Swimming helps children start smart
Professor Robyn Jorgensen, lead researcher for the findings of “Early Years Swimming, Adding Capital to Young Australians”, was invited to the Nordic Baby Swim Conference to share the results of this four year long project. It was funded and initiated by Laurie Lawrence’s Kids Alive Swim Program, together with Swim Australia and the Griffith Institute for Educational Research. Children who swim demonstrate more advanced cognitive and physical abilities than other children.
“While we expected the children to show better physical development and perhaps be more confident through swimming, the results in literacy and numeracy really shocked us,” lead researcher Professor Robyn Jorgensen said.
Parents of 7000 children aged five years old and under were surveyed for this project. More than 120 swimming lessons in 40 swim schools in various states in Australia were observed. These parents then reported back on their children’s development, and this data was weighed against the expected progression of children through established milestones.
Professor Jorgensen added that besides achieving physical milestones faster, children who swim scored significantly better in visual-motor skills. Such skills include cutting paper, colouring-in, and drawing lines and shapes.
Children who swim were ahead of normal population
Using internationally approved testing methods, Professor Jorgensen and her team found the following for children aged 4 to 5 were
- 11 months ahead of the normal population in Oral Expression
- 6 months ahead in Mathematics Reasoning
- 17 months ahead in Story Recall
- 20 months ahead in Understanding Directions
This shows that children were benefitting so much more other than just developing better in the physical aspect.
Professor Jorgensen agreed that the project carried implications for education, especially for children from low socio-economic situations. If disadvantaged children could have access to swimming lessons, more children will definitely get to reap the benefits. Their research has shown that early years swimming has children well ahead in many of the skills and processes they will apply once at school.