This blog post about winter swim lessons has been shared to us by one of our swim school parents: Jennifer Wu. Thank you, Jennifer.
Okay parents – level with me here – how many times have you had the “What activities should we sign them up for?” discussion with your partner? As parents, there are a ton of choices we have to make when it comes to extra-curricular activities for our kids. We choose based on our schedule, our budget, and our goals for our kids. While we’d love to give them the opportunity to try out a wide variety of experiences, that’s not reality. As a mom of three, I am 100% with you on this.
Hockey, soccer, dance, gymnastics, karate, art lessons, piano, skating, robotics, drama . . . the sheer number of activities is enough to leave me and my wallet feeling totally drained. My kids are 8, 6 and 2, and they’ve bounced around to many different activities, never really committing to one. There is only one activity that we don’t give our kids a choice about. We do swimming lessons year round, regardless of weather and schedule and budget. This includes winter swim lessons!
It wasn’t always like this. We used to do lessons only in the summer, thinking that was sufficient because that was the season that we’d most likely be around water. In the past couple of years, we’ve come to some realizations and have made swimming lessons a priority for our family year-round. Let’s get into why we changed our minds.
It’s a Life Skill – Literally
While many people think of swimming as something fun you do on warm summer days or on vacation, it is truly a life skill. Water hazards aren’t limited to a backyard pool or the beach in the summer. It might be a frozen pond that isn’t quite frozen, a laundry tub, your winter tropical vacation or the community centre recreational swim.
Initially, we thought that since Grandma & Grandpa have a pool in their backyard, it was important for our kids to learn to swim to the edge even as toddlers in case they fell in. When we thought about it though, the backyard pool wasn’t the only place that they’d need their swim skills. As they got older and got more adventurous, we’ve realized that safety skills around water could come in useful in a variety of situations. Frankly, swimming is the only one of my kids’ activities or sports that may assist in saving a life – either theirs or eventually someone else’s. That is enough to make it important to our family year-round.
Consistency is Key
We’ve all heard the phrase that consistency is key, applied to so many situations in our lives. I compare the regularity of swimming lessons once a week to the gains you make in strength and endurance from going to the gym. Would you go to the gym every week for 6 months and then stop for 3 months and expect to maintain the same level of fitness?
We had this experience with my son and learned our lesson. A couple of years ago, we had Mason in lessons for the summer and fall, then took the winter swim lessons session off. We noticed a difference even from taking that one session off. His swimming skills regressed in that time, and he lost some of the strength and stamina that he had worked hard to gain. He spent the following two sessions repeating the same level in order to retrain improper technique habits and relearn skills that he had forgotten.
This could be said for any regular activity that your kids participate in. The regularity of the routine gives my kids something to look forward to, and a way to mark our weeks passing. They know their swim lessons are on the same day every week, and that predictable routine is a foundation for them. I also believe that it helps them to have goals to progress toward. I think the repetition and routine have been instrumental in developing their discipline and work ethic.
We found this to be true even for Zara, who just turned 2. We didn’t think she was old enough to develop habits or routines in the same way that our older two kids would. This past summer, we took her out of swimming lessons figuring that she’d get comfortable in the water on vacation and swimming in the backyard pool. Upon returning back to Russell Aquatics in the fall, we quickly realized that routine had been key to keeping her comfortable and confident in the water. Trust us, it was way harder to spend the first 5 weeks of the fall session hiding out of sight of our crying toddler. (Yes, that’s us on Monday nights, hiding in the kids colouring area, so come say “Hi!” if you see us). Thankfully, her wonderful instructor has handled it so well, but we could have saved ourselves a lot of heartache by maintaining our weekly swimming routine to keep her confidence level up.
We invest our hard-earned money in our kid’s activities because we want them to learn a skill, develop discipline, and get some physical activity. The bottom line is that as parents, we all want the same thing: the best for our kids. I’d love to know – what factors are important to you when choosing your kid’s activities?