don’t like it when they can’t see the bottom of a lake or pond. Start in a shallow pool with clear water.
- Play games while sitting on the steps. You can play “drums” on the water, hitting the surface with your hands and making big splashes. Work your way down the steps, deeper and deeper..
- Blow bubbles in the water. If your child doesn’t want to put his/her face in the water, use a straw to make bubbles. You can pretend you’re fish or sing a song underwater. Or you can have competitions to see who can hold their breath the longest.
- Fetch sinkable toys from the bottom of the pool. There are colored rings, boats, and other objects that are available for this purpose. This will encourage kids to submerge their whole bodies and help them figure out how to move in the water. You can start shallow and move deeper.
Once your child is feeling more comfortable in the water, there are plenty of games you can play to make pool time more fun and encourage exercise and gross motor play
- 1-2-3-Trophy: Make up different ways of moving your legs while doing a handstand in the water. For example, the “trophy” handstand involves keeping your legs straight, while the “scissor” handstand involves scissoring your legs back and forth. See how many you and your child can think of!
- Water basketball: Floatable basketball hoops or hoops set up at the edge of the pool are great.
- Water volleyball
- Jumping Simon-Says: As one person is about to jump in the pool, someone has to yell out what kind of jump they have to do (cannonball, pencil, star, etc). The jumper has to quickly make that position in the air before they hit the water.
- Races: Race from one end of the pool to the other, or race to collect sunken objects.
- Shark-Attack: For groups of 3 or more, one person plays the shark, who turns his/her back to the pool. The other people have to make it from one side of the pool to the other without being tagged by the shark. If the shark thinks the others have started swimming, he/she can jump in and try to tag them.
Swimming is a great outdoor activity that promotes exercise and gross motor development. Use these tips if your child doesn’t enjoy swimming or is afraid of the water.