6 Years and Up: Youth Lessons
Again, age is used as a general guideline but skill level is usually a prerequisite for class enrollment. Both the YMCA's Youth and Adult Aquatic Program and the Learn-to-Swim Program taught by Red Cross-authorized water safety instructors divide their course content into seven levels.
The YMCA uses names like Polliwog and Minnow, while the Red Cross simply classifies the levels based on number. The facilities that use the Red Cross instructors, however, may assign fun names like "walruses" or "frogs" for each level.
In both youth programs, instructors initially help your child build a solid foundation of water safety skills, basic breathing methods, and individual stroke techniques. Gradually, over the course of the seven levels, your child will build upon that foundation going from the elementary dog paddle to the graceful butterfly stroke. Your child will graduate to the next level, at his or her own pace, after passing the previous level's tests.
Each of the YMCA's seven levels, regardless of specific skills taught, includes coverage of the following five components:
- Personal Safety
- Personal Growth
- Stroke Development
- Water Games and Sports
No matter which aquatic program you choose, do make sure that water safety skills are taught and constantly reinforced at that particular swimming location. You can be assured that the YMCA and Red Cross lesson plans include water safety coverage as part of each level's curriculum.
"At every level we teach, even in our parent/tot classes, one of the six sessions is solely dedicated to water safety. It's just part of our lesson plans," says Marjorie Ellenwood, a Red Cross authorized water safety instructor at the Marshall Community Center in Vancouver, Washington.
The Red Cross also offers specific water safety courses like Community Water Safety covering general safety and rescue skills applicable to over a dozen different aquatic environments. They encourage parents to constantly supervise their kids around water, regardless of their swimming ability or the water's depth. Also, they warn not to consider flotation devices or inflatable toys as substitutes for your watchful eye.
Whether poolside or dockside, have a safe and wonderful time splashing around!