redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Learning how to swim at an early age could make youngsters smarter and help them reach developmental milestones faster than the average child, according to research conducted at one Australian university.
According to a Thursday press statement, Griffith University Institute for Educational Research professor Robyn Jorgensen and colleagues surveyed the parents of 7,000 children under the age of five from Australia, New Zealand, and the US over a three-year period.
“A further 180 children aged 3, 4 and 5 years have been involved in intensive testing, making it the world´s most comprehensive study into early-years swimming,” the institute said.
Jorgensen said that the study demonstrates that kids who participate in swimming programs during their formative years tend to acquire a vast array of skills earlier than those who do not, and that some of those skills can help them “into the transition into formal learning contexts such as pre-school or school.”
“The research also found significant differences between the swimming cohort and non-swimmers regardless of socio-economic background,” she added. “While the two higher socio-economic groups performed better than the lower two in testing, the four SES groups all performed better than the normal population.”
The researchers, who hailed from Griffith University, Kids Alive Swim Program and Swim Australia, report that there were no gender differences between the study subjects and the rest of the population.
Those who learned how to swim at a young age tended to reach physical milestones earlier, score “significantly better” in visual-motor skills tasks such as drawing lines and cutting paper, and perform better when completing mathematical tasks, they reported. Furthermore, they were also found to have outperformed non-swimmers in both reading and numerical literacy, and did a better job of expressing themselves verbally as well.
“Many of these skills are highly valuable in other learning environments and will be of considerable benefit for young children as they transition into pre-schools and school,” the researchers said.