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How to Teach Your Child How to Swim

The weather is definitely getting warmer which means time to spend time in the pool! Kids love playing in the water, but to add an element of safety, it is a good idea to teach your young ones how to swim. This guide will give a few fun tips on how to take the first steps in getting your child comfortable in the water and on their way to swimming!

It is recommended to start with swimming lessons from the ages of 2-4 since children are generally more coordinated at this age, but it isn’t a bad idea to get children younger than that used to the water. If you want to introduce your child to a pool for the first time, make sure to hold onto your baby tight as you get into the water or ideally, get in the water first and have someone hand you the baby. You can do little splashes and twirls in the water, going no further than waist high on your baby.

When your child is a bit older, there are a few fun games that can be played to get them comfortable in the water, but the first thing to do is go over the pool rules every time. This means no running and no going in without someone like Mommy or Daddy being with them. Then, get your child used to the water if they aren’t already. This will reduce fear and panic when actually learning how to swim. Always stay by the steps and even get some water toys to play with. Sit on the steps and kick, kick, kick! Try to encourage a leg that is only slight bent as you would if actually swimming. Get them familiar with leg motions and show that the pool is fun and nothing to be scared of.

The first one, catching fishies, is a good way to get your child used to do a front arm stroke. Sit side by side on the steps, or stand in front of your child, and show them how to use one arm to reach out above the water, plunge down and grab an invisible fish, and bring it in back towards the body. Alternate hands. It will simulate paddling with the arms, and if you tell your child to keep their fingers together to make sure no fish escape, then this will help with propelling in the water when they do actually start to swim. You can go faster and slower and have a laugh as you make big and small splashes!

If you’re ready to move on from kicking on the steps, have your child hold onto an edge (at a depth they can stand safely in), and have them kick outwards, bringing their body more horizontal like you would in swimming. You may want to support their torso just to give them some reassurance if they are not confident yet.

The next game, talking to the fishes or blowing bubbles, will help with breath control. Show an example first of taking a big exaggerated breath and dipping under the water to just over your mouth/nose and blow bubbles. Tell your child you are talking to the fishes and ask them if they can do the same. Some kids may not like putting their head near the water so this may take some time. Just be patient. Pushing them can cause some panic. If they’re not quite ready, try a game of picking up toys from the steps. It will get their face close to the water without it actually going in.

Kids love pretending their superheroes! Now they can “fly” like Superman or Superwoman in the water, of course! Stand in front of your child and hold their arms. Encourage them to kick as you gently glide them along the water. A step on from this in holding your child’s torso as they kick and use their arms at the same time.

For encouraging a bit of independence, do a wall crawl. This will show your child they will always have the wall to go back to for safely. Crawl hand over hand from the steps along the wall and go back. You can put a toy at a certain point of the wall and gave the child get it and bring it back “home.” This is something they will love being able to do by themselves!

A final game to play when confidence is a bit higher is “jumping” from you to the wall. Crouch a few feet from a wall and have your child stand on the top of your thighs. They can “jump” off your legs to the wall (make sure you’re far away enough that they won’t bump their head!) As your child gets more confident and skilled, you can get further and further away from the wall. Eventually, they will have to swim there rather than just leap.

When you make learning how to swim a game, they will adopt vital skills without even knowing it. Even though your child may eventually be a great swimmer, never leave them unsupervised near the water and have safety precautions put in place. Always go through the pool rules and make it very clear they must ask permission before going to the pool.

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