How To Teach Your Kids to Swim
Teach your kids to swim if you want your child to grow up feeling safe and secure around water. You can teach your child to swim at nearly any age, but recommendations can change by age. The suggestions we listed below are for kids older than 4, so if your child is younger, look at recommendations for small children. Of course you will only want to have your kids get in the pool when supervised, so you’ll want to have a top quality pool safety fence installed.
Teach your kids to swim and have a fun experience, so grab some floaties and let’s get to work!
Step 1: Pick the right floaties
There are many different flotation devices available to children. The best one will allow them some freedom of movement to safely practice skills like paddling while still keeping them safe. One of the best options is the Puddle Jumper, which usually includes two arm floaties attached to a floatation device that sits on the child’s chest. This ensures the child doesn’t fall forward when swimming.
Step 2: Teach them how to find safety
One of the most important things to teach your kids to swim, is how to exit the pool or find something to hang on to. The game Monkeys on the wall is a great option. Once your child is close to the wall, yell, “Monkeys on the wall!” Then, they are supposed to find the pool wall, grab it with both hands, and place both of their feet on the pool wall below the water.
This will help them pull themselves up, so their neck is out of the water. Then step by step, they use their hands and feet to walk along the lip of the pool. This helps them build awareness about where the pool’s edges are and build the strength to hold themselves up. Once they are good at this, you can progress to teaching them how to pull themselves up to exit the pool.
Step 3: Floating
This might be difficult if you have a particularly active child. It is also just a scary thing for most kids to do. But it is incredibly important your child learns how to float in the water. So, take it slow and know it may not happen on the first try.
First, teach your kids to swim by leaning them back, so their head is resting on your shoulder and place your hands on their back, holding their chest and back above water. As they feel more relaxed in this position, have them open their arms and legs to form a starfish position. Only when your child feels comfortable should you move their head from your shoulder or chest to your hands.
Then gently use your hands to lay their head in the water while still supporting their back and head with your hands. It might be best to also move to their side so that they can see you. Eventually, move your hand away, even if only for a few seconds, so your child can feel more comfortable floating alone.
Step 4: Hold their breath
First, start in an area of the pool where your kid can stand. Then have your kid put their mouth under the water and blow bubbles into the water. Then progress to their nose. Feel free to have them practice blowing air out of their nose outside of the water before trying it in the water, if that helps them feel more secure. They should feel comfortable going underwater without holding their nose before moving on to the next step.
Step 5: Treading water
Take their floaties off, but make sure they know you are there to support them. It is essential you take their floaties off, so they understand the difference between swimming with a floatation device and swimming without one. Teach them how to kick their legs and arms to keep themselves above water.
Don’t be too prescriptive; they will usually figure out the technique quite quickly on their own. Then while you’re holding them, have them start to tread water. Slowly release your hands until they are holding themselves up. This may take a while to get here, mainly because you don’t want to spend too much time on this skill on any one day because it will tire them out quickly.
Once they have mastered treading water, try walking around them in a circle and have them turn their body to face you. This will help them learn how to turn themselves around in the water.
Step 6: Paddling and kicking
Now is where you teach the foundations of swimming. Start by showing them the motions. Hold their waist while they learn how to kick and paddle around the pool. Slowly remove your arms from them once they feel comfortable. Once they have the basics, have them start at the edge of the pool. Then have them push off the edge of the wall and swim to you. As they get more confident, take steps further back.
Step 7: Jumping into the pool & other advanced skills
Once they are comfortable swimming above water and below, teach them how to jump off the edge of the pool, dive for toys at the bottom of the pool, and other fun, advanced skills!
There you have it, seven steps to teach your kids to swim. Teaching your kids how to swim and be safe around water can greatly reduce the chances of accidental drowning.