While swimming lessons are popular for babies and toddlers, sometimes we take the foot off the swimming lesson accelerator as kids get older [and busier!]. Life gets in the way, the kids are showing interest in other sports or activities – we totally get it.
But keeping kids in the pool during the primary school years is still super-important for stacks of reasons – one of which [and definitely the most important] is vital survival skill development.
Are you thinking of taking your primary school-aged child out of swimming classes or you already have? Maybe your child has never done swimming lessons and you’re considering signing them up. Here are some pretty compelling reasons from Aquabliss Frensham’s Centre Manager, Jason Nicholas about why getting them back into the water is a good idea.
1 // Take advantage of improved motor skills
Kids in their primary school years are a whole lot more coordinated than when they were toddlers splashing about. Now’s the time to take advantage of these vastly improved motor skills and make big leaps in the water.
“The K-6 age group is what I refer to as the golden years when learning to swim,” says Jason.
“These are the age groups that make big leaps in their swimming skills and ability as they become more comfortable in the aquatic environment.”
Children’s motor skills and coordination are firmly embedded during these years which is one of the reasons why attending regular swim classes can be so beneficial.
“Definitely. As instructors, we want to make the most of these developmental opportunities and cement the foundations of swimming during these years,” Jason points out.
In other words, strike while the iron is hot [and ummmm wet].
2 // Learning vital survival skills
“It’s no coincidence these are also the high-risk age groups who can quickly get into trouble if they’re not confident swimmers,” says Jason.
“Primary school-aged children are learning to push themselves further and push parent boundaries as they become more adventurous.”
Aaaah yes, the pushing of boundaries – a parents’ FAVOURITE thing to deal with! Tell us more.
“Supporting this part of their development in a safe environment is essential for minimising risk in the water.”
“That’s why we introduced the PASS program last year which focuses on survival skills.”
Run 2-3 times a year for one week at a time, children wear full clothing in the pool to get used to the sensation of what wearing clothes in an aquatic environment feels like. They’re then taught the skills to get themselves out of trouble and chat as a group, guided by the swimming instructors about water safety rules and guidelines to follow.
“We live an outdoorsy life in the Highlands and kids are regularly swimming in their own pool, or at friends’ pools, in dams, rivers, waterholes or heading down to the beach. So teaching them how to save themselves [and not panic] if they find themselves in a risky situation can be life-saving.”
3 // Identify talent and nurture a love of the water
While the Aquabliss Frensham team isn’t expecting to discover the next Thorpedo, this is the age where many instructors identify children who have a natural affinity for the water and a love of all things aquatic.
“The Aquabliss swimming program isn’t age-based. It’s totally based on skill. It’s great because kids can progress at their own pace and children who have a natural ability in the water can progress quickly through to the later stages of the program which incorporates skills such as stroke development if that’s what they’re keen to move on to,” says Jason.
And did you guys know there is a really strong water polo community in the Highlands?
“We see a number of kids in our swimming program who are confident in the water take up water polo in the latter years of primary school. They continue on with the Aquabliss program to build endurance, stamina and fitness.”
4 // Staying active year-round
“Thanks to indoor pools, there’s been a change in perception that swimming is just a summertime activity,” Jason says.
“Many children either do a winter or summer sport so enrolling them in swimming lessons during their ‘off-season’ is a great way to keep them active year-round, but also to keep building on their swimming skills during these years.”
Good point! And it’s also an awesome way for a parent or carer to get 45 minutes to themselves to read a book in a nice, cosy indoor aquatic centre in the cooler months! [Speaking from experience…..!] Oh, and they have underfloor heating – how good is that?
5 // Focus on a specific skill
Building on the point Jason made earlier about taking advantage of the improved motor skills of this age group, this is also a time to focus on specific skills like diving, for example.
“If you’re learning how to dive as a high schooler or adult, fear definitely comes into play…..so the earlier we can teach more difficult skills like this, the better,” says Jason.
“Private lessons or our school holiday intensive programs are great for developing specific skills.”
6 // It’s never too late
Jason is absolutely adamant it’s never too late to learn to swim.
“Don’t worry if your child is in primary school and has never been enrolled in swimming classes. We have a very strong teaching methodology in place that adapts to the confidence, experience, age and skill level of each individual child,” says Jason.
“No two children are ever the same. We recognise that so have a very flexible teaching approach.”
Private lessons could help a child that’s starting swimming lessons for the first time too though, right?
“Absolutely and we do offer those, but private lessons aren’t for everyone. Sometimes a group environment encourages the child to move along faster as they observe their classmates and learn from them too. Many kids are naturally competitive and simply want to do what the other kids are doing!” Jason says.
“We can also enrol anyone at any time. You don’t have to wait until a term starts or finishes.”
So if you’re considering enrolling your primary schooler into swimming lessons, or you weren’t and Jason’s awesome insight has changed your mind, get in touch with us today. We have a robust swimming program for all ages and skills on offer, which means you’ll find the right place to start, continue or build on your child’s swimming journey.