The pace of the instruction needs to be slow, letting each child learn new skills when he or she is ready. A good teacher is someone who is both enthusiastic and patient, and makes swimming fun and interesting for these young students by incorporating sensually stimulating toys, games, and songs into water activities.
The group class is a good choice for children of this age, as they can learn from one another and enjoy the social interaction at the same time. This format is often referred to as "parent and tot" classes, and it serves as a good opportunity for moms and dads to socialize as well as their children. Learning swimming skills as a group generates an overall sense of support and unity but also allows for individual progress and development.
Sometimes parents may prefer private instruction where the parent and child work together with the teacher. While this can be an effective way to learn water skills, one must ensure that the child does not feel pressured and above all still has fun. The teaching method used must be leisurely paced and "baby-friendly" and the length of the lesson should be no longer than a half-hour.
Not only is it much safer for young children to learn with a parent alongside them, but it also makes the strange, new world of water seem less intimidating if mom or dad is close by, it also serves as great bonding experience between parent and child. The parent is also better able to gauge the aquatic abilities of their child so they can later work with him or her at home and practice these new skills.
The temperature of the pool and the surrounding air also make a difference to the comfort level and performance of these young swimmers. Warm water, ideally between 90 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit, is most conducive to making babies feel at ease when they are in it. The air temperature should be warmer than 80 degrees. Baby-sized wetsuits and swim-caps can also be helpful in maintaining body warmth.
In terms of class frequency, at the introductory level, it is recommended that children attend four classes each week for the first month of instruction. Once basic water adjustment and breath control has been grasped, this number can be reduced somewhat to about two classes per week. If such frequent attendance is challenging to the schedules of parents, they can encourage the child to practice their new water skills at home during bath-time.
Parents need to make sure they are choosing the right swim program for their child before enrolling him or her. Talking to other mothers and fathers who are taking their children to lessons and then checking out any classes they recommend in person is the most reassuring way to find out if the program and teacher make the grade.
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