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What is the Right Age to Learn Swimming?


This blog post has been contributed by Parenting Matters (http://parentingmatters.in/), a Chennai-based organisation which partners with parents to build skillsfor deeper connection in families. It provides platforms for parents to learn together with input from trained facilitators. It conducts programs, workshops and also aims at spreading awareness on parenting through articles for magazines, talks with experts and its blog. This blog has been written by R. Sunitha, Facilitator, Parenting Matters.

We always assume that at a certain age one should learn to do specific things, or else one would never be able to learn these things in the future and would be left behind. We think the same for our children.

When my children- twins- a boy and a girl, were five years old I enrolled them for a swimming class. They were so frightened. My son fell sick after 2 days and could not continue with the class. My daughter was stuck to the wall of the pool all through the 15 days. She would hide when the master came to pull the kids out. It broke my heart to see them struggle.

At the same time, my nephew also joined swimming. Though he learnt to swim in 15 days, he cried every single day. When he was thrown into that deep end of the pool he would kick and struggle and swim to the other end, terrified that he would drown.

It made me question whether it was so essential to learn to swim? Is it worth the trauma the children go through?

After that even though they never learnt to swim for a few years, I did not enrol them in any class.

When they were around ten years old I conveyed my wish to see them swim. I suggested that they could get into the pool with their friends and try to learn and they might enjoy it.

Later, I found a place where they taught swimming with a tube for the first seven days. It was made compulsory to use it for those days. And voila, by the end of the week the kids lost their fear of water and were waiting to get rid of the tube! Slowly and surely they learnt to swim. There was no crying this time around.

By the end of it all, I too learnt something.  Children will learn to do things at the time when they are ready for it and when they have the need for it. If we trust them they will do it.

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ParentEdge is a bi-monthly magazine for discerning Indian parents who would like to actively contribute to their children’s education, intellectual enrichment and stimulation. The magazine’s premise is that learning is a continuous process, and needs to happen both in and outside of school; thus parents have an important role to play in shaping their children’s interests and intellect.


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