School Holidays- a Time for Parents to Take the Teaching Helm
The word ‘holidays’ instantly conjures up visions of carefree hours relaxing beside a pool, or at a beach, with a chilled wine and a long awaited novel within arm’s reach. How misleading the word ‘holidays’ is for parents when prefaced by the word ‘school’. Faced with 6-7 weeks devoid of the the child care that schools provide, and the expectations of offspring, or in case of the teenage variety, outright assumption of the rights, to be entertained at the beach or around the pool, the value stakes of teachers take a well deserved elevated hike on parental ratings. Holidays are the time when parents take the helm as chief teacher and safety coordinator. It is also the time when every element of the holiday vision- relaxing, wine, novel – becomes a potential catalyst of destruction of the 2013 record low numbers of drownings in New Zealand.
But take heart, all parents, it is likely that most of the hard yards have been covered already. You have probably paid for swimming lessons during the year so that when your child gets whipped out to sea in a rip, during that one minute when you were reading the first page of that novel, they have the skills and fitness to stay afloat until you can rescue them. One box ticked. Give yourself a double tick because you have also booked them in for the holiday swim programmes. You have maintained your own fitness level and swimming ability such that you could swim the 100 odd metres there and back to exact the rescue in what is likely to be not perfectly calm conditions. And of course the previous night, like all responsible parents, you limited your alcohol intake at the Christmas party knowing it suppresses airway protection reflexes and dramatically reduces chances of survival- another box ticked. Not to mention the head start you had in the rescue stakes because you had willingly relinquished the slightly strong desire to sun bathe face down up the beach on the dry sand in favour of being beside your child in the water – a big box ticked.
But as parents it is your responsibility to firstly teach your children how to stay safe at the beach and around water, and secondly to check that they have learned what you taught them. Yes, that means good old fashioned rote learning, repetition and regular testing so that the knowledge is foremost in the mind ready for immediate recall. But firstly make sure you know what should be done to keep children safe at the beach. Get your children to test your knowledge of the following checklists. Once mastered, proceed to testing them. Excellence is required. Merit and Achieved may not be sufficient to save a life.
Northern Arena Safety Around Water –Checklist for Adults
Northern Arena Safety Around Water – Checklist for All
- Have full attention on your child- don’t read a book or sun bathe
- Know your limits-supervise only 1-2 children on your own
- Don’t ask older children to watch younger children near water
- Stay near other adults in case you need their help
- Flotation aids, blow-up or inflatable toys can encourage young children to get out of their depth
Print out and pin the checklist to the fridge here
- Never swim alone
- Swim between the flags
- If you get into difficulty, float on your back
- Raise an arm if you require help
- If caught in a rip, swim across it, or simply float out with it
- Use fins and wrist tie when boogie boarding
- If in doubt stay out