Swimming can enhance brain function, making it easier to develop social skills.
We all know that swimming provides excellent cardiovascular benefits for adults, but what can it do for our children? According to a study of 7,000 children under the age of five, those who are taught to swim show enhanced cognitive and physical abilities compared to non-swimmers.
The Griffith University study concludes that children at this age were up to 15 months further in than their non-swimming peers in mathematics and language skills. Learning to swim doesn’t just give our children a head-start, it also helps them grasp and begin to exercise the social skills they’ll need as they start school. The study also found that these young swimmers also developed social skills faster than others.
Seeing how it’s done
For children under the age of 5, weekly swimming lessons can be among the first social experiences outside the home. This instructional time fosters the natural social desire we have to relate and interact with each other. We learn by example, and few things do this better than children watching each other.
Group swimming lessons help children understand the concept of peers and can expose them to the idea of diversity. Learning to swim in a high-quality swim school is an enjoyable experience that gives positive reinforcement as children interact and learn from one another.
Children learn the benefits of two important social skills, teamwork and cooperation, even as they discover that peers can think and act differently. These are important skills they’ll use in school, at home, and later in life, as well.
There are opportunities to make new friends, as well. These relationships can continue outside the pool, as they discover other common interests. The opportunity for exposure to people outside of their nuclear family helps them to exercise sociability.
Learning to swim at an early age helps to build confidence. Learning the correct body movements to move through the water takes practice, and children feel a deep sense of accomplishment upon achievement.
Children measure their progress based on the other participants in their swimming class, so it’s important for parents to encourage their child to do their best, rather than be the best.
As they grow older, the group swimming lessons can give way to joining a swim team. Relationship-building moves to the next level, too, as children experience the responsibilities associated with teamwork, goal-setting, and competition.
Group swimming lessons provide the opportunity for young children to interact with an authority figure other than a parent. Group swimming lessons help to teach children empathy, respect, and self-control. Understanding the importance of following instructions given by a group swimming instructor is an important transferable skill as children will also have these interactions in the classroom.
Never too early to start
The Griffith University study is groundbreaking in that it shows the cognitive and social benefits of teaching young children to swim. It also helps us to understand how this sets the foundation of wellbeing throughout life. Kids who learn to enjoy being active early on are likely to remain active and healthy.
At Ocaquatics, we offer group swimming lessons for children as young as six months. All our programs for children focus on “SAFER 3.” We offer lessons year-round, so it’s never too late to sign up. Please contact us if you are ready for your little one to begin their journey of how to be safer around water.