We are all extremely blessed to live in Switzerland. A country of towering mountains, breath-taking biking paths and crystal clear bodies of water. Culturally, children in Switzerland are taught from a young age how to approach and respect the mountains and how to safely navigate the narrow, winding roads on their bicycles. Unfortunately there is not as much emphasis put on the education of child safety in and around water. As families head to the lake in summer, travel to beaches and enjoy entertaining around the unfenced, Swiss pools at home, there is much opportunity for children to sustain a water based injury. The La Chat PTA are supporting the education of their young students by announcing the approval of a Water Safety Skills grant.
The Royal Lifesaving Association states that, ‘Teaching children personal survival skills and water safety is the most important investment the school community can make to reduce the incidence of drowning. It is the right of every child to access quality swimming and water safety education which includes skills such as general swimming techniques and treading water, survival techniques and strategies, floating and rescue skills.’
This is a much different concept then simply teaching a child how to swim. Water safety knowledge is as important as the swimming skills children use in the water. A sound knowledge of when and why to use a particular survival skill or basic rescue technique is as vital as an ability to safely perform the skills. Knowledge about the hazards and risks of aquatic environments and how to ensure personal safety and that of others, is an important component not always taught as part of swimming education.
The PTA grant allows for a 40 minute lesson on basic age-appropriate water safety skills for each year two class, for example:
1. Safely entering a pool or any waterway (especially if the water is not clear)
2. Exiting a pool without a ladder
4. Survival strokes
5. Rescue skills
6. Treading water
7. Survival swimming in clothes and how to safely call for help
The benefit of learning to swim is much more than simply to prevent drownings. Research shows that children who swim are smarter! Researchers from Griffith Institute for Educational Research surveyed parents of 7000 children from Australia, New Zealand and the US over many years. They have found that young children who participated in early-years swimming achieved a wide range of skills earlier than the normal population. Children achieve physical milestones faster, scored significantly better in visual-motor skills such as cutting paper, colouring in and drawing lines and shapes, and many mathematically-related tasks. Oral expression was better as well as in the general areas of literacy and numeracy.
Other research has found the positive effects of swimming on childhood asthma,cardiovascular health and also improved self-esteem.
This Water Safety Skills grant is just the beginning! Our goal in the future is to extend the program to educate all primary school children. Without creating a fear of water, but-teaching the La Chat student community how to joyfully and respectfully play in and around it safely.
By : Bec Von Pfyffer