Why is it so important that children learn how to jump into the water?
Jumping is one of the key elements for the development of motor skills in children, and it’s important for swimming as well. Children usually learn how to jump into the water before even jumping on the ground.
Water jumping has a great impact not only on physical, but also on mental development of children. With every jump that children make, they learn how to keep the balance, to maintain coordination and precision of the moves, to become self-confident, and also to be brave, clever in unpredicted, new situations. Regardless of the age of a child, water jumping is an important technical element which children learn very early.
It is not before the age of two that children become aware of the fact that water jumping is a skill they need to master. Most of them learn how to make small jumps while going down the pool ladder, while the jump itself, using both their legs, takes place a bit later. Is it also the case with swimming?
Ever since I started with the Baby Swim Club (in 2013) and the work with lots of babies, especially when my Little Shark and Little Fish were born, water jumping has become a special thing for them, even when they were six months old.
Water jumping, when and what to expect from children?
In the baby swim lessons when they are only six months old, children learn how to «jump» off the pool’s edge. Of course, we’re not talking about acrobatic headfirst jumps, but a jump adjusted to their age. From the sitting position, with their legs in the water, even six-month olds can jump, i.e. to slide into the pool, into the arms of their mom or dad. Of course, some kids instantly outstretch their arms and jump, while for some this process takes time. However, as motor skills and coordination in children develop, so does their jumping. At this stage, water jumping for babies makes them overcome the first big “obstacles” and makes them familiar with the water. It is literally “a jump into the unknown”, but in the presence of their parents, it is an experience to remember!
At the age between 12 and 24 months, when the child can firmly stand on his/her legs and can stand at the pool’s edge alone, we introduce the element of jumping off the pool’s edge from the standing position. Also, at this age, there are the mom’s or dad’s arms of trust and safety waiting for them on the other side of the pool’s edge. When the children become more familiar with jumping, we “accidentally” let them go down a bit and get their heads wet, dive and make them come to the surface on their own, with a bit of our help. We usually use a hoop in which the kids are supposed to jump, to make the thing even more interesting for them. Jumping at this age is important since it makes them ready for many other sports in which there are jumps and half jumps. Also, it gets their muscles ready and helps their stretchiness, since they contract and relax at every jump.
At the age from three to five, every child should observe water jumping as a game. They find it amazing to go, climb up and jump from the starting platform, as professional swimmers do, not only just from the pool’s edge. At this age, of course, due to a safer jump, it is of key importance to teach them where to position their toes and heels. Those jumps are still made with their feet landing first, where a noodle or the coach are waiting for them in the water for their safety. Another important thing a child should learn at this age is how to jump into a deep water with the feet landing, and then start swimming from the vertical position. Why? Because not knowing how to change from the vertical into the horizontal position is one of the frequent causes of children drowning, and one of the most important things to realise that is the importance of their feet and their head being at the surface.
A proper technique and a safe headfirst jump that children start to learn at the age of five, even though some children learn it before and some later, there’re no rules. The first headfirst jump is done from the squatting position off the pool’s edge with a proper position with their arms above their head, and that they gradually start practicing it from the half-standing position. As children start mastering the swimming techniques, they also master jumping and turning as well. If children master headfirst jumping at this age, they will find it much easier to link the start with the underwater kicks and the transition into a swimming technique later.
For pre-school children, jumps in swimming are important for their motor skills and children’s development in general. Children who have the fear at first, once they get rid of the fear, can’t stop jumping, since jumps become one of the most interesting elements in learning how to swim (Cannon Ball, Pencil, Candle, Summer sault…) That is why a jump and turn in some elite swimmers can be crucial in achieving top scores, especially in “small pools” and short course competitions.
Questions parents usually make:
My child knows how to swim, but is afraid to jump into the water, what should I do? There are cases when a child wants to swim, but is afraid to jump into the pool, regardless of sitting or standing at the pool’s edge. In these situations, the simplest thing to do is giving him/her a hand to feel safe. Later on, you can suggest jumping together, first off the pool’s edge, and then from the start platform. With persistence and trust, the fear will disappear, and jumping into the water will become a real run for your child. Give it a try!
How to make your child jump into the water without plugging his/her nose?It often happens that children are not afraid of depths, heights, they know how to jump into the water, but they just can’t help but plugging their nose. This is why we learn at the very beginning, in baby swim lessons, but also later in the groups of beginners, how to blow air through the nose underwater and how to make the real bubbles underwater. In groups of older children, the breathing technique is vital. The best exercise and the simplest way to make bubbles with breathing through the nose is by holding at the pool’s edge, for example, in ten connected air takes and dives with making the bubbles by breathing through the nose. Because, this is what actually happens once a child jumps and dives his/her head in the water…
Every jump into the water is possible, and important for your child’s development.
Let the experts teach your children how to jump into the water properly!