I have to admit that I rarely find the time to take N swimming for fun. With classes on a Saturday after lunch and working full time, there’s only a Sunday left, so it’s a case of putting in time over the summer holidays when classes have finished.
Much as I see lessons as crucial for children (especially when you hear about the proportion of older primary school children who can’t swim), there also has to be a fun element to going swimming.
We swim at a small private school pool. It’s great even on their open sessions as it’s mostly empty, but it’s a bit boring as a pool. Just one pool, it’s quite dark, the changing rooms are communal and small, and there’s no exciting ‘play’ areas for children.
So what are my tips for making swimming fun outside lessons?
1. Go to a different pool
So when we go for out of lesson swimming, we tend to go to the big leisure centre in town. It’s newly built, is really light and bright, and there’re two pools (main and trainer pools). It also has a fun children’s area with buttons to press to make water spout out in waterfalls and sprays. Even the changing rooms are more exciting for a toddler – individual cubicles and family rooms, big lockers and lights. Going to a different pool will give them confidence that they can swim anywhere, but also help them understand not to get complacent with safety as not all pools are the same.
2. Have swimming toys to take along and play with
As N’s still not an independent swimming yet, I still take along our woggle and float for him to practice with. Not all pool sessions have the equipment out for the children to play with so I think it’s definitely worth checking out the wide selection of swimming aids in shops or online to take along. Just make sure you write names on them so they don’t get taken off by someone else by mistake (or on purpose!)
3. Try something new.
It’s great to practice some of the activities you do in classes, especially if you’ve got a toddler like N who doesn’t necessarily have the confidence to want to do his own thing and take off on his own. Doing the regular activities will help settle them, especially if they do them on autopilot where they can also have a nosy round at all the other swimmers at the same time. But I always try and gauge what others of his age are doing, to see if I can get ideas from them on things to try. I’m not sure we’re quite at the stage of tipping him over in somersaults, but never say never in the future!
4. Let the child choose what they want to do
Within reason obviously, but N often takes the lead when we go swimming outside our Water Babies lessons. In classes he has to listen and watch, but at the leisure centre, he can choose whether to go in the trainer pool or to have a go in the main pool, whether to sit on the side, or jump in and swim. He’s also quite particular about when he wants to wear his goggles. We opted for some fairly plain ones for him recently in the hope of him being more comfortable going underwater on the recommendation of others at our classes, but there are some great fun swimming goggles for adults and children around. Anything to make things more exciting, especially if you’ve got a child that wants to practice in the bath at home.
5. Go with friends and family
I keep meaning to arrange for us to go swimming with his youngest cousin. They both swim at the same pool, although his cousin has normal swimming lessons there as he’s 5, but I always think it’d be great for them both to swim together and muck around. It’s great for the younger ones to learn from what the older ones do and enjoy as well. Hopefully during the Christmas holidays we’ll manage that.
Do you agree with my ideas for making swimming fun? What would you add?
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All writing and opinions are my own.