Many Cleveland-area families enjoyed summer days at the beach or pool over the past few months. Maybe your kids even made some progress on their swim and water safety skills during the summer. Even though beach and pool season is coming to a close here in Northeast Ohio, the experts caution that families should NOT put away their swimsuits and goggles quite yet.
Year-round swimming has many obvious benefits for kids. This lifelong skill provides kids with an outlet for exercise and, of course, teaches the very important skill of water safety. However, beyond those obvious advantages, there are a number of developmental benefits that come with consistent, year-round swim instruction that help young children (who need lots of physical and mental stimulation!) reach developmental milestones much more quickly. Here are a few reasons to keep your little ones in the pool this fall.
- Develop fine and gross motor skills. Swimming lessons provide a technical, whole body form of exercise, so kids who regularly practice movements such as the simultaneous kicking of arms and legs, paddling, breath work, and strokes improve overall coordination (hand eye, grasping), concentration and focus, and balance.
- Enhance intellectual and emotional development. In a multi-year study from The German Sports College Cologne, young children who swam year-round were more confident and independent than their non-swimming counterparts. They fared better socially and academically, displaying superior problem solving and communication skills.
- Build brain power. Studies are showing that swimming is wonderful for kids’ brain health. A four-year Early Years Swimming Research Project (with 45 swim schools in Australia, New Zealand and the United States) found that children younger than 5 years old who had swim lessons were more advanced in their cognitive and physical development. This is because the bilateral cross-patterning movement (where you use both sides of the body to carry out an action) performed in swimming develops more nerve fibers in the part of the brain that connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain — which affects cognition, ease of learning, gross motor skills, and overall academic performance.
- Help foster independence. Formal instruction teaches kids how to take turns, listen, share and cooperate in a group setting. These activities promote comfort and confidence in the water and, in turn, build self-esteem and the ability to try and adapt to new things.
- Have fun! Swimming should be a fun activity for kids of all ages. It is important that children have a positive experience in the pool. Swim lessons should include the opportunity to play games, interact with peers and learn to love (and be safe in) the water.
All of the wonderful benefits of swimming come with time and repetition. Consistent, year-round swim lessons are the best way to achieve that result.
By Sonali Morris, a mother of two competitive swimmers and the owner of Goldfish Swim School Cleveland East Side and Goldfish Swim School Fairview Park. Goldfish Swim School is also now open in Hudson! Goldfish Swim School provides swim instruction to children ages 4 months to 12 years in a unique setting with highly trained instructors, small class sizes (max 4:1 student-teacher ratio), shiver-free 90-degree pools, and a state-of-the-art water purification system. For more information, visit goldfishswimschool.com.