Sink or Swim-- Learning To Swim

I find that there are some life skills that my kids really need to teach themselves.

I try to help and give advice but there are some things that I just can not do for them.  Swimming is one skill that comes to mind.  I can model swimming.  I can explain how they need to move their hands and feet.  I can even encourage them to hold their breath; but there isn't much I can do make them actually swim.

My older two boys taught themselves to swim (with me close by) and it's now time for Evan to try.  Living on a lake they have tons of opportunities for swimming and can even practice swimming where they can touch.  One of the best ways for kids to learn to swim to have plenty of time to practice all those small skills.

We did not do any school work or activities today since we headed to our friends' house to play in their pool and socialize.   The boys had a blast and Evan tried to swim.

 He had a huge fear of the water last summer.  He refused to go into any body of water where he could not touch but, slowly as the nice weather has come, he's getting over this fear.  

As much as I wanted Evan to learn to swim last year I knew that he could not as long as he was afraid of the water.  So we waited until he was quite comfortable with being in the water and showed signs of wanting to learn how to swim.  In the meantime we always made sure he was wearing a life jacket when he was in or near the water.

This year he started jumping into the pool at my sister in laws house with his life jacket on-- both in the shallow end and the deep end.  This was huge!

He has since started jumping off the end of our dock and practicing swimming into shore; again with his life jacket on.  His life jacket gives him confidence but I have noticed that it hinders his ability to really use his arms.

Well, today I didn't bring his life jacket.  We have a learn- to- swim float that I used with my other two boys to help them swim.  It has a front and a back float piece that holds the children up while also leaving their arms free to move in a natural swimming motion.  I love that it has layers of float material that you can remove one at a time as they get better at keeping themselves afloat until pretty soon there's nothing left and they're swimming confidently.
Evan complained and grumbled quite a bit that I didn't bring his life jacket.

There were 9 kids in the pool and with all the jumping the waves got pretty big.  He was upset that he had to work harder to keep his head up and his mouth closed.

But he was moving his hands and feet, he was keeping his head above water and he was practicing putting his face in the water.

By lunchtime I was hot enough to want to go in and cool off myself.  Evan had no float on and was playing toys on the pool deck.  He came in with me and while I was holding him up trying to work on swimming he pushed my hands away and wanted to try swimming with nothing else holding him up.

He sank.

But since he was right in arms reach I pulled him right back up.  He came up smiling and tried again!

While it will take him many more tries to be able to swim completely unaided I was so excited that he was not only willing to try but to try repeatedly.  He'll continue to learn and piece together what it is exactly that he needs to do and pretty soon he'll be swimming all around.

Just like his brothers.

I've learned that for me to teach my boys to swim they just need time, patience, lots of monitoring, and lots of practice.


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