Swimming, whether in the pool or at the beach, is a pivotal activity for a child’s development.
The benefits of swimming extend to other areas of life and allow kids to socialise, play and explore with their friends and family. America’s abundance of public swimming pools, lakes, ocean pools, swim clubs and beaches provides kids with ample opportunity to learn to swim.
Below are the top 10 reasons you should invest in teaching your child to swim. We encourage you to take advantage of the fitness and fun that comes with swimming!
(Related: Best Life Jackets For Toddlers).
1. More Confidence
Confidence is a critical ability that all children need to develop to lead happy, fulfilling lives. For some personality types, this can be challenging.
It can be especially tough for children who experience anxiety around water, often caused by a frightening experience or your anxiety about water expressed to them as a parent.
Water confidence can be relatively intuitive for children with proper support.
For children, learning to swim will:
- Reassure them that they can explore water safely.
- Develop their confidence by expanding their comfort zone.
- Push their boundaries in a controlled environment.
- Equip them with a fun new talent and a socialising tool.
If your child is too young to swim independently, they must remain in your view. Kids can quickly become excited and lose control of the water.
IMPORTANT! Always attend to children when they are swimming and follow these safety tips.
2. Improved Focus
Teaching a child to focus is vital to helping them lead successful lives, particularly in an age of instant gratification and social media. Swimming is a skill that can assist, as it requires coordination and listening.
Physical activity skills benefit kids by:
- Expending extra energy.
- Honing self-discipline sills.
- Developing focus and determination.
- Improving fitness.
For evidence-backed tips on improving a child’s focus through acitivty, read here.
3. Higher Cognitive Performance
Exercise is also proven to help boost cognitive performance in children and adults. In addition to improved focus, the brain runs more efficiently when the body exercises.
How does this work?
- The brain is an organ that requires blood flow like the rest of the body.
- When you spend large amounts of time sitting (the way children do in classrooms), blood tends to move downward and settle at the feet.
- Raising the heart rate and moving limbs can increase circulation and send blood back to the brain, boosting cognitive performance.
Swimming allows you to teach your child about the human body and anatomy.
EXPERT TIP. Consider including fun and simple diagrams on how muscles and bones work together or how the lungs function when swimming. We love these ideas.
4. Improved Social Skills
Communication is a vital skill we need to live in the world.
Learning to swim allows your child to improve social skills – mainly if this is through an instructor or group class.
When it comes to encouraging socials skills, remember the following:
- Anxieties: Kids will find socialising much easier when they feel confident in their abilities. Pool parties and days at the beach shouldn’t bring on feelings of anxiety – knowing they will be able to keep up will help your child to feel excited.
- Questions: Children will naturally want to ask questions and find new games they can play in the water. A great benefit of swimming is the exploration and connection of meeting new friends.
- Incentives: It can be helpful to incentivise kids to enjoy swimming lessons with plenty of rewards. Offer frequent praise and challenges to get them interested in practising.
IMPORTANT! Never underestimate the challenge of learning something new and frightening. Children should be encouraged to share how they felt and what they learnt after swim lessons.
Other ways to improve your child’s social skills are here.
5. Alternatives For Kids With Asthma
Swimming is a superior exercise for the body due to its low impact on bones and joints. It can also be excellent for people with asthma and lung health.
How does this work?
- Swimming improves the pace of breathing by training your inhale/exhale timing.
- It improves fitness in a humid environment, which benefits people with asthma.
- Sports that let cold, dry air into the lungs, like running, can exacerbate asthma symptoms.
IMPORTANT! Whilst exercise can strengthen lung function, it can also trigger an asthma attack. We recommend you always keep a close eye on any child with asthma, no matter their exercise.
6. Improved Physical Fitness
Although a child’s caloric intake and expenditure should not be cause for concern, it’s never too soon to establish healthy fitness habits.
Healthy habits are modelled from your behaviour as a parent, both in and out of the house.
Kids should learn from a young age that exercise can be fun and essential to their long-term health. The good news is that most children love playing in the water and are happy to do so for hours.
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for multiple reasons:
- It works the entire body – all muscle groups are involved.
- It supports cardiovascular fitness and cognition.
- It can improve flexibility and strength at the same time.
- It can be fun and exploratory – encourage kids to find new shells, meet new friends or create imaginary water worlds
7. It’s Affordable
There’s no getting around the fact that raising children is expensive, and finding extracurricular activities that are both fun and affordable can be a challenge.
Luckily, swimming does not always have to be in a traditional setting. It can be a fun outing on a small budget.
Many public pools or recreation centres have a small entry fee ($5-10) that allows you to stay for the entire day. You can arrange weekly, monthly or family memberships too.
(Related: Best Pool Floats For Babies & Toddlers).
8. Higher Quality Sleep
Getting the kids to sleep can be quite a battle! A long day of swimming is sure to do the trick – for both you and them.
Sleep is a critical part of a child’s development.
Many studies show that a lack of deep sleep leads to irritability, inability to focus, and even memory loss. Kids who have an adequate sleep also have stronger immune systems.
How does swimming improve sleep?
- The energy expenditure from swimming will help relax the body later in the day.
- The social aspect of swimming requires energy and focus, which can be exhausted by the end of the day.
IMPORTANT! Be sure to complete a swimming session at least 90 minutes before bedtime, so the body has time to relax, and kids can eat and digest their dinner.
9. Better Mood
Plenty of things can ruin a little person’s day, but a consistently poor attitude could reflect the fact that your child has a need that isn’t being met.
It’s essential to show compassion and attempt to understand why your child is upset, irritable, angry or hurt.
IMPORTANT! Infrequent physical exercise can lead to restless behaviour in your child.
Physical movement helps mood by:
- Regulating hormones, plus releasing chemicals like endorphins that help a child to feel content and at ease.
- Lowering blood pressure.
- Although you may not consider a child’s life very stressful, they can get overwhelmed just as easily as adults – exercise is a stress-reliever!
Fun, exciting exercises like these can help children release tension and connect with their playful side. Swimming allows kids to socialise and take a break from their routines.
10. Increased Safety
The best prevention for tragic accidents like drowning is ensuring your children have the skills to protect themselves in times of danger.
The good news is that most children will become accustomed to swimming incredibly quickly, even at a very young age.
The recommended age to start swimming lessons is 4.
However, some start as young as six months.
EXPERT TIP! If your child isn’t thrilled with making a splash, you can help them learn the life-saving floating technique to keep them above water.
You never know when you might encounter an open body of water, or your children might wander and find one. Even if you don’t live near a lake or have a pool, equipping kids with the right mindset around water safety is essential.
Final Words On Benefits Of Swimming For Kids
Swimming should be at the top of your list if you are looking for a fun, affordable activity that the entire family can enjoy.
Swimming is one of the best skills you can teach your child to ensure a lifetime of safety and happiness. It improves overall health, fitness, immunity, cognition, and social skills.
Time to get paddling!