YORK – Helping tiny tots splash and play has kept Karah Perdue coming back to the York Community Center as a Water Babies instructor for 10 years.
“I was pregnant with my first child and I was approached to start teaching this when the other instructor left,” Perdue said. “I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to learn how to teach kids and I thought it would be a really great way to give back to the community.”
York Parks & Rec’s Water Babies class – taught at the Community Center Swimming Pool – is for ages 6 months to 4 years old. It teaches swimming readiness in a fun, comfortable environment. “Whether you feel like your child has become a great swimmer or is comfortable with the water it’s 30 minutes of you enjoying time with your kid and spending just focusing on them and focusing on the skill,” Perdue said.
Becoming comfortable in the water should be taught early, Perdue said. “Water a lot of times is very scary for parents. It’s good to know the cues and it’s good for them to work together and have that mutual respect for the water.”
Classes like Water Babies can help combat drowning accidents, which are highest in number among children under the age of four. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional deal in children 1 to 4 years old, according to National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the National Safety Council. For children under a year old, drowning is the third leading cause of death, the organizations state.
Getting acquainted with the water and water safety can be more effective in a group setting, Perdue said. “It helps having an instructor there so if the mom or dad has a question or if the child is nervous,” she said. “It’s nice to have somebody there that is calm and very comfortable with the water.” Being around children their own age in a class is also helpful. “Kids learn a lot from watching each other,” Perdue said.
As serious as the motivation behind Water Babies, the class is full of water splashing and children giggling – and parents smiling. The class opens with a few songs (“If you’re happy and you know it blow bubbles!”) and includes games like parents guiding children through the water towards a floating toy.
The five-day class usually fills up quickly, and there are plenty of reasons why. Simply, safely splish-splashing with your favorite little one is an important learning experience, Perdue said, but that isn’t the only reason the class is popular. “It’s a lot of fun,” she said. It’s a great opportunity for parents to have some time with their children.”