Nice weather brings many opportunities for fun and learning with your children, through water play. There are a variety of settings to explore movement in, with and around water, such as in the bath, in the shower, at the pool, at the beach, in the backyard with a hose, playing with water containers, spray bottles or garden sprinklers. Such experiences naturally fascinate young children, and water is one of the basic raw materials for learning mathematics and science, developing language, and fostering social skills.
Water provides multi sensory experiences for young children. Water is wet, smooth, silent and noisy. It drips, splashes and it can be poured. The sensation of water pressure and of buoyancy on young children will vary according to the depth of water, which parts and how much of the child’s body are submerged.
However, just as young children need time to learn to crawl and walk, skills in the water are mastered through time, repetition, encouragement and modelling. Water familiarisation, confidence and swim skills are best learnt with consistent and ongoing exposure to activities in, on and around water. Whether your child is a newborn or already three to five years old it’s never too soon to start. Take your time when you are introducing new activities and always go at a pace your child is happy with.
While playing with water is developmentally appropriate regardless of the child's age or abilities, family members should always consider safety factors when children are anywhere near water. A young child can not be made 'drown proof' or 'water safe'. There is no alternative to constant adult supervision of young children in and around water. Young children do not understand the risks associated with water, hence caregivers must model safest behaviours and attitudes in and around water.
Ideas for safe, fun and educational water play
Water familiarisation activities
For ideas on more summer activities please visit sporthorowhenua.org.nz.