Gamify Swim Lessons: 3 Games to Engage Children and Reinforce Water Safety
Children retain more when they have fun!
Gamification. It’s a big thing with business right now. Get people to learn and participate by making that education fun and adding the element of competition. Sound familiar? Sure, that’s the most successful way to teach kids. It’s why kids educational venues like Sesame Street – whose business entity is known as Sesame Workshop – generated $121.6 million in revenue in 2016.
Making learning fun by turning it into a competitive game is an effective way to teach children how to be safer around water. It takes concepts and turns them into enjoyable ways to learn by placing them into a child’s perspective.
Edutopia, the educational foundation founded by George Lucas (yes, the creator of Star Wars), notes that physical activity help attention-challenged students stay focused. Teaching children to swim is all about physical activity, and it compels their attention.
The foundation promotes the importance of teaching children what paying attention means and what it looks like. Again, many of the concepts of safety – including being aware of surroundings and paying attention – are new to young minds. They need help in putting these ideas into their worldview.
One of the most important messages we can take away from this educational foundation is understanding a child’s capacity to maintain focus and attention. It’s about two to five minutes for each year of their age – which means that an average six-year-old learning to swim or about how to be safer around water may only be able to concentrate on that information for 12 to 30 minutes.
Keeping it fun
Children just learning to swim have multiple things vying for their attention. They may still be adjusting to being in the water. Breath-holding and remembering stroke styles may not yet have become set habits. Their limited attention spans mean they can easily become frustrated or distracted.
It’s why injecting fun into learning to swim and practicing water safety is extremely important. Here are three tried-and-true pool games that can help:
Who wouldn’t love to be Superman? Gaining comfort underwater is easy to teach when you explain to children that they can glide, just like Superman, by pushing off the pool wall with their feet. The exercise helps to teach breath control and body coordination, too. We also call this hand sandwich in our lessons!
Leg-kicking to propel in swim strokes can be a challenge for some children as they learn limb coordination. Help them by associating it with an aquatic version of “Red Light, Green Light.” Hearing “Green Light” means kicking and propelling as fast as they can. “Red Light” means it’s time to stop where they are and note how far they moved compared to others. The important part of this exercise is “Yellow Light,” which means to kick slowly – which helps children to focus on body movement and limb coordination. You might see this activity in our Junior Swim Team classes.
Underwater maneuvering is a skill that can frustrate some children, causing them to lose interest in learning how to swim. The key is to make this fun by introducing gamification and its element of competition. Place submerged and easy-to-grasp items on the shallow end of the pool bottom. The challenge is to retrieve as many as possible. Encourage children to work in teams. This helps them understand the concept of cooperation. Watching a partner who has mastered breath-holding and underwater swimming can help children learn it, as well.
Making water safety education enjoyable
Think back to when you were a kid. Life was full of rules and regulations with consequences for not following them. It almost seemed as if the world was nothing but a stream of “don’t do this” and “don’t do that.”
How often did an adult take the time to explain – in a way that your young mind could grasp it – why it was important to follow these rules? One of the main objectives of gamification is to help children understand the relevance of what they’re learning and expected to do.
It’s easy to integrate this idea into teaching children to be safer around water. Just remember to turn it into a relatable story. Inject it with a “why.”
At Ocaquatics, we offer swim lessons for all ages including babies, toddlers, pre-school and school-age children. If you want to learn more about our wide variety of group swimming lessons, reach out to our team today by phone at 305-969-SWIM (7946) or through our online contact form.