Looking to have some summer fun? Well, a huge part of that is lounging by the pool or on the beach. The only problem may be your little kiddos lack of swimming ability. Let’s be honest--we want our kids to know how to swim so we can relax, reading our books and sipping our seltzer while they go off and do their thing. Teaching your kids to swim for the summer might sound like a daunting task, but it can be a simple, rewarding experience for both you and your child.
With the right strategies, regular practice, and a basic knowledge of water safety, it isn’t too difficult to teach kids to swim.
1. Teach in Your Own Pool
Teaching lessons in your own pool is one of the best ways to ensure consistency. Plus, the value of convenience cannot be overstated; keeping up with everything else in life can make it a struggle to get to the pool often enough.
Depending on where you live, it’s possible that an inground swimming pool costs less than you think. It’s never a bad idea to look into it, and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.
2. Practice Regularly
Repetition is necessary for helping your child develop good muscle memory. Swimming also takes a lot of strength. Until your child develops an understanding of how to float, stroke, and kick efficiently, it will take even more energy for them to swim. Regular practice will help your child become stronger and more efficient with each lesson.
3. Be Patient
Kids don’t learn to swim overnight. Most swimming programs offer five to six lessons, and many kids repeat the same level several times before progressing. This is completely normal, so be prepared to practice the same skills repeatedly before seeing much progress.
It’s also normal to see some regression. Sometimes kids are really into swimming one day, but want nothing to do with the water the next day. Common things to see during swim lessons are a dislike for putting ears and eyes in the water, reluctance to jump into water or submerge the head, and fear of deep water, even when the child is being held by a reassuring parent.
Most of all, use your intuition to determine how your child is feeling in the water and try your best to make it a positive experience.
4. Inspire Confidence
One of the key elements to helping your child learn to swim on his own is to help him feel confident in the water. Many kids are able to swim but (subconsciously or consciously) fear swimming without help. Compliment your child each time he makes progress, no matter how minor. Recognizing and pointing out his skills will help him become more confident in the water.
5. Keep Age-Appropriate Expectations
Children can learn to swim at any age. However, it’s important for parents and teachers to have age-appropriate expectations for a child’s swimming skills. Due to psychological development, it’s common for children to resist certain swimming skills until they reach a particular age.
6. Teach Vital Safety Skills
Many swimming programs incorporate water safety into each lesson. This is so important, and it begins with the youngest age groups. Even infants can learn to float on their backs (though, it’s never recommended to try to get your baby to swim alone, unless you hire a licensed professional. If you plan to teach your own baby to swim, it’s also wise to familiarize yourself with infant swimming safety, which is very different than teaching older children).
Toddlers can learn “bobs,” or jumping up and down in the shallow end. This seems like a silly game to most kids, but it’s actually a vital survival technique. If a child ever drifts into water that’s too deep for them, they can “bob” back to safety even before they know how to swim.
Older kids can learn the importance of wearing life jackets in open water. Practicing with life jackets helps prepare kids so they don’t panic in an emergency. This also presents a great opportunity to learn life-saving techniques for staying warm in cold water.
7. Have Fun
The goal of every practiced swimming teacher is to help kids associate swimming with having fun. If it becomes apparent that your child isn’t having fun in the water, it’s okay to stop “teaching” and just play games. It’s also a great idea to incorporate games throughout the lesson so your child thinks of it as playtime, rather than a “boring class.”
Having fun doesn’t have to be limited to pool time, either. Encourage your kids to play in water often (with supervision).
You Can Do It!
Any parent can teach their children how to swim. Over time, your kids will become better and better at swimming.
You have a fun summer ahead of you!