Getting waterborne is a big step in a child’s life, but it doesn’t have to be a leap they find daunting. With you at their side, they can giggle, splash and play in the water, attentions soaked up by a game you’ve introduced either as participant or referee. Before long, they’ll become aquatic superstars without even realising it!
That’s because we learn best when we’re having fun. Whether you’re at the pool with one child or several, here are five forms of edutainment to throw out into their swim sessions.
1. Mermaid races
You’ll need goggles for this, but we’re guessing they’re already part of your swim arsenal – children can’t get enough of the underwater perspective! For two or more swimmers, task them with racing to the other end of the pool, seeing who can hold their breath for the greatest amount of time. By putting a submerged caveat on the game, you’ll be testing their breath control and stamina.
2. A pool singalong
Does your child know any action-based songs, like ‘Ring Around The Rosy’ or a rhyme that lets them clap their hands? Ask them to perform it in the water: the familiar motions, combined with yours, will make a boy or girl used to the motion effects. They’ll build up strength, and you can introduce another element by going underwater and spinning them by their legs – if they can still perform the song and dance, faster and faster, they win!
3. The trampoline
One of the scariest challenges for a child is jumping in unaided. To boost their confidence, sit them on the poolside, and stand in the shallows with your arms open and ready. They can then fall into the water, landing in your grip; once there, you can lift them up and down like a bouncing trampoline. Eventually, your son or daughter will get bolder about the jump, leading them to crash into the water by themselves.
4. Catching ‘fish’
This is a fantastic competition, although it can also be a timed game for lone swimmers. It does, however, need a bit of space in your side of the pool, as you’ll be planting inflatable toys around the water’s surface. One by one, kids have to catch the fish and bring them to you – those who retrieve the most are victorious. Sing along if you like: ‘1-2-3-4-5, once I caught a fish alive!’…
Haven’t heard of noseball before? That’s because we invented the name, despite it being a popular choice for kids of all swim abilities. Fill up balloons with water so they float, or use a pack of ping pong balls; whatever the preferred item, set up a pair of little goal posts to aim for at the closest pool edge. Give your child a swimming aid like the Mani, on which they can lie flat and push a ball towards the goal with their nose. Keep going, and call out encouragement until all the balls have been used to score.
There are far more than five games to explore… By dipping into some research, you’ll have an unbeatable set of activities for your kids to savour and develop with. Supported by a swim aid and your untiring encouragement, your child will find that learning curve a lot less steep.