We sat down and chatted with our friends at Little Otter Swim School recently and talked about all things year-round swimming. Come over, sit down, relax and eavesdrop on our convo. 🙂
Why is year round swimming important for preschool-age kids?
Swimming is a critical skill that must be taught at an early age and is similar to life lessons such as wearing a seatbelt, looking both ways before crossing and not talking to strangers. Swimming can be the difference between life and death. But unlike those critical life lessons, swimming also provides an outlet for fun, socialization, athleticism and competition. It is a way for families to bond and for kids to make friends.
When signing a child up for swim lessons, it is normal to think that maybe a few lessons will be sufficient. But just as you wouldn’t expect your three year old to play more than “chopsticks” on the piano, you can’t expect in four lessons he will know how to do backstroke. Parents, like children, need to be patient and understand that it is often the repetition and relaxed, playful atmosphere that produces the best results, rather than a strict learning environment. Year round swimming reinforces what is learned and produces the best results in teaching a child to swim quickly. It allows a child opportunity and encourages repetition that will ensure that they have this critical life skill.
At what age should you begin swim lessons and/or year round swim?
The National Institutes of Health recently released a study that supports the positive impact learn to swim lessons can have on young children and drowning prevention. It states, “Providing very young children with swimming lessons appears to have a protective effect against drowning and does not increase children’s risk of drowning.” Contrary to long held beliefs, introducing your infant to swimming lessons at even 6 months, does not encourage them to be overly bold and unsafe around water. The study concludes: Participating in formal swimming lessons was associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning in children between the ages of 1 to 4. (Arch Pediatric Med. 2009; 163(3):203-210)
We start our Otter Baby program at age 6 months. This is what feels comfortable for our instructors and curriculum. The real answer is… you know when it’s best to start. Because the Otter Baby program requires an adult, it is really more important to have Mom and Dad on board for the weekly visit, the changing room, getting wet, singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” 5 million times… than baby. What works for you will work for baby. Most parents tell us this is a wonderful time with their children and some tell us it is the half hour they get to relax and tune into their baby. Try us when you’re ready.
The best time to start lessons is when the child and the family are ready to learn. Our classes are starting constantly and we may be able to get you into a class this week. The biggest factor in children doing well in swim lesson is consistent attendance and supportive parents. Some children take longer to warm up to new experience and parents that in for the long haul are able to get past this initial reluctance.
How often do you recommend young children swim in the “off season”?
We recommend that children take classes at least once a week whether it is in-season or off. Remember the repetition is important. Allowing a lengthy gap between lessons can work against your child and slow down this or her progress. (Please see info in Q1 as the importance of repetition is detailed there)
What does Little Otter do to keep kids engaged throughout the year?
We offer a full range of classes year round so children can always be engaged in swimming at Little Otter.
We offer regularly scheduled (twice a month) Family Swim Nights that encourage everyone to enjoy the water and enjoy swimming even if they don’t have a pool or a community pool membership.
We also offer the Safer 3 Water Safety Challenge so that children can see what it’s like to be in the water with their clothes on. This is important because many children who accidentally fall in the water don’t realize that they CAN swim with their regular clothes on. Instructors are there to make sure that all children are safe. The day is always an incredibly fun day for the children since they’re getting their clothes wet!
Little Otter Charlotte
8200 Tower Point Drive
Charlotte, NC 28227
Little Otter Huntersville
14415 Reese Boulevard
Huntersville, NC 28078