Summer weekends in Melbourne are often spent cooling off at the beach or local pools. For young children, the idea of spending a day near the water is especially exciting; don’t be surprised if they’re up, dressed in their bathing suits and raring to go at 6:00am in the morning.
Perhaps most children love water play because they instinctively understand that it enhances their development. As children splash around, they improve their hand- eye coordination, their gross motor skills and their understanding of concepts like empty versus full and wet versus dry. However, before the big splash, it’s important to educate your children on water safety and ensure that there are several checks in place before they venture into the water.
Water Safety at Aurora
At Aurora Early Learning Centre, we have partnered with local swimming schools to teach our learners about water safety in ways which they will identify with and understand. We recently had the folks from the local Paul Sadler Swimland at Aurora to talk and educate the children.
With the help of ‘Swordy’ the swordfish, who helped engage our learners’ attention, we discussed why it’s important to make sure there’s a grown-up around whenever near water, to swim between flags on beaches and how to wear floatation devices. They also practised how to attract attention if they’re having trouble in the water.
While our learners were engaged and immersed in the session, it’s important to constantly reinforce water safety tips to ensure they learn it properly.
Encourage your child to always makes sure there is an adult around. before they jump into the water. Children who are below the age of three or are tentative swimmers should have ‘touch’ supervisors – adults who are always within arm’s reach. Through visual aids and dramatic actions, show your child distress hand signals several times and get them to practise them.
Supervisors should be trained in basic CPR in case of emergency. It’s advisable for parents to take swim rescue and first aid classes before they begin to introduce their child to swimming.
Recognising The Signs
Teach your child to recognise Water Safety signs that are typically prominent around beaches, lakes and rivers. Warning signs usually have a yellow background while safety signs are highlighted in green. Head to Beach Safe to know more. You should also highlight the difference between red and yellow flags on beaches; even in a red and yellow flagged area, we’d recommend you allow your child only up to where the surf breaks.
The Correct Kit
The right swimming equipment will go a long way in ensuring safety. Get coast –guard – approved life jackets as well as floatation aids which will give your child plenty of help to stay afloat.
Make sure to use plenty of sunscreen thirty minutes before you head outdoors and to wear hats and sunglasses to keep them protected while they’re not in the water.
Keeping It Engaging
The most important thing to keep in mind when educating your child on water safety is that they should be engaged and interested in what you’re teaching them. While it’s important for them to understand the seriousness of the information, they will remember it better if you throw in an element of fun.
Try familiarising them with signs using colouring sheets; get black and white print-outs of safety signs and have your children colour them in. Hang up their work on the walls as a constant reminder.
Play games which involve ‘pretend’ pools or lakes made with blue tape. Get your children to observe all the safety rules while around the ‘pool’ and reward them when they get behaviours right.
Once you’re confident that your child has safety rules and tips down pat, take them to a swimming pool which is monitored by a life guard. Reward appropriate pool behaviour with a little extra time in the water; it’ll be great motivation!
For more information about a water safety strategy, head to the Australian Government’s official water safety strategy here. You can also contact your local swim centre; many have courses that are specially designed for young children which will teach them to swim as well as water safety tips.
Aurora will be holding another water safety session in April 2018.