Are you ready to raise a water baby? Here are a few important things to know before signing Junior up for swimming class.
Choose a certified coach from a reputable or recognised swim school. Shawn Chua, head swim coach at Able Aquatic School, says that coaches who teach at public pools are usually Singapore Sports Council (SPORT Singapore)-certified. Talking to other parents and reading online testimonials of the various swim instructors and schools can also help you make the right decision.
The coach’s personality counts
This makes a huge difference to how well your child takes to the sport. “An instructor can be highly certified, but if he does not have the ability to deliver the lesson in a fun and engaging manner, your kid is definitely not going to like the class,” says Shawn. Since every child is different, you’ll want to choose a coach who is a good “fit”. “Every coach has his own coaching style, and it’s important for your kid to be comfortable with it,” adds Justin Phua, a swim instructor at Aqua Bambinos Swim School. You can request a trial lesson to determine the suitability of an instructor, although, in some cases, this lesson may be chargeable.
When to start depends what you want to achieve, says Shawn. “If you are mainly interested in building up Junior’s confidence, then you can start as soon as he is born. Babies and young kids up to the age of three will usuallydo a lot of exercises to help grow their confidence. “If you want your child to learn how to swim properly, and be part of a class that follows a syllabus and gives out awards at the end of each term, then he can start from age four.” Justin adds: “The basics are important. Your kid may be confident in the water, but rushing him into an advanced class will only have a negative impact on his progression, and this may affect his swim strokes in the future.”
Learning to swim starts with feeling safe and comfortable in the water, and a beginner swim class helps with that. He will learn how to float, how to regulate his breathing, submergence, basic kicking and pulling, arm movements, how to blow bubbles, and so on. Once he has gotten used to the water, feels confident about the various movements, and understands what water safety is all about, he can then move on to specific swim strokes. Shawn adds that basic life-saving and survival skills are also taught in more advanced classes.
Is he medically fit?
Swimming has numerous benefits – it builds confidence, increases safety awareness, helps with psychomotor development, and encourages a healthy and active lifestyle. But before you book his first swimming lesson, Justin suggests getting the “allclear” from the paediatrician. “Although all children – even the very young and those with disabilities – can benefit from swimming, you will want to get some advice from a medical professional beforehand,” he says.
By Sasha Gonzales, Young Parents, August 2015