MAUMELLE, Ark. (KTHV) - Summer is the most popular time of the year for swimming lessons, but the determining the best age for a child to start can be a tough decision for parents.
Tonight an 11 Listens answer to the age-old question parents face, “At what age should I sign my child up for swim lessons?”
Children getting their faces wet, learning fundamental skills, and getting comfortable in the water is all a part of learning to swim at the Maumelle Aquatic Center.
"When we very first started she didn't want to get in the pool or do anything the teacher said,” Michaela Cruce told THV11.
Cruce signed up for swim lessons as soon as her daughter turned 3, but said it wasn't an easy decision. It's a decision, experts say many parents struggle to make.
“Safety is also a huge concern the younger they are so that's why we say a little bit older,” said Gordon Borst, Assistant Director for Maumelle Parks and Recreation.
The center decided to offer swim lessons beginning at age 3 because they're much more attentive at that age. But it's not uncommon to find classes elsewhere, starting as early as 6 months old, when there's a parent present in the pool.
"I have thought about that just for water exposure just to you know help them not be afraid of the water. But I was just afraid myself," said Emily Johnson, who also decided to wait until age 3.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the recommended age to start swimming lessons is actually 4 and older.
"That's an age that we know that they're developmentally and emotionally ready for swimming lessons but we also know that some kids between the kids between the ages of one and three will benefit from some swimming lessons but we take on a case by case basis,” stated Dr. Sarah Bone with Arkansas Pediatric Clinic.
So how do you really know when is the best time for your child? Dr. Bone said you have to look at the child. Parents are aware how their children are doing with their motor skills; Are they running, playing, climbing; Are they receptive to direction?
While most children love floaties, some parents question if it's a good idea to wear them in the pool.
"So, those inflatable arm floaties are not a good thing. They can deflate, they can slip off the child’s arm really easily. So, remember it needs to be something going around their trunk."
Borst added while it does allow them to learn early on while taking swimming lessons, it could provide a false sense of safety which is why he discourages floaties as well. He said by the time they're done with their swim lessons make sure that they no longer need the flotation device to do the swimming.
A 2009 a study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found 88 percent reduction in drowning risk kids ages 1 to 4 who take swimming lessons.