How to Teach My Child to SwimLast updated: July 21, 2018
With summer in full swing and children flocking to pools and lakes throughout the country, parents may be asking themselves: How to teach my child to swim? Swimming is not only a necessary skill to keep children safe around the water, but it is also a great form of exercise and a fun way to burn off excess energy. It is important to remember that learning to swim takes time, patience, and instruction to master. Use this quick guide for pointers and knock on how to teach my child to swim off your to-do list!
Get Comfortable with the Water
Regardless of age, the first step to teaching your child to swim is getting them acquainted with the water. Start by just holding your child in the water with you. You can splash, play gentle games, bob around together while singing songs, or sit at the edge of the pool and kick your feet. As your child gets older and more familiar with water, you can begin to incorporate a more structured routine. If you feel uncomfortable introducing your child to the pool or if you would prefer some guidance or encouragement, consider joining a mommy and me style swim program.
Stress Water Safety
As kids gain familiarity and confidence around water, it is essential to remind them of water safety. Stress the need for adult supervision at all times when near the water. Remind children to always listen to the directions of any lifeguard on duty. Let them know that running, shoving, or horseplay in or near the water is dangerous. If you are teaching your child to swim in a home pool be sure that the pool is gated or access is otherwise restricted so that overconfident children don’t attempt to swim on their own. Never rely on inflatable flotation devices like water wings as a safety devise because they could deflate leaving your child with no means of support in the water. For older children still fine-tuning their swimming technique, make sure to stress the importance of the buddy system so that no one is in the water alone.
Kicking is Key
Kicking is arguably the most critical skill of a successful swimmer. Strong kicks and the ability to stay afloat is essential to all other aspects of movement in the water. Children should practice this skill early and often. Start by asking your child to hold onto the side of the pool with the body in the horizontal position and kick your legs evenly while keeping the legs straight. It is essential to stress kicking with straight legs to help build up the muscles needed to be a powerful swimmer. Swim barbells are a great tool to use in the initial steps of teaching your child how to kick. As your child becomes physically stronger, you can incorporate a kickboard to help your child balance in the water while kicking. As time goes on your child should be able to propel forward without the use of the kickboard.
Focus on Form
In addition to kicking, overall form is essential to building technique and becoming a highly effective swimmer. Focusing on your child’s style will help them become the most reliable possible swimmer. When teaching strokes such as backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle, watch your child’s body mechanics and give them constructive feedback to help them improve. Be sure to evaluate their hand, body, leg, hip, and head positioning for each individual stroke because this is key to proper performance. Some children will be more severe about swimming than others, but regardless you should always to encourage appropriate form. You never know, you may be training a future Olympian!
Practice, Patience and More Patience
Some children adapt to the water quicker than others. Being patient with children who are timid around water is essential. Take the time to build comfort and avoid pushing them too hard on their first attempt to try a new skill. For children who are more enthusiastic about swimming but lack form or discipline, avoid driving too hard for perfection. In both cases, you risk causing frustration and increasing fear which could ultimately lead to a dislike of swimming altogether. Allow your child to set the pace for his/her own learning and encourage your child at every stage. Remember, progress takes time and patience!
Make It Fun
Swimming is an essential skill for children to learn to be safe around water but this doesn’t mean swimming should be a chore. No child wants to do hours of repetitive exercises so be sure to mix it up with enjoyable games or challenges. Make it fun by asking your child to race from one end of the pool to the other. Ask him/her to use different strokes with each change of direction. Make it entertaining by incorporating hula hoops, dive sticks, beach balls, or other toys into the lesson. Ask your child to dive to retrieve the sticks, time him/her and encouraging him/her to improve on each subsequent attempt. Another challenge is to have your child swim through a submerged hula hoop or underwater from one end of the pool to the other. Always be creative! Teaching your child should be a bonding experience for you both to make the most of this opportunity!
Know Your Limits
At the end of the day, know your limits and abilities. Teaching your child how to swim safely should be both educational and fun, however; it may become stressful if you don’t have the right tools or knowledge to instruct properly. If you become frustrated with your child’s lack of progress or if you feel that you don’t have the skills to teach your child to consider a local swim school successfully. At Pengu Swim School our swim programs offer small class sizes, flexible scheduling, Red Cross certified staff and dedicated instructors who are focused on your child’s individual learning needs.
Searching for the ideal place for swim lessons for your toddler can be daunting. Safety, training, environment, budget, and location are among the criteria you can use to assess the right fit for you and your toddler. As you research the best place for how to teach my child to swim we hope you find your way to Pengu Swim School!