Every kid should do swimming lessons whether they are typical, autistic, ADHD, learning different, active or a couch potato. Swimming lessons can save a life and swimming is a great, healthy hobby. But those aren’t why I am telling you to send your kid to lessons. My reasons are all about what it does for your child outside the water.
Swimming Lessons Encourage Brain Development
When a child swims she uses her arms, legs, neck, and head. At the same time, she has to control her breathing, which is usually automatic. This makes her brain create all kinds of new wiring to do all those things at once. That wiring will stay there, connecting the left side to the right side. When she wants to play an instrument or catch a ball or do complex word problems in math class, her brain will be more prepared. The breath control works with the most basic part of the brain, which controls reflexes and impulses. It will help your child control herself better in lots of other situations too.
Swimming Lessons Build Body Strength and Coordination
You can’t swim without using both your arms and your legs, but you are also using your stomach, back, and neck muscles. Your child will be stronger from head to toe. This will help her succeed at every other activity in her life from riding a bike, playing sports, and sitting still in class.
Swimming Lessons Help Build Sensory Integration and Body Awareness
Every minute your child is in the water, her body is being pushed on from every angle by the water. That provides a pressure that helps her have a stronger awareness of where her toes and fingers are and every inch in between. That awareness will help her overall body coordination, from the large muscles needed to walk a straight line to the tiny ones used for handwriting and typing.
I have tried to put my kids in swimming lessons for two weeks every summer at our local YMCA or rec center. There are tons of places to do private lessons, but the Red Cross certified classes have been great for my kids. You can find swimming lessons on the Swim Classes & Lessons page
on the Red Cross website.
But what if your kid has a reason swim lessons just aren’t possible?
If your child has …
Your child will get the physical activity and input from the water to help him focus and sit still after swimming lessons are over. Right after lessons would be a great time to have some quiet reading time with your child. The actual lessons may go much better than you expect too because your child is getting the extra sensory input from the water during the lesson.
Kids with autism will benefit greatly from the increased body awareness and strengthening swimming provides. You may want to consider private lessons if your child has difficulty dealing with the noise of a large class.
Your child needs strengthening as much as any child, and if necessary can repeat the same level of swimming lessons multiple times before progressing. Many children need to take a level repeatedly to be able to continue to the next. Taking a Level 1 swimming class a few times still gives your child the great experience of swimming.
The strengthening and coordination gained through swimming will be great for your child. If your child is very weak or has significantly limited use of one or more limbs, consider private lessons. Screen for a teacher who is excited to work with your child.
A Fear of Water
For a child who is truly afraid of the water, swimming lessons need to be carefully considered. The best parenting move may be to take your child to the pool yourself. Let the child wear a life jacket and become more comfortable with the water before attempting lessons. If your child is under six years old try a Preschool Level 1 class. These often include a lot of play time and gives children a gentle introduction to the water.
These are just some of the reasons why I love swimming lessons for kids. I hope you find a way to incorporate swimming into your summer.