Time to Play! How Does the Water Feel?

Kids learn by playing. The more you can make learning to swim fun for your kids, the more they’ll like it, the quicker they’ll learn, and the more fun you’ll have teaching them.

A critical aspect of learning to swim is getting a feel for the water and how it interacts with your body. You can make a game out of focusing on the sensory experience of moving in water. Here’s how.

How does the water feel? Does it feel…prickly? No! Slippery? Bubbly? Sparkly? Bumpy? Smooth? Silky? Soft? Rough? Sloshy? Rubbery?

The more silly, ridiculous words you can think of to describe how the water does or doesn’t feel, the better.

Did you and your kids think of any really good ones?

4 Things about Your Kid’s Body That Affect How He Learns to Swim

It’s hard to imagine that someday the kid who hasn’t even put his face underwater in the bathtub could be stepping onto the podium to accept an Olympic gold.  Safety and fun are the most likely reasons for teaching your child to swim, but just for kicks, let’s look at what goes into being a world-class swimmer.

I’m not talking about the obvious thousands of hours of practice and high-tech equipment that athletes turn into seconds shaved from their personal records, and I’m not talking about the minute details like how great swimmers sweat and spread their fingers.

I’m talking about the basics: the swimmer’s body.

What does the world-class swimmer’s body look like? Tall and lean with long arms and a long torso, big hands, and big feet. Does that sound like your child’s body? Probably not. So what are the differences that affect how he learns to swim?

4 Things about Your Kid’s Body That Affect How He Learns to Swim

1. Head Size

If he’s anything like the average, your child’s head is large compared to the rest of his body. In our early years, our limbs grow more slowly than the head and the rest of the body.

2. Lung Capacity

Kids also have less lung capacity than adults, not only overall but also relative to body mass. The ratio of total lung capacity to BMI in an average seven-year-old boy might be 1:10. In a seventeen-year-old, 1:2.5 is typical.

3. Body Mass

A kid’s body mass isn’t like an adult’s. They have a much larger surface area to mass ratio, which means they lose body heat more quickly. Often their body fat percentage is much lower than an adult’s, and this makes them less buoyant.

Their lower lung capacity and body fat percentage make floating much tougher for kids than it is for adults. They just aren’t as buoyant.

4. Rest and Recovery Needs

Those growing bodies also mean that kids need more rest than adults do. They go hard and crash hard. Rest and recovery time are important.

The better you understand what your kids are experiencing, the easier and more effective your teaching will be. Children’s bodies are different than adults’ bodies. Understanding these differences will help you to put yourself in your child’s place and respond to his needs. Responding to your kids’ needs will help to make the learning process fun and effective for all of you.

The Adorable Toddler Trick That Reveals Your Kids’ Swimming Ability

Try this cute trick. Ask a toddler how big he is. When he lifts his hands, they’ll only reach the top of his head. It’s adorable, but it makes it tougher for the little guy to propel his head-heavy body through the water than it is for an adult, even one who isn’t a world-class swimmer. Ask your child to lift his arms straight up. The farther they extend beyond the top of his head, the closer to an adult’s his body proportions—and his buoyancy and maneuverability in the water—are likely to be.

A Quick, Fun Trick to Stay Focused When You’re Teaching Your Kids to Swim

You know you have to keep your eyes on the prize: water safety, making your relationship stronger (not more frustrating or angst-ridden), and teaching your kids to associate the water and your lessons with fun and pleasure. Sometimes it’s tough to maintain that focus when things aren’t going smoothly. What do you do?

What you need is a–

Quick, Easy, Fun Way to Keep Focused on What’s Important

Write the key things you want to focus on and remember on an index card. Read the index card before every lesson.

Ask your kids to help you stay focused. Tell them that you plan to be patient and that you want them to be patient, too. Think of a code you can use if one of you forgets. How about “apple sauce” as the code for patience? Ask them to use the code if they think you’re forgetting to focus on being patient.

It may sound silly, but it works. Last Christmas, my son, who’s six, was putting ornaments on the tree. He broke one, and glass shards flew all over the room. In a rare moment of holiday spirit, I responded just right, calmly telling him that it was no big deal, it happens to everyone, it was replaceable, and that he was more important to me than any object he could possibly break. He mentioned that he wished I was always that calm when something went wrong.

Since then, “Christmas ornament” has been his code phrase to me to practice patience and put things in perspective. Not only does it never fail–and it’s put to the test a lot–but also it puts me in a grateful holiday spirit any time of the year.

You can use different code words for different aspects of attitude or different parts of the goal you want to stay focused on. If you’re starting to feel frustrated, hearing your child break out the “apple sauce” code will be enough to bring back your smile and remind you of your priorities. Safe. Fun. Happy.