There is nothing more heartbreaking than a parent finding a child unresponsive at the bottom of a pool, as a Missouri woman did last month.
It’s a tragedy that happens too often – drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death of children in the United States in children aged 1-14, according to the World Health Organization.
Because of this, swimming lessons are popular among parents of small children, especially for those with backyard pools. Along with protective barriers around pools and CPR trained parents, learning swimming and water safety rules are some practical measures parents can take to protect their children, said Kimberly Amali, one of the owners of Sunshine Swim and Fitness Center. The center offers lessons for a range of abilities and ages, starting with its parent-tot lessons for children 6 months to 3 years old.
The lessons are geared toward the skills and learning style of infants, with much of the lesson feeling more like playtime than learning. Parents hold their children in their arms, guiding their limbs and pantomiming concepts like blowing bubbles.
Tenia Ellis of Sacramento was taking lessons with her 14-month-old son Josiah McCann at Sunshine Swim and Fitness Center on Thursday, because she wanted to give her child a “head-start” in learning an important skill – a skill that is not just for recreation or exercise.
There are a variety of swimming lesson options available to parents.
Sunsational Swim School offers private lessons at their clients’ homes.
At a lesson in Lincoln recently, Kelly, a Sunsational Swim School instructor said teaching children to swim is a bit different than teaching adults. Sometimes she has to prompt her students to "use their words" and sometimes she uses bribery with the promise of treats after the lessons as a motivational tool.
But the biggest thing is patience.
Swimming students Drew, 4, and 3-year-old Delilah sometimes exhibited a wandering attention span, but Kelly kept them on track with gentle persistence, and by the end of the lessons, they’d demonstrated progress in the skills she was teaching them.
The site of the lessons, a backyard swimming pool at 4-year-old Drew’s Lincoln home, features a tall barrier with a tricky latch at the top of the gate
Lindsey Baker, the mother of 4-year-old Drew, said while the fence and adult supervision are important, swimming and water safety skills are also necessary.