Would you agree that helping children develop good aquatic skills as early as possible is important?
Did you know that latest research validates that early aquatic activity can contribute to strengthening your baby’s muscles, coordination, and balance?
What about relationships and quality time with the parents?
Do you know that your toddler will be able to swim 25 meters independently by the age of 4 if they persistently participate in our aquatic education program?
Aquanat has developed a unique, therapeutic method aimed to teach tangible aquatic skills to babies while incorporating extra stimulation to encourage strengthening of their muscles, and building of their self-confidence, independence, creativity, and social skills.
The method teaches parents how to facilitate their child’s learning, all the while improving the bond between parents and their babies.
Last but not least, as some of our clients report, your children will soon become little dolphins!
Here are 10 tips to help you make the most of your swimming lessons with your child:
1. Things you can you do before your first water session
Happy bath time: bathing is more than just getting clean. When being supervised, babies can find a whole new world of pleasure, games and fun in their bath time. You can create a magical beautiful space with toys, colours and murals, and play background music, but most of all share spacious precious time with your baby’s bath activities.
Being present, and from time to time active participation, reinforce feeling safe and connected, opens up opportunities to share the joy, and introduces opportunities to play and learn.
2. Food before, during, and after
It is recommended to eat around 20-30 minutes before the lesson, especially for younger babies 10 weeks -18 months.
Young babies and toddlers do not have the endurance or skills to withstand feeling hangry during their aquatic sessions. They will probably be agitated and wouldn’t be able to tell you why the lesson is suddenly no longer attractive for them.
It is also important to feed sufficient time before the session, so that food won’t be emitted or create heaviness. Being fed in too short a time before the water session can result in a discharge or in trapped air causing discomfort. You can help your baby by holding under her arms and by slowly lifting and lowering her body in and out of the water.
The changing pressure of the water, by a confident attentive parent, will be very reassuring and can help the baby release the tension and the air into the water!
As muscles are built during sleep and our immune system gets stronger after exercise, care should be taken to give the baby food before bed and after class as well.
Children who eat immediately after class and fall asleep, build the muscle better and progress faster.
3. Arrive to your lesson at least 15 minutes early
When you arrive early you have plenty of time to prepare for the session in a relaxed way. Having enough time to get ready provides an opportunity to establish a calm and relaxed environment for both yourself and your child. Taking a few minutes to connect with the pool environment can help the child to be more receptive to learning and interaction in the lesson.
Humans respond to one another’s nervous systems, and babies learn by mirroring their caregivers at a young age, hence, by self-regulating your own state of mind, you are helping your child do the same.
4. Create a ritual before the session
Parents are telling us that their little ones, from as early as 16 months, learn to count the days before and after their swimming lessons. They learn how to prepare their swimming gear and they even tell their parents what they are going to do in their next session in the pool. Creating a ritual prior to and after the session facilitates consistency and a positive parent-child bond, as well as promotes a sense of security in children, which in turn encourages learning and joy.
5. What to do if the baby cries during the water session?
Sometimes babies will cry during the lessons with no apparent reason. Not hungry or tired, and yet still unhappy. We can only guess, as babies have yet to develop language or skills to communicate their needs with us, so instead of wrecking our brains trying to find a reason or explanation, we can try to just accept it, exercise being patient, and try a few things to help our baby to sail back to a calmer sea.
Things to try:
Taking a big breath, relaxing, and realising that it is not anyone’s fault
Finding a quiet place in the pool
Embracing your baby to your chest, going down into the warm water and gently rocking from side to side
Humming quietly into your baby ear, maybe her favourite lullaby
Allowing your baby to suck your thumb
Giving your baby a dummy
Feeding a bit more - bottle or breastfeeding - all welcomed in the water
If nothing helps, it’s better to stop the lesson than to insist on staying, so that your baby doesn’t make a link between water and discomfort.
Babies come to the world free of innate fear of water after spending around 9 months in their mother’s womb, surrounded by a warm liquid environment. Yet, without being allowed to joyfully practice their innate skills of naturally holding their breath when being submerged, this skill is normally lost by the age of 12 months. At the same time, submerging should be done in a gradual, gentle, attentive and loving manner.
The more we as parents enjoy the company of others, the more fun our children will have. Social interactions, connecting, and sharing experiences, enrich your child’s learning experience and invite active participation. In my many years in the water with parents and their children, I witnessed how some of the connections that began in the water had flourished into a lifelong friendship.
A great way to establish connection with other parents in your class is by creating a WhatsApp group and sharing photos and ideas.
If possible, schedule them after the session and not before.
9. Continuity = equals = Achievement
Children learn by repeating experiences, revisiting learnt skills and by repeating them until they become a natural part of them. This shouldn’t be hard labor! Instead, invite learning by applying playfulness, stimulate curiosity, and throw in some challenges, exactly like any game that they would normally play. This is why we say that “kids play to perfect their game”.
Therefore, consistency and repetition of the activity that stimulates learning is part of the formula for success.
10. How to know when sick is really sick and we should skip a session?
If your child is with a high temperature (fever), then it will be better to miss a session. However, a sneeze, a snotty nose, and a cough are all part of the process by which your child’s immunity system is studying the new environment and adjusting. This last few symptoms can be present 70%-90% of the first few years in a child life and are not reasons to miss a class. However, if those are making your child miserable and she does not have her normal energy and interest levels, then asking the nurse or your GP might be needed to make a reasonable decision which of the normal activities it is better to take a break from.
A fun and exciting experience awaits you with the little ones in the water!
Anat Juran © January 25th, 2019
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