By Jocelyn Houston
As a parent the winter season is not the easiest time of year. It’s cold, the holidays have left you exhausted, it’s cold, school’s back in session, and have I mentioned it’s cold?? It’s easy to find yourself fantasizing about warm weather, cool dips in the pool, and trips to the lake with the family when all you feel like you’re doing is recycling your indoor activities and starting warm weather countdowns.
In an attempt to break up the monotonous cold, my husband and I booked a family getaway to Florida in February. My kids are still really little (4 ½ and 20 months) and I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can safely let them enjoy pool time while we’re there. I know it takes years of practice, but having them in swim lessons at the YMCA is one way I’m preparing them to be in water safely and confidently.
The YMCA of Greater Omaha recently updated their swim lessons at all nine Omaha area locations to help swimmers of all ages and skills develop a lifelong love of swimming. I know what you’re thinking – is that what all swim lessons do? And while the answer’s yes, there is something that puts the new YMCA swim curriculum in the front of the pack.
My 4 ½ year old son has been in YMCA swim lessons since he was 18 months old. He’s a firecracker who loves anything active, so he’s always done well in swim lessons. However, this last fall the Downtown YMCA implemented the new swim curriculum and I immediately noticed a positive difference not only in his swimming skills, but in his attitude toward water safety. Here’s what I love about the new YMCA swim curriculum and why it matters to a parent:
1. Water Safety Comes First
One of the first skills YMCA swimmers learn is to ask permission to be in the water, a safety fundamental. I’ve tested this on my son a number of times and he always answers this correctly. Because he’s such a rambunctious kid, it’s put my mind at ease knowing he knows he must have a lifeguard present and ask that lifeguard and his parents if he can get in the water.
2. Continued Parent Communication
YMCA certified instructors keep parents informed with continued and open communication. The report cards they send throughout the lessons are great for my husband and I, since we split the activity calendar and both of us aren’t present for lessons. I’m more of a doggy-paddler than a swimmer, so being able to track my son’s progress helps me better understand where his skills lie, and also help a lot with dinnertime conversation.
3. Activity & Game-Based Curriculum
If there’s anything we know as parents, it’s that games can make anything fun! Picking up toys? Make it a game. Emptying the dishwasher? Game. You get the gist. In YMCA swim lessons, skills are presented to the kids through fun activities, making lessons an enjoyable experience for everyone! This is a game-changer (pun intended.) I’m not a strong swimmer today because I hated swim lessons growing up. I always felt like I was lagging behind and the last one to complete the skills.
4. Extending Lessons Beyond the Pool
Obviously, not everyone has a pool available at home to allow for practicing swim skills outside of lessons. However, the instructors are proactive in making sure every student is set up for success with a library of home activities available to help parents guide children through additional activities.
5. Top Notch, Certified Instructors
Kids are tough critics. They aren’t going to have fun unless they enjoy their instructor. Luckily, the YMCA swim instructors aren’t only kid-approved, but parent-approved too! Every class is taught by a YMCA Swim Lesson certified instructor (in addition to CPR, O2, First Aid, and AED certification.) These instructors are dedicated to building strong and safe swimmers, all while having fun.
Swim lessons are one of my favorite extracurriculars for our kids because I know they’re learning a life-saving skill that will open doors of opportunities for them throughout their lives…and they’re having a ton of fun while they do it! The great thing about a YMCA membership is we have access to all the YMCA of Greater Omaha locations’ family swim times and can spend time playing in the water too.
I can’t wait for our tropical getaway, kids in tow, when I get to see their new swimming skills in action. Can we start a countdown to shorts and sandals yet?
The YMCA of Greater Omaha offers swim lessons for all ages and abilities. Learn more at metroymca.org/swim