Did you know that preschoolers can drown in as little as one inch of water? Now that you're appropriately scared, take action to make sure it doesn't happen to your child. In addition to always supervising your child around water, teach him about water safety, too. With both of you on watch, your preschooler can have a blast playing in the water and you can enjoy seeing him have such a good time without worrying; well, at least not the whole time.
1. Swim Lessons
One of the best ways to teach your preschooler to respect the water is to make sure she knows how to swim. In addition to learning the fundamentals of swimming, many swim instructors also teach small children basic water safety, such as where it's all right to dive and what to do if they swallow water. While learning to swim is entertaining and can help keep your kiddo safe in the water, it doesn't guarantee that she won't drown. It's a scary thought, and it might even keep you up at night, but always supervise when your child is swimming, whether he's a little fish or not.
2. Dramatic Play
Put a little fun in learning about staying safe around water by asking your preschooler to act out what he needs to do. Give him a life jacket and see how fast he can put it on. Correctly, of course. As he takes it off and puts it back on, tell him that he always needs to wear the jacket if he's near water. Lay a blue towel or blanket on the floor to practice pool safety. Pretend that it's a swimming pool. Practice walking around the pool and remind your child that running can cause him to slip and hit his head. Demonstrate this for your little swimmer. He'll probably laugh uproariously, but he'll get the message. You might also practice jumping in; never diving. Flick the lights on and off, too. It'll signal lightening so your swimmer can pretend to quickly scramble out of the water.
Use story time as a way to introduce your preschooler to water safety. Picture books geared toward young children usually have vivid illustrations and simple words that make them easy for your little one to understand and remember. "A Treasure at Sea for Dragon and Me: Water Safety for Kids (And Dragons)" by Jean Pendziwol teaches how to stay safe around water with a humorous story about a girl who takes a dragon to the beach but must teach him safety rules. It includes a catchy poem and a rules checklist, too. Equally as entertaining is "Watch Out! Near Water" by Claire Llewellyn. The cartoon illustrations and brief text show your child how to stay safe at the swimming pool and near the ocean.
4. Additional Activities
Have a safety hunt with your child. Go to the pool or lake and hunt for danger. Without getting in the water, which will distract your child, have him point out things that make water play dangerous, such as someone running at the pool or not wearing a life jacket. Then he can get the water and start splashing. Do a few hands-on art activities, too. Assemble coloring pages that show kids following the rules of the water. Staple them together to make a book you can review together. Teach your preschooler to dial 9-1-1 in the case of a water emergency. Use a toy phone so you don't have emergency workers showing up at your door.
- A Treasure at Sea for Dragon and Me: Water Safety for Kids (And Dragons); Jean Pendziwol
- Watch Out! Near Water; Claire Llewellyn
- KidsHealth: Water Safety
- Safe Kids USA: Water Safety Guide
- National Water Safety Program: Home
- Pediatrics: Swimming Programs for Infants and Toddlers
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images