Monday, June 6, 2011

Diving in to summer water fun!

Splish! Splash! Summer is here! No time like the present to dive in to water fun with your child no matter what their age.  

Play in the water and swimming has so many benefits for children and adults that the early you start exposing your child the better.  Because accidents around water and drowning are one of the most common causes of serious injury and fatalities in children, water safety awareness needs to be introduced at an early age. Babies and young toddlers can be taught simple techniques such as a rescue float to help in emergency situations. Local Red Cross or County Parks and Recreation Programs are great places to start with introductory swim lessons. Many include parents in the water with the child at early ages.

Some children can be fearful of water. This is actually quite common. If this is the case with your child, expose them to water in smaller amounts, such as a bucket, a basin, and then a wading pool or bath tub with you present.  If you introduce a baby to the sensation of water over their head, such as with the shower head, at an early age, they often will not develop fears as they age.Make water fun by introducing creative play options using water. Encourage pouring water and filling buckets.  Wringing out sponges and playing with small cups are saucers are great opportunities for fine motor play in the water.  Older children can have relay races carrying while pouring water from one bucket to another or using squirt guns to draw shapes or simple pictures on the sidewalk. 



When your child is old enough to learn how to actually swim, a swim backpack for flotation vs. swimmies or an inner tube is preferred for the ability it provides for arms to be free to move and learn strokes. A backpack also challenges a child from the start to independently keep themselves upright in the water - a vital skill to build on as they learn.  Some backpacks even come with layered foam for flotation that can be removed as the child becomes a stronger and more confident swimmer. 

The setting, time of day, and type of class will vary and will be different for different kids.  Despite my husband and I being lifeguards and teaching children to swim, we could not teach our own children! Talk about frustrating!! We found that a class setting for several sessions and weeks in a row consistently worked best for our daughters.  Some children will learn best in this setting and others will learn best one and one. Often lifeguards will offer private lessons if that's the best fit for your child and their personality.

If your child has atypical muscle tone or muscle weakness, movement in the water can be extremely beneficial as the properties of water itself have many benefits. Resistance can strengthen muscles while bouancy supports movement.  Water play and swimming builds cardiovascular endurance and bone density as well.  Balance can be challenged in creative ways or movement that is difficult is often less intimidating in a supportive aquatic environment. Many communities have outpatient centers that offer aquatic physical therapy, so if you feel this could help your child with motor challenges, look into this fun option today.

With water - safety comes first.  Teach this to your children at an early age.  My daughters love to swim now, but when they protested swim lessons a few years ago, I remember explaining that swimming is a life skill necessary for safety. In our house, they didn't have a choice to try it out like gymnastics or swimming. Learning to swim was a requirement to keep them safe - lucky for them it's also alot of fun!

Some of my favorite childhood memories are around the pool with my friends and family. I'm looking forward to making some of those sweet memories with my own family this summer and hope you get the chance to as well!

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Welcome to our blog! As longtime friends, we recently decided to combine our professional experience (as a speech-language pathologist and physical therapist) and "Mommy Experience" to create a company dedicated to something we are both extremely passionate about - letting kids be kids! Milestones and Miracles, LLC was formed in 2010. Our mission is to empower parents in understanding the natural progression of their child's development (and not rush it along and skip stages). We develop and provide developmental products to support this learning process, bonding families through engaging, fun, and meaningful experiences! We are thrilled to share that our first product, 1 2 3 Just Play With Me is available for sale. Visit www.milestonesandmiracles.com to learn more and order a unique product for yourself & your child or as a gift! We will continue use this blog to share about topics that interest and excite us. Stay tuned!

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