Your child is registered for swimming classes, and it's time to take the big plunge. They've never taken swimming lessons, and neither of you are sure what to expect. If your soon-to-be little swimmer is feeling nervous, anxious or apprehensive, take a look at these tips for making the first swim lesson run smoothly. Keep in mind that careful pre-lesson prep can save you time and get your child excited about their first aqua adventure.
Talk Up the Pool
Give your child a positive association with the water long before they ever dip a toe in the pool. Talk up your swimming experiences, pointing out how much you enjoy the activity. Don't stress if you only have limited swimming experience. Chances are that at some point, you got into a pool and at least dog paddled around.
Tell your child stories about fun family trips to the pool from your own youth. If you were on the swim team or competed during your school days, tell your child a story about your favorite race or the stroke that won you a medal. Make it exciting, providing plenty of details. This will help to calm any of your child's fears (Mom or Dad wouldn't do something that's scary) and get them excited for that very first lesson.
Take a Dip
The first time your child puts their face in the water may seem scary. Why? Well, because it's something they're not used to. If they've never been in a pool, putting their face in the water may seem strange. Gradually introduce them to this feeling during bath or shower time. Instead of completely shielding their face with a towel, let them splash a little bit of water on their face — always under your careful supervision. When they get to the pool, they'll remember this feeling.
Pick a Cool Suit
Give your child some power in this situation. They may not get to pick how the water feels or whether they float right away or not, but they can select their suit. Take a trip to the store and let your child pick out the swimsuit they want. It may seem simple, but giving them this decision can provide your young child with a sense of power over the situation. This can add to their comfort level and can put them at ease.
Meet the Teacher
You took your child to meet their pre-k teacher before the first day of class. This helped them to relax and know what to expect. Try the same method for her swimming classes. Head out to the pool, take a look around, and talk to the teacher. Encourage your child to ask questions about what will happen during class or even what the teacher's swimming background is. Chances are your child will think it's immensely cool that their new teacher was a first-place swimmer in high school or beat the school's record for freestyle.
Above all, remember that swimming is supposed to be fun. Yes, your child needs to take the lessons seriously. There's a safety element here that they absolutely can't ignore. But they also need to understand that swimming isn't a chore, a task, or something they should feel forced to do. If they're truly resisting, find out why. The reason might be something as simple as a friend who said it was scary. Talking about the swimming lessons can make them feel better about them and get them ready for that all-important first day.