Sunday, April 15, 2012

Aqua Kid!

Dumpling has been swimming since more than 1.5 years ago. This is one skill that the man and I are very insistent on. We started Dumpling when she was young so that she does not develop any fear of water. Having started her at a younger age, I do get questions if it actually makes any difference. To me "yes" but this is dependant on what you truly want as a parent. I do not habour any expectations for swimming, I just need her to be able to swim.

Here's my answers to some of the common questions. :)

- So what's the pros of starting young?
To date, Dumpling has not displayed a fear of water as compared to some older kids who started later. My rationale to start young is that some kids develop fears when they are older and the fear of water is one of them. So I wanted to start when she was still enjoying water.

She did go through a period where she was not as confident in diving into and leaping off the platform to swim to us. So I am really happy to see how she is coming into her own and how her confidence has built up slowly.

Additionally, being a FTWM, I wanted to have activities where there is more bonding between the toddler her and me so this suited us just fine.

- What are the cons?
The parent must be realistic because when they start so young, one is not able to see the "results" so soon in terms of technical skills. But you will be able to see better coordination skills and general confidence. In addition, it also trains the child to take instructions and develop listening skills.

And of course, when you start younger, you will end up paying for the swimming fees earlier too. :)

- What are the things to look out for in choosing a swim school?
There are a lot of personal reasons why I chose the current swimming place. Distance is definitely one because I did not intend for this to be over in just a term or two so venue is an important factor for me.

Additionally, I wanted somewhere with a heated pool. This is the Chinese mum in me talking because on rainy days (classes still continue unless there is lightning) the water can get cold and I did not want Dumpling to catch a cold.

- What are the things then to look out for in an instructor?
There is quite a bit of differerence in a swimming coach for older and younger children. For Dumpling, there was a change of instructor recently. We toughed it out for a while but unfortunately, his style did not really work for Dumpling and the "chemistry" is not there. The coach was very experienced with older kids but I personally felt that he did not engage that well with the younger group of children.

So chemistry, energy and genuine passion for children would be the 3 things I think are important.

- We have never brought our child for swimming before, what prep work can we do?
An early introduction to water is always good. Bring your child to a wading pool or water play area to get them comfortable with it. Get them to kick, splash, etc. in the pool.

If the swimming school specialises in teaching young children, they would have songs, "props" and tools to engage them. Dumpling's school has a "magic" mat and a slide which are 2 of her favorite things when she was loads younger. So do not be overly worried, the school knows what to do. :)

And for me, I "prepped" Dumpling a few days before the lesson by explaining to her what would happen and that there will be someone teaching us. I also assured her that I would be in the water with her. (The classes are accompanied classes since the kids are young).

Lastly, I know that neck floats are very popular with the younger children and I think that is fine. Just to share, one of the most important things for the child when they swim is to be able to float up and look downwards. The children, by instinct and also because the muscles are not developed yet, tend to "walk" instead of float. So, once the child is comfortable with water and are older, I would suggest to do away with the neck float.

- Alright, I am keen to start so what should I do?
Register for a trial and see if your child likes it. Watch how the coach engages your child and see if you are comfortable with his/her style. Dumpling takes a while to warm up to strangers so I took that into consideration too. Some children may cry and that actually is quite common but you will be in the best position to judge if it is because there is no chemistry or that the child needs more time.

Dumpling was on the wait list at her current school for months because the weekend classes are always full. So if you can do weekdays, it is always a better choice (less crowded too). But if you can't, early planning is always good.

Lastly, just enjoy the process. Swimming is a wonderful exercise: great for muscles development, coordination as well as confidence building. I love watching how much Dumpling enjoys her session and how much more confident she has become in the water too! :)

*note: please ensure that you are in the pool at all times with your child for safety reasons unless you are told otherwise by the swim coach (as your child may be older). These are my personal thoughts so if you have other questions, do check with the respective swimming schools / coaches


  1. Totally agree with this, especially the distance & chemistry parts:). Mind u ask, where is this swimming school? I'm actually shopping one for my girl. TIA.

  2. Of course I dont mind you asking. :) But can you drop me an email? Will share with you via email instead

  3. Thanks Alicia. Think I got the answer from SMB;). It is a little far from us, but good to know that there is heated pool in Sg. Thanks again.


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