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Pool Toys to Practice Swimming Skills at Home

The desert heat is on its way, and every Arizona parent knows what that means—pool time! While your first thought may be about reopening your backyard paradise for the sunny months ahead, a very close second should be how to keep your kiddos safe in and around the water.

With swim classes across the valley filling up quickly, we reached out to Kerin Morgan, Aquatic Support Expert, at Aqua-Tots Swim Schools to learn more about what families should have on hand to support swimming skills at home.

“Toys create a less threatening way to introduce some of the properties of water,” says Kerin. “They are tactile, colorful, and, if used correctly, enhance the learning experience.”

It’s important to note that inflatable floaties or water wings should be avoided as they pose a tremendous risk to a child’s safety. These toys are easily removable, provide a false sense of security, deflate easily, and prevent proper swimming techniques.

When purchasing tools to support safe swimming, here are five items that compliment swim lessons:

  1. Squirty Fish: This colorful creature is a buoyant toy and used at the surface of the water. Tots learn to reach for and focus on the fish, and this focal point is helpful as parents teach their future swimmers to go underwater. As children progress, the squirty fish is used to teach about buoyancy so they learn to associate air in the object with the breath in their lungs. If Mr. Fishy holds his air, he floats. If he blows it out, he sinks.
  2. Diving Rings: These are sinking toys that help children learn that not everything floats or holds air, and these objects go down to the bottom of the pool. Children begin to see that their view of the toy down below is different than on land, and they can get used to the feeling of reaching and grabbing for something underwater. We want children to be comfortable in deep water, and this is where they can feel deeper depths and learn how the water can pick them up.
  3. Noodle & Connector: When learning to swim, a child needs to understand that they have limitations and don’t swim safely until they have skills. Pool noodles with connectors on the ends place the responsibility of floating on the parent and the child, instead of depending on wearable inflatable toys, such as water wings. The child has a responsibility to hold the toy and the parent has the responsibility to watch them closely. This ensures the child is practicing manipulating their movements in the water and learning to propel.
  4. Kickboard: While kickboards get a lot of attention, children should wait to use them until they have developed core strength and know how to independently propel five to six feet underwater. The skills associated with kickboards are usually learned when a child is older than four, and if you give a kickboard to a child too early, they will fall off. Older children are learning to swim horizontally in the water and get their own air, making the balance of the kickboard more developmentally appropriate.
  5. Goggles: Our goal is that everyone eventually learns to swim without goggles, however, the learn-to-swim process can be unsettling for small children. Developing so many new skills with closed eyes only magnifies their anxiety, and goggles can help calm unnecessary nerves. Later, when they have learned to trust the water and their skills, we teach them to open their eyes without goggles because all children should know what to do if they ever fall in the water unexpectedly. Additionally, swimming for longer than 30 minutes without goggles can cause eye irritation, and with so many swimming memories to be made, we want their eyes crystal clear to capture all the splishy-splashy moments!

Founded in 1991 and headquartered in the Phoenix area, Aqua-Tots Swim Schools is making waves as the largest international provider of year-round, indoor swim instruction. With more than 150 locations in 14 countries, its trusted program is dedicated to children of all abilities from four months to 12 years old,and features a proven curriculum used to teach more than five million swim lessons each year. For more information about Aqua-Tots visit aqua-tots.com



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