Teaching kids to swim is vital. Getting them comfortable in the water is the best way to turn them into fluent swimmers without them even noticing. For young kids, the best option is to turn it into a game. Crank up the pool cleaner, and start looking forward to some real fun in the pool.
Water games safety basics
The safety factor, naturally, is the main issue for pool games. Depending on the age of the kid, physical maturity, and fitness, you can tailor pool games which are safe, confidence building and fun.
Factors to consider:
Age: Pool games are great for age 5 and up.
Physical maturity: Kids age differently. To play pool games they need to be able to stand in the shallow end with the upper body well out of the water.
Fitness: Energetic kids who can keep going all day are fine. Those who are less physically confident should be started on realistic levels of exercise in the pool.
Safety: Always make sure the games are well within the level of competence in the water of the child. It’s advisable not to mix kids with great differences in size and strength in the pool games. It’s not a fair contest.
Confidence: The “fear factor” in the water is good safety practice, because the kids who are wary of the water have very good survival instincts. They always play safe, and don’t take risks. As long as these kids are sure they’re OK, they’ll respond well and develop confidence in the water based on their own achievements.
1. Kids must always be under adult supervision in the pool.
2. Do not under any circumstances allow young kids to play in the pool without someone on site and ready to respond to an emergency.
Balancing on an air mattress: This is incredible fun, and trying to stand on an air mattress is hilarious. Nobody wins, but they have a lot of fun losing. You’ll they forget about any difficulty swimming the minute they start having fun.
Note: The air mattress has to be in the middle shallow end of the pool, with no risk of anyone falling off and hitting the sides of the pool.
Races: For young kids, racing from one side to another at the shallow end is fun, safe and builds fitness rapidly. (Note: An adult should be standing between the kids and the deeper water for the races.)
Water polo: This game is for kids who are adequate swimmers, but need more stamina and agility in the water. You can make goals out of simple markers like floats in the water. Water polo can make excellent swimmers out of anyone, and you’ll find that kids will respond to the activity and join in the fun easily enough.
Note: No tackling! Ball chasing and passing only. The adult in charge should keep an eye on anyone looking tired.
Pool propaganda: To encourage some more unconscious water skills, after play, give the kids a treat with a heated pool to drift around in. Get your pool pump in shape, and prepare to put up with kids who refuse to come out of the water.