Learning to swim is good for kids in a lot of ways – for safety, of course, for physical health, and even for cognitive development. But did you know that, as a structured activity, swim school and swim teams also can help kids succeed socially?
Swimming can be competitive or social, but very often it is a group activity, especially for children in swim school. There have been many studies about the benefits of organized sports and activities for kids, and as teachers, we can attest that swim school and swim teams promote a lot of good behaviors and positive outcomes that go beyond physical health.
Some top benefits we see in our students are:
The more we keep kids swimming, the more they learn the value of sticking with it. At FOSS, we teach swimming by building skills one upon the other and giving kids a chance to see measurable, steady progress. Advancement is the reward for effort, and we see kids pushing themselves to do better. Even when they plateau or need to re-take a level, they keep improving their discipline.
Learning to swim is a big accomplishment, yet can be achieved at a student’s own pace. When parents are engaged (a key part of our curriculum) kids get an immediate psychological reward every time they do something new or master an existing skill. All of that contributes to a positive self-image and a sense that even big goals are attainable. And science backs it up: Kids who participate in sports have better self-esteem and sense of self-worth.
Sense of belonging:
Sports also give kids an early opportunity to feel like a positive contributing member of a group. In swim classes, there are no specific goals but to have fun and learn new skills, but even there we see kids form bonds with their classmates and teachers that reinforce that they are accepted and valued.
Working well with others:
In a group, everyone helps create a learning environment – even the students. It’s part of why Foss Swim School teaches regular classes with the same group of kids and minimizes teachers moving around. In any group, some kids will be slightly more advanced in specific skills, which gives other students a model to emulate and learn from. In group classes, kids also learn to take turns, that everyone gets to be the center of attention sometimes. We encourage fairness, support for others and cooperation – all good life skills at any age.
In competitive swimming, there is also a chance to be a leader. Swim teams have roles for leaders among the swimmers, and just like in all aspects of life, there are many ways to express leadership. Sometimes it’s excellence in sport, other times it’s work ethic or a dedication to help others improve. Those who are chosen as captains by their teammates are recognized for having something special, but everyone on the team gets a chance to lead.
Empathy and encouragement:
In lessons, in races or in life, everyone succeeds sometimes and has challenges sometimes. The ability to learn that about ourselves and about others is both humbling and empowering. When you’ve seen a 5-year-old go out of his or her way to cheer up a fellow swimmer who is having a bad day, you know they’ve learned one of the most important lessons of all.
Swimming might not be the only place to learn these skills, but we believe it is one of the best. The combined safety, social, physical and mental benefits of swimming make for an unbeatable combination. So what are you waiting for? Find a class or just get your family and friends out to the pool or beach. We’ll see you in the water!