I’ve been nicknamed “the fish”. I love the water and always have. Every minute I spend swimming in a pool is time well spent. During swimming lessons I was always that kid that, when the life guard blew the whistle to signal everyone to get out, I would swim to the ladder on the OTHER side so that I could get to stay a few more minutes in the water. And those minutes were precious!!! So it didn’t come as a surprise that as an adult I chose to specialize in Pediatric Hydrotherapy. The developmental benefits kids receive from swimming in a pool are numerous. From body awareness, motor planning, muscle strengthening, language development as well as promoting a calm and organized state. The following are a couple of pool activities your kids can have a splash-load of fun with……
Vestibular- What can be more fun than sliding down a slide and splashing straight into the pool?! Or trying to remain upright while standing on a floating board. The stimulation to the middle ear promotes balance skills and motor control.
Oral- Eating a cold popsicle at the pool side is great way to provide oral input. In addition, blowing bubbles or blowing tiny plastic balls across the pool helps to develop oral motor skills.
Jumping- Play a game of catch called Marco Polo. The “it” person is blindfolded and calls out “Marco” – then everyone answers “Polo”. Marco needs to jump around and try to catch the person closest to him based on the replies. Or you can have a rely race: the starting position is on your shoulders and then your kids need to jump down into the pool and jump to the other side. Then first one there wins!
Deep pressure-Hug and ride a large inflatable water-toy for calming proprioceptive input.
Heavy work- Play catch with a weighted pool toy. When your kids miss catching the toy it will sink to the pool floor. Have them dive down to pick it up. Add swimming through a hoola- hoop for an extra challenge. When it’s time to leave the pool have your kids climb out from the wall- this is a great exercise for strengthening the shoulder girdle and demands a lot of energy. That is why Olympic swimmers leave the pool from the ladder at contests- in order to save energy. Diving, as well as climbing out from the wall will provide deep pressure input to the body which can have a calming and focusing effect.
Malky Shapira, Pediatric Occupational Therapist Mother of two terrific toddlers.