While swim lessons may seem like one more thing to add to the ever-growing To Do list, the advantages of learning to swim are far-reaching. Swim lessons teach children (and adults!) not only how to stay afloat, but how to tread water and move their body to safety. These are skills that can save their life in the event of a water emergency, and possibly assist with saving someone else.
In addition to learning potential lifesaving skills, there are other benefits that come with enrolling in a group swim lesson — especially for children. One of the most important benefits is the opportunity to learn through observation, which develops both positive behaviors and skills.
Why Learning by Observation is Key
Observational learning can also be referred to as modeling and shaping, and it plays an important role in the socialization of children. Psychologist Albert Bandura explains through his research that “we are naturally inclined to engage in observational learning” and “learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do.”
During children’s sports and other organized activities, when children aren’t actively participating, they’re frequently rooting for their teammates from the sidelines. Aside from the positive, teamwork-focused attitude this provides, it offers them a chance to watch other children learning the same skills and behaviors that they are, in turn, meant to learn. This is the time when they will mimic and retain the information through repetitive language and actions. In swim lessons specifically, activities are repeated multiple times, increasing muscle memory not only for the active child, but also for those who are watching the lesson.
Learning valuable skills by participating in sport is essential to child development, increasing the significance of a 30-minute lesson. By being encouraged to cheer on their fellow participants, it also shows children how to engage in fair play, create respect for others, build a sense of teamwork, and re-enforce the importance of following rules.
There’s no better way for children to learn social skills than to watch their peers lead by example. Being around other children will help kids naturally improve at taking turns, respecting others, and having a teamwork-oriented attitude. Adopting these life skills at a young age will improve the way they handle experiences as they get older and throughout their life.