We often hear from parents who say that practice looks a lot more fun in lessons than it does at home! How do we do it?
As often as we can in a lesson, we engage kids in practice by adding a little imagination into fundamental skills. As Mary Poppins says, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” The same is true for practice when you make it into a game!
Here are three games you can play with your child to get them practicing their straight-leg kick in the water. Kicking is fundamental to two of the four major strokes your child will learn on their way to becoming a proficient swimmer.
By the way, they all require some creative narration on your part! Don’t worry, you got this.
1. Motorboat stuck in the mud!
To play this one, you don’t need any toys. Have your child hold onto the side of the pool while floating on their front.
Now picture it, they’re the motorboat zooming around through shallow waters. And they get stuck in the mud! Use your narration to have them speed up their kick or slow down as they go through different imaginary areas. Check out the video below to see this in action.
“Uh oh, the motorboat is getting stuck – it’s slowing down!” Count down the seconds for them so they know how long they have to maintain a certain speed. “Alright, we need to get out of the mud – kick really fast!”
2. Don’t Let the Turtle Bite Your Toes!
For this, you’ll need a floating toy. If you have a sea creature, great. If not, a ball will do. Have your child place their hands on the steps of the pool at a level where they can just place their chin in the water.
Uh oh! The sea turtle is on its way to nibble their toes! Place the toy in the water behind them and have them kick to send waves that push it away. You can leave it free floating or stay behind and move it closer and farther. Have them look back periodically to see how well they’re doing.
3. Let’s Rescue the Sea Creature
Like the last one, this game requires a floating toy. A sea creature, a boat – as long as it floats it’ll do. If you have an assortment of floating toys, let your child pick their favourite for this game.
Once you choose a toy, have your child throw it into the centre of the pool. Now, it’s time to go rescue it! With both their hands on a barbell, have them kick to propel themselves towards the toy. Swim or walk alongside them and encourage them (use your narrative skills!). Once you reach the toy, grab it for them and have them turn to bring it back to “port” (AKA the steps).
You can up the challenge on this game by throwing the toy farther away each time.