Things to practice at home (these skills can really help with progress in the pool):

* wetting face with hands, sponge, etc.

* spraying cheeks/ face/ hair with a spray bottle (adjust nozzle for gentlest spray)

* pouring water on cheeks or head (count to three and then pour)

* standing under the shower, so the whole head and face get wet. Start with a small trickle of water if you need to.

* blowing bubbles in the bathtub (blow bubbles with mouth and with nose). A straw can help if this is difficult, or just blowing air on the water to start. Work on building up to a long and steady set of bubbles, not just a puff of air into the water. Mouth: try saying a really long "ooooo" into the water (rhymes with too/boo). Nose: You can either blow with your nose into the water or hum. Try humming into the water for a long time.       

* pouring water over the mouth and nose: using a cup or toy watering-can, pour water over the mouth while blowing or making your bubbling noises ("oooo" with your mouth or humming). Next, pour water over the nose and mouth, then on the forehead and top of the head. The blowing/ bubbling noises keep the water from going into the mouth and nose. It gets swimmers used to blowing while getting the mouth and nose wet. Pouring with bubbles will make dips much more comfortable.      

* practice wearing goggles: Hold them up to eyes, put them on dolls or toys, wear them on the forehead, wear them on the eyes. Play "I spy with my goggle eyes..." While wearing goggles, pour water on them, stand in the shower, and submerge face in the water. Try looking through goggles for 10 seconds, wearing them on the forehead or eyes for a minute. 

* touch ears to the water: One at a time, touch each ear to the water and "listen" to the quiet. Work on building up the amount of time you keep your ear in the water. Later, with goggles on, you can also dip part of one goggle in so that you can see underwater with one eye. Once you have practiced blowing bubbles with your nose, you will also be able to roll your face into the water.

* lying on your back in the bathtub with ears in the water: Gradually increase the depth of water and length of time until totally comfortable, and ears are fully submerged (5,10, 20 seconds, etc.) You can start with just one inch of water in the tub and go from there.

* small kicking with straighter legs and pointed toes (on back and front). You can kick legs for small splashes in the bathtub, or while sitting or lying with feet off the edge of the couch or bed. Focus on the kick coming from the hip, rather than the knee.

* forward and backward arm circles. Big arm circles with straighter arms. Try one arm at a time, then both arms, then alternating arms.

If any skill is too challenging, break it down into smaller steps so you or your child can do some part of the task. 

Practice the bathtub skills before there is soap in the water, so soap in the eyes/mouth doesn't add to the challenge!

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