It’s the first day of school for your child and you want it to be perfect!  You’re packing a lunch, combing hair and taking pictures while giving encouragement, advice and admonishments.

Be a good listener.

Obey the rules.

Follow directions.

Do your best.

Have fun!

School readiness is more than ABC’s and 123’s.  It’s a child’s ability to learn from someone other than mom or dad in a group setting.  Some children adapt well to the massive changes school brings; for others, it’s a bumpy road with many stops for parent-teacher meetings.  What can a parent do to help their child prepare for the leap to the classroom?  Turns out, swimming lessons might be the answer.  Researchers at Griffith University studied the effect of swimming lessons on children under 5 years and found that early swimmers appeared to make the transition to school more easily. 

“It was found that the children (who received swim lessons) scored better on measures of understanding and complying with directions,” the Interim Report states in November 2012.  The effect was more pronounced on children who began lessons earlier and participated for longer.  These early results reinforce what learn-to swim professionals have believed all along:  swimming lessons teach more than a lifesaving skill. 

A child practices active listening by hearing a skill described, watching a demonstration and performing the skill him- or herself.  Rules are obeyed because they are clear cut and consistently enforced to maintain safety.  Goals are set, and by following directions and putting forth the best effort, success is achieved and celebrated.  All the tools your child needs to thrive and learn in school are present in a swim lesson. 

The Griffith researchers noted that the quality of swim schools varies.  Parents should carefully examine where their child takes lessons to ensure the most benefit is received.

To read the study go to www.griffith.edu.au and search for Early Years Swimming.