Learning to swim offers several benefits to kids. Aside from boosting their confidence around water, it can also build their endurance and provide them with improved sleep. Swimming is a fun activity many children enjoy, but the benefits of learning to swim extend beyond fun.
What are the Areas of a Child’s Physical Development?
Children go through multiple stages of growth and development. Let’s look at these phases and how swimming can encourage their growth not only physically but cognitively and emotionally.
Cognitive development focuses on how your child uses logic and problem-solving skills. It can also cover information processing, reasoning, memory, language development, and related areas.
In 2021, researchers reported that kids identified the names of unfamiliar objects more accurately than others after swimming. It suggests that quick and long swims can help young, developing brains work at their best.
Social & Emotional Development
Children must discover healthy and easy ways to relate to themselves and others. As a parent, finding ways for your child to interact with other children and adults is important in helping them develop social and emotional skills.
Kids achieve various social and emotional milestones growing up. This could be anything from a baby smiling at someone they just met, a toddler practicing parallel play, to children starting a game of tag at the park.
Youth sports provide a great opportunity for your child to develop socially and emotionally. And group swim lessons allow your child to meet new friends with a similar skill set. Swimming can work best for your child’s social and emotional development.
Swimming brings everyone together through swim lessons, pool parties, and escaping the hot summer sun. Lessons can specifically encourage your child to introduce themselves to new people like the kids in their class.
Finally, swimming can make kids more self-confident. Since swimming promotes good physical health, children can learn to love their bodies more and become self-assured. Young swimmers can also feel more confident after achieving their swimming goals and as they enjoy swimming.
Speech & Language Development
Your child should also be able to express their thoughts and feelings, as there are many ways to communicate. For example, a baby may chatter and practice their vowels, or a preschooler may tell a story with basic vocabulary.
A child’s first words kickstarts their language development. This stage should continue into adulthood, especially as new words emerge. Ultimately, you must help your child find the right words to understand the world around them and share their message.
Fine & Gross Motor Skills
Fine motor skills use the small muscles in your child’s hand, fingers, and thumb. They include dressing up, eating, and writing.
Meanwhile, gross motor skills let your child use their body and core muscles. Their arm, leg, and torso muscles help them learn these movements. Gross motor skills include walking, running, throwing, kicking, and lifting.
Swimming makes your child’s muscles work harder against water’s added resistance. In turn, muscles get stronger, stretchy, and flexible, building a healthy and active body.
Since swimming is a low-impact, gentle, and non-contact sport, your kid’s joints feel less pressure which means fewer injuries.
Research from 2019 supports swimming’s positive effect on children’s gross motor skills. It cited a previous study implying that swimming helps improve a child’s gross motor quotient (GMQ). This number shows how well kids use their large muscles while moving, at rest, in new environments, and when grabbing and throwing objects.
The Later Stages
As your child grows, they may try and pursue swimming (or other sports). Here’s what happens when kids get interested in sports.
- Trying new sports – A child can try one or more sports from seven to ten years old, improving their coordination and sport-specific skills.
- Choosing how often they’ll play – Kids into specific sports begin competing and play multiple sports. During this stage, they may know which sport they want to play.
- Playing a sport for fun or professionally – Some children see their favorite sports as fun activities, while others start training to become professional athletes.
- Completely pursuing their chosen sport – Kids may keep playing their favorite sports for fun or go professional.
Other Ways Swimming Can Help Your Child Grow & Develop
Swimming does more than support the main stages of your child’s physical development. It also comes with the following benefits.
Ensure a Healthy Heart & Lungs
Swimming strengthens your child’s heart and improves blood flow for better fitness and stamina. In turn, their body can consume enough oxygen. This results in a low resting heart rate and breathing rate.
Achieve & Maintain the Right Weight
Swimming can also help your child achieve a healthy weight. It uses more muscle groups, making the activity one of the most effective ways to prevent obesity. Also, overweight children can lose weight through swimming.
If your child feels exhausted, stressed, or frustrated, swimming may calm them down. Spending time in the water can make your child forget their worries for a while and focus their attention on learning a new skill while building confidence.
A 2020 study found that new swimmers felt fewer negative emotions throughout ten weeks of swimming lessons. Ultimately, your child may feel happier and mentally healthier after a swim.
When Should Your Kid Start Their Swimming Lessons?
Many swim schools encourage six-month-old babies to learn to swim. Infant swimming lessons may help students feel confident in the water, move in deeper water, and close their mouths. Additionally, parents accompany their children to these lessons. As a result, families get some bonding time with their kids.
Experts have yet to determine when children should begin their swimming lessons. However, Australian researchers have argued that kids become more confident and learn basic swimming techniques at about four years old. Whether your child starts learning to swim early or later in life, they may show these skills while growing up.
The researchers observed that kids could swim freestyle at five and a half years old. Like the finding above, this ability is most evident in children who began swimming at two or three years old.
Get Your Child Started in Swimming
Kids can get multiple benefits from swimming. Beyond water safety and confidence, swimming is effective for a child’s physical development. It keeps young bodies and brains healthy, helps kids socialize, and boosts their confidence.
Want to learn more about swimming for kids? Get everything you need to know from the Bear Paddle blog today.