Lessons I Learned at Toddler Swim Classes

Yang Mommy

This is my second tour of duty at toddler swim classes.  During my time, I’ve learned some invaluable nuggets of wisdom that I’d like to share with all you brave parents and care-givers, who are willing to get kicked, splashed and mauled in the water with a toddler.  (Please note that if I haven’t experienced the below scenarios, I’ve assuredly witnessed them!)

Ten Things I’ve Learned at Aquatots

  • Arrive early to class.  Putting a swimsuit on an excited 2 yr old is like trying to catch fish with your bare hands.  It takes patience!
  • Establish your pool rules.  Do it before leaving the comfort of your home, again in the ride over, again in the locker room and again on the pool deck.  repetition, repetition!  Else wise, you may end up with the dreaded “time-out.”
  • Don’t be afraid/hesitant/embarrassed to issue a “time-out” while in the pool.  You may need to sit them on steps or on the side of the pool, but discipline is discipline, no matter the locale.  Don’t worry, only the teenage lifeguards will give you strange looks if your child is howling in protest; the rest of the parents will be eyeing you with sympathy as they think, “Oh, glad it’s  not my child.”
  • Bring extra swim diapers.  Even if your tot is pretty good at using the toilet at home, there’s something about the pool that decreases inhibitions about peeing in it.  And, you never know what harried parent may  have forgotten their own supply of “swimmies!”  (And don’t forget the wipes, too!)
  • Bring two towels.  Yes, sounds like a “duh” but I’ve seen several parents shivering on the pool deck after class because they only brought one towel with them for their kid.
  • Bring a snack.  It’s simple enough to bring in a granola bar or piece of fruit and some juice for the after-swim time.  Kids get really hungry after all that water play.  So either tote it along in your bag or keep it in the car, but please, feed those hungry kiddies!
  • Wear water-proof mascara, ladies.  If you’re going to wear any at all, make sure it’s water-proof.  Nothing scarier than seeing a woman enthusiastically tell her child to “Jump in, honey!”  while tears of black run down her face like a crazed clown.
  • Wear appropriate swimsuits.  Toddler swim classes are not the place to flaunt your sexy new string bikini and flash your mammories (or Speedos, men).   Unless you want the lifeguard to ogle you as your top inevitably falls off because your child just saw a crazed clown and is clinging to you like a rabid monkey.
  • Follow your instincts in the water.  Most aquatot classes are designed for 1-3 year olds.  They’re not going to graduate the class knowing the butterfly stroke!  The intention with most of these classes is simply to get your child used to the water, having their ears and head under the water, and knowing to kick up if they are indeed,  under water.  So even if the instructor is bellowing out orders to “Float on your stomachs!” and your tot doesn’t want to, OK.  Don’t force them, just encourage them.  And if they really don’t want to, then at least you’re having fun with them in the water.
  • Leave the cameras at home.  I understand you want pics of your kids swimming and jumping, but if you are the only parent at the pool, there is absolutely no place for a camera.  All your attention must be focused on your child at all times.  Instead, leave the shutterbugging to a friend or spouse.
  • Have fun!  Most of all, enjoy your time in the water with your tot.  Even if the diaper’s leaking and they’re sitting on the steps screaming about not wanting to be in time-out because they pulled your swimsuit straps down for the third time.  Even then…

YIN:

My daughter started taking swim lessons around the age of 8 months because we live in Florida and there are numerous accidents and deaths every year in the state when kids fall in pools/lakes/canals and don’t know what to do. I was determined to get her in some sort of class early on so that a fear of water would not overcome her and she could have a healthy respect for it. 

My daughter took a very different swim class than the one Yang describes above.  And to that I say “thank goodness!”  I don’t think I could handle a swimming class with multitudes of children of different levels splashing around while I’m in the pool with them.   It’s just not my thing.  My daughter had individualized instruction and the term “swimming lessons” is really a misnomer.  It was more of a learning how to turn over and stay afloat if the baby falls in the water – the very basics for a tiny child. 

This was perfect for us.  I got to stay on the sidelines (and take the pictures) while my daughter and her instructor had their 20 minute lesson three times a week. At first the thought of going that often was daunting but the lessons were in the morning so she just went before going to daycare and I went to work a little late those days.  She didn’t like it getting in the pool at the start but eventually she warmed up to her teacher and the pool. 

Unfortunately due to some health issues my daughter hasn’t been able to continue her swimming lessons.  The group that certified her teacher, Infant Swimming Resource, is very strict and if the child has had certain illnesses in a restricted time period they can’t continue the lessons.  While this is a little challenging, I appreciate their concern and anticipate my daughter taking lessons again soon.  When she does start up again she’ll still be in individual classes as she progresses and I think I’ll keep it that way for a while so she can get personalized attention. 

My best tip to anyone, no matter where they live, to get your child swimming lessons as soon as possible.  Not only is swimming great exercise and a perfect way to cool down on a hot day, but according to the Center for Disease Control “fatal drowning remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in children ages 1 to 14”.  If you’re not sure where to get swimming lessons from check out ISR or your local YMCA. Or ask a friend who has a child who takes lessons.  No matter the type of swimming class you choose for your child, it could be something that eventually saves their life.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. This is really good advice – I wish I had it 5 years ago!! Especially bringing snacks and extra, extra swim diapers – ugh!

    Swati

    Reply

  2. Posted by yangmommy on July 22, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks for dropping by, Swati! Alas, one must learn some things by experience, such as the swim diapers ;>

    Reply

  3. These are fantastic tips thank you. I’ve been researching toddler swimming lessons and needed some frank advice. =)

    I’ll definitely bring extra swim diapers… hehe

    Reply

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