In the past, most pediatricians discouraged swimming lessons for little kids because it really wasn’t clear whether or not preschoolers, toddlers, and babies were developmentally up to the task. Not only that, they feared, the lessons could give parents a false sense of security around pools and other bodies of water.
But new research suggests that kids between the ages of one and four do benefit from swimming lessons, and now the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that families put their tots into swim school.
In a statement, the AAP wrote:
“In light of new research that has revealed that swim instruction for children 1 to 4 years of age may decrease drowning, it is reasonable for the AAP to relax its policy regarding the age at which children should start learning water-survival skills.”
Drowning is the second most common cause of death in children one to 19, and pools kill more kids than guns do. And so even parents of perfect swimmers need to be educated on the 12 ways to keep your kids safe around water. What the AAP is saying is that in addition to diligence and a multi-layer approach to drowning prevention and water safety, swimming lessons are a good idea, too.
At the Palm Beach Post, parent Carlos Frias describes watching his two-year-old daughter pass her survival swimming course “test:”
The instructor chucks my Catalina fully dressed – jacket, T-shirt, jeans and shoes with sparkles on the toes – into the deep end of the pool. She’s churning her little legs, flailing her little arms, and I find myself holding my breath while her face is under water.
Then, something incredible happens: She whips one little arm like a wounded wing and flips herself onto her back. The tiny pink jacket puffs unevenly as she spreads her arms like a starfish and floats there peacefully, like she’s relaxing on a pool chair.
Her teacher tries everything to shake her. He carries her to the edge of the pool and flips her backwards into the 6-foot-deep pool. Up she pops. He tries sitting her unevenly on the pool steps so she’ll flop over, and again she’s on her back.
“No tricking her,” my oldest daughter Elise can be heard saying on the video. “She’s always ready.”
Will this report change your mind about early swimming lessons?