Using the swimming pool is a means to develop many skills, such as co-ordination, strength, stability and social skills. Emphasis should not be placed on whether the child can ‘breast stroke’ or ‘crawl’ up and down the pool, but rather on having fun.
Remember, the main aim is for him/her to enjoy being in the water. Make a mental list of all the things that you want to achieve in the water, so that you don’t find yourself standing around and getting cold.
If it is your first few attempts getting the child started in swimming, don’t be too disappointed if he/she refuses to get into the water. Don’t force the child; just let him/her watch from the side. Never try to shame the child by comparing them unfavorably with other children.
If balance is poor, let the child sit down to remove his/her clothes, as the slippery floor may compromise them further. Fold clothes as they are taken off and put them in a pile. This means that they will be in the right order to put them back on again afterwards. When dressing after the session, use talcum powder (provided that you do not have an allergy to it) to make putting clothes back on easier.
Entering the pool
Sit on the side of the pool with the child’s feet resting on the trough. (Have an adult stand in front of you already in the water). Encourage the child to put both hands on one side of his/her body and turn over on to their front. Next, slide down into the water resting the hands on the trough or handrail. This way the steps are not used and the arms will be strengthened at the same time.
Equipment for beginners
Arm Bands: These are useful for safety, making the child feel at ease and allowing for some freedom of movement. The biggest disadvantage is that children can quickly become reliant upon them and then become reluctant to take them off. Some experts advise not using them altogether. The best type to buy is the inflatable ones with double chambers and safety valves.
Aqua Packs: These are inflatable packs which strap to the back. The pressure of the water can force the pack up round the neck and they tend to make the child swim vertically.
Floats: Polystyrene swimming boards are useful for encouraging horizontal movement in the water.