Here’s a little ditty I learned from Noah’s (7 with Down syndrome)awesome former physical therapist (Oh how we miss Miss Lori).
Last year I mentioned to Miss Lori how fabulous Noah was in the swimming pool and she asked me if he could climb out on his own. Ah hah, I thought, she’s wanting him to work on his upper body strength.
She was trying to clue me in on the most important thing we can teach our kids (special needs or not) in the swimming pool.
When it comes to swimming, being able to get out of a swimming pool is the number one most important thing our kids should know how to do. And it’s not enough to teach them to go to the ladder and climb out. If they wander into an unfamiliar swimming pool, they may not be able to find the steps or ladder, and they can only hold onto the side of the pool for so long. Even if your child isn’t able to swim independently yet, you can teach him to pull himself out of the side of the pool. He’ll need to grab the side rim with his hands, lift himself up, and then put his stomach on the ground and pull his knees out. (If you can’t quite picture it, have an older child climb out of the pool at the side of the pool and watch how they maneuver.)
Every time you go to the pool this summer, practice this skill with your child. Good upper body strength is required (I know this because I can’t seem to pull myself out of the pool – I have to use the ladder). Your child may need a little boost at first to pull himself all the way out, but try to withdraw your help little by little until he is doing it independently. It could pay off it a big way. And if nothing else, it really is a great upper-body strengthening activity.