Babies and children have a natural love of the water. It’s little wonder when you remember they spent the first 40 weeks of their lives swimming around the in-house leisure pool, otherwise known as your uterus! In fact, floating around in a warm pool will feel more natural for them than being on dry land.
Babies are born with an amazing natural ability to swim. A pair of primitive reflexes known as the dive and swim reflex means they’re able to hold their breath, open their eyes and move their arms and legs in a swimming motion from birth.
However, this confidence diminishes as a child gets older and they lose this natural reflex. Without regular access to water, some children become fearful about entering the water at all.
The benefits of regular swimming and water confidence should not be underestimated, and by teaching your children to swim and not be afraid, you are providing them with essential life skills that could one day save their lives.
Swimming is a low impact form of exercise that works out every muscle in the body. Unlike some activities all the family regardless of age can enjoy it.
Help your children gain confidence and have fun at the same time by playing one of these fun games with them:
- Put a small, lightweight object into the water (like a ping pong ball or foam animal) and encourage your children to blow them along
- Pretend to wash your face and hair by sprinkling water over your head and then vigorously rubbing your head and head as the water drips down
- Once your child has overcome the fear of water on her face, ask her whether she can float on the water like a starfish. Floating is one of the essential skills of swimming, and you will find once they’ve mastered this, swimming won’t be far behind.
Children who are confident around water will often be keen to try out other water-based activities such as sailing, jet skiing, kayaking or canoeing. These are all fantastic outdoor activities that can turn a boring weekend into a fun one for the whole family.
However, if you’re based in Canada you should be aware that a recent change to the law in 2009 means that anyone operating a pleasure craft with an on-board motor is required to carry proof of competency, such as an Ontario boating license. The law was introduced to reduce the number of boating related accidents and deaths and is obligatory for all, regardless of age or experience.
Start at home
There are so many watery fun things for you and your children to enjoy from the comfort of your home, all of which will instill a life-long love of water. Try out some of these fun games and activities:
- Oil and water are just not friends are they? Have a mini science lesson and experiment adding oil to water, investigating what can be added to help them mix and get along better.
- Take the gravity challenge – fill a glass with water and cover completely with a small piece of card (make sure there are no bubbles or gaps) then over a sink, turn the glass upside down before taking your hand away from the card. Your children will be amazed that the water doesn’t escape from the glass!
- During the warmer months make sure you have lots of watery fun in your garden by setting up a paddling pool and sprinkler.
This article was written by Amanda Walters, an experienced freelance writer and regular contributor to Huffington Post. Follow her here: @Amanda_W84