Yes, we are confined to our homes during the lockdown and you might think that Swimming skills can only be learned in a pool. As the child develops more water confidence they will have more independence in the water when they get into a regular pool. They will then be ready for swim classes whether it is a Parent Toddler class for Kids under 4 years(where a parent holds the child throughout the class ) or a group class for older kids above 4 years. So here is how we go about this.
You can use a bathtub or you can get one of the Decathlon pools which needs no inflation and are also easy to empty & store later. Use the biggest size so that a parent can sit inside & hold the baby/ toddler or maybe you have two young kids and this will ensure they can play & learn together. Make sure you fill the pool with lukewarm water since kids will want to stay in for a while & their body loses heat while only half-submerged in the water. You can use soft, colorful toys, cups, floating & sinking toys to make the water play fun. Here are some things that kids can learn just by water play & familiarization.
All babies are born with a natural frog-like kicking reflex which will disappear by 12 months. After this, they might move their legs in an up and down motion(flutter kick) or even a cycling motion. It is good to encourage them to kick/move their legs (for toddlers you can sit behind them & hold them under their armpits & let their legs float up to the surface in front of them. You can then sway them lightly from side to side & this motion will help them relax and start moving their legs. You can put some colorful plastic balls near their feet & slightly older toddlers will always try to kick them which will simulate backstroke kicking.
This is something which kicks in overnight, suddenly they become afraid of submerging, some toys, shadows and even design on the pool floor(like a dolphin) will suddenly appear to be moving due to the rippling effect of the water. This is also because a big adult pool will seem like an ocean for a child that young, with no end in sight. Instead, a small space like a home toddler pool /bathtub is perfect to get them to play in the water minus the fear.
From a young age slowly build up their skills like breath control. For a small baby, water can be poured from a tiny cup first onto the shoulders, then ears, then back of the head & only then trickled onto the face. For toddlers, they can graduate to a whole mug of water being poured over the face. You can ask them to keep blinking their eyes and keep their lips closed so they don’t swallow water being poured over their face.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF WATER FAMILIARIZATION FOR TODDLERS
a) Intellectual stimulation- Toddlers are exposed to various movements, colors, words, counting& rhymes.
b) Physical stimulation- The water massages the skin & is non-weight bearing so limbs move freely.
c) Their hand-eye & foot-eye coordination and muscle tone will improve.
d) Depth and distance awareness and with this comes improved safety skills and decision making.
e) Great opportunity to have skin-to-skin time bonding with the parent and lots of eye contact especially if you get into the inflatable pool/bathtub with them.
f) Water confidence increases.
h) Improved immunity and helps keep their lungs clear.
i) Improved feel of the water which will help them ultimately learn how to swim.
IMPORTANT POINTS TO NOTE WHEN YOU ARE TRYING THIS AT HOME:
Remember to always be vigilant during any water play even if the water level is very low. Children should always be supervised by their parents or an adult throughout. Once you have finished remembering to drain the tub or toddler pool completely.
DONT OVERSTIMULATE TODDLERS
Babies get easily overwhelmed by either too much stimulation, like noise, or environmental conditions like bright sunshine or strong wind. What you can do is play some fun nursery rhymes & use soft, colorful water toys or bath books to engage the child preferably in your bathroom or any indoor covered area to reduce these issues.