Summer is here for some and approaching for others. Pools are opening or gearing up to open. Kids are begging to go swimming.
Our kids were quite upset with me when we did not attend opening day at our pool. I think I have more than made up this week. We have been at the pool almost every day or least the oldest has.
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Last summer our oldest was seven years old and started asking to visit the pool by himself. It was more about not wanting to wait around while I got myself ready, his younger siblings ready, and all our stuff together.
We went through the following questions in making our decision:
- Is the pool staffed with lifeguards? If your child is visiting a friend with a pool, make sure an adult will be supervising. Keep in mind that not everyone will feel the same about pool safety. A lot of hotels do not have lifeguards, but many resorts will have them.
- We are fortunate and know most of the lifeguards at our community pool.
- What are the pool’s rules in regards to adult supervision? Many public pools have rules posted that indicate what age kids can get in the water without an adult and/or at what age they can visit the pool without an adult.
- We do not have these rules posted at our community pool. We live in a small community. The couple who manages our pool both work for our school district and know all the local children. They make a decision on an individual basis when asked. We talked with them about our son and they felt he was old enough to visit the pool without adult supervision.
- What is the size of the pool and where is it located?
- Our local pool is a small community pool on a quiet street one block from our house.
- Has your child had swimming lessons? Can they swim, float, tread water, and follow water and pool safety rules. Do not overestimate your child’s abilities.
- Our son has been in swimming lessons since his was seven months old and is a great swimmer.
- Consider your child’s maturity. Is your child responsible? Does your child make good decisions? Do they know to take a break if they are getting tired? Do they know to stay clear if some kids are roughhousing in the pool?
- For a seven year old we felt our son could be very responsible.
- (Update based on reader comment) What are the laws and norms where you live? As I said above, we live in a small community and it is normal to see kids riding their bikes around town and visiting the pool without a parent starting at the age of our oldest child. However, that is not the norm everywhere. You do not want to put yourself in a situation in which someone is questioning your parenting skills or you face legal issues. Get a feel for what is the norm/law in your area. Talk to other local parents. Consider what the rules are in terms of school pick up/drop off and what you are allowed to do in terms of the child who wants to go without to the pool.
At seven last summer we still felt our son was young. We chose to take baby steps. Since the main issue was waiting around for me to get everything ready, we started letting him go to the pool ahead of me. This summer we are allowing him to visit without us.
It was evident in the number of times our son asked to visit the pool by himself last year that he thought it was important. Here are a few reasons why we think it is important.
- Builds independence, self-esteem, and self-confidence. We want our children to grow into happy, confident, and independent adults. This is another step in gaining those skills.
- Helps them learn time management. We set a time for our son has to be home before he leaves. While at the pool, he must watch the clock and be home by that time to maintain this privilege of visiting the pool by himself.
- Helps them learn about money. Our son has a swimming pass, so he does not have to pay an admittance fee. However, we send money with him to purchase a snack. He must find a snack within his budget and count the money out to make the purchase.
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