How to Teach Your Kids to Swim

Featured image of father teaching son swimming

It’s never to early to learn how to swim and that is why you should start teaching your kids this skill as early as you wish. If they know how to swim they can spend summers in the most fun way – splashing in the pool, a day at the beach, playing games with their siblings and friends. Not to mention how useful this skill is, because it can save your child’s life someday by preventing drowning accidents. So, to get you prepared and started for this fun task, here is a step by step guide on how to teach your kids to swim.

Step 1: Get the gear

Just like for any other water sport activity, it is desirable to have the right swimming gear for your swimming lessons. Your child will feel much safer and more confident with the gear on, which can make the lessons less stressful for both of you. The gear you’re going to need will depend on your child’s age and how much fun you wish to have. However, some of the swimming items you’ll find useful are:

  • Goggles
  • Back float
  • Swimsuit
  • Swim belt for kids
  • Swimming cap
  • Headband
  • Swimming diapers for babies

Step 2: Create a plan

Since you’re not a professional tutor, but you are a good parent, you will create a swimming plan. This will help you focus and dedicate the time to your child just for the swimming lessons. Pick the dates for your swimming lessons and dedicate the exact time for those. You can even list the dates and time in your phone’s calendar and always know when it’s the time for a lesson. You can even plan these lessons a few weeks in advance and be sure you are clear from work or any other chores.

Step 3: Start the lessons and keep them short

We are all born with the reflex for swimming and staying on the surface, and it’s a fact that kids swim well and can learn well, too. However, they don’t have a long attention span and that can be a problem. That is why you really have to keep them interested in swimming and keep the lessons short. So, this is not going to be an overnight task and you’re going to need a lot of patience, but it’s all worth it.

Image of little girl learning to swim

Step 4: Teach them to control their breath

This is probably the most important thing about how to teach your kids to swim. Breath control is essential, and it is going to be hard for them to learn it, so it might take a few days. Start by blowing bubbles by breathing out through the nose and mouth and be patient, because they will get it in a few days.

Step 5: Kicking and arm movements

As soon as you notice that your kid is confident in the water, fully enjoying themselves, you should start with teaching them kicking and how to move their arms. The problem with kids can be that they are moving their legs as if they are walking. This certainly affects their floatation. So, focus on kicking for a few lessons and let them hang off the edge and only move their legs. Later on, when the floatation is fixed, you can teach them how to properly stroke the water to get their little bodies moving. Of course, you should always keep your eye on them and help them stay afloat with the gear or by putting your arms under their bellies.

Step 6: Make it fun

Due to their short attention span, they might lose interest. Especially if they are finding it hard to go through some stages of the lessons. That is why you should keep swimming lessons fun. If your child is a bit older, you can challenge them to get to a certain distance. Also, you can play some games during the lessons or after them as a reward. See what they are interested in or even how competitive they are, and swimming will become so much more fun for both of you.

Step 7: Increase endurance

By now you should be able to know how confident and skilled your kid is at swimming. If they have mastered arm and leg movements and blowing bubbles, you can start removing some of the gear and let them do things themselves. Also, you can increase the swimming distance and work on their endurance. You can even teach them how to dive and try out different swimming styles, but always keep an eye on them.

Step 8: Let them learn in their own pace

How to teach kids to swim is almost the same as teaching them to read or write. Every kid has their own pace and some kids will need more time to learn this, and some will need less. If your child is slow in learning how to swim, be patient with them. They will get it and they will become good at it.

Image of little boy in pool

Mistakes to Avoid

There are a few things that you should always keep in mind and keep an eye on.

First and foremost is that you must not lose your patience. If you get frustrated and start yelling at your child, they are going to lose interest and they might never want to participate in swimming again.

Secondly, always keep an eye on their kicking. If the kicking is good, they will easily learn how to swim fast, but if you forget to watch the kicks, they might develop their own style which might slow them down.

Also, make sure you’re always monitoring their limb coordination. If the coordination is great, they will swim fast and easy without having any problems with floatation, otherwise, they are going to have a struggle.

Lastly, don’t keep your child in their comfort zone. If you’re constantly worried and you restrict them, they are never going to learn how to swim properly. So let them have some fun and take some “risks” because it all pays off.

Benefits of Swimming

Swimming is fun, and many people like and enjoy it. So, there is no doubt that you should teach your child how to swim. There are many reasons for that, from safety to health and activity.

Swimming is a great low impact exercise. It engages the whole body, and every muscle works. And for a child, it is essential to get adequate exercise in order to grow up into a healthy well-built person. What is more, swimming develops great muscle flexibility, stronger bones, and great motor skills and coordination. Plus, it is great for our cardiovascular health.

Safety is the second most important benefit of swimming. It is essential for a child to learn how to respect water as early as possible and learn how dangerous it can be. So, teaching them how to swim, float and overall behave in the water might save their life one day. Or even help them save somebody else’s life.

Additionally, swimming will increase their confidence and acquire them some great life skills. You never know what your child’s career is going to be; they might even become an Olympic swimmer as a matter of fact. So, work on your plan on how to teach your kids to swim, schedule some lessons and teach them this valuable skill.

What is more, swimming has some social benefits. If you have more than one child, team up with your partner and teach them how to swim together. Devote some time for them to have some fun and play games and once they are all confident you can even have some of their friends over for socializing. Additionally, if you sign them up for swimming lessons, they will meet new friends and always have fun with them. This will teach them to appreciate those lessons even more.

Lastly, swimming can improve their emotional and mental health. The natural buoyancy of the water is always relaxing which can help them clear their minds and simply enjoy the joy of water. Plus, swimming can help fight off depression and improve their overall mood.

Image of girl swimming in pool

Most Common Questions Asked By Parents

What is the first thing to teach them about their swimming lessons?

The process of how to teach your kids to swim always starts by teaching them how to kick their legs. At the very beginning, they will figure out that kicking is the thing that gets them to move in water. So, make sure to pay attention to teaching them how to properly kick their legs in the water. After that, you can start teaching them how to blow bubbles and arm strokes.

How to teach your child to put their head underwater without being nervous?

You should approach this slowly and gradually, just like any other part of teaching your child to swim. First, start by teaching them how to hold their breath and only put their mouth in the water. Then, you can progress to putting the nose in there as well.

Also, you can do the same things and let them copy you. If they see you are not getting your eyes of hair wet, they will do the same and have more confidence. Additionally, you can use swim goggles for this, which will be really fun for your kids. Plus, they will think it’s cool that they can see everything under the water.

Is it wrong to teach them how to doggy paddle?

There is nothing wrong with teaching your child to doggy paddle. As a matter of fact, it’s the easiest thing to learn the young children. You cannot expect your child to be a great swimmer right from the beginning, so you can start the lessons of how to teach your kids to swim by teaching them the safest stroke ever – doggy paddle.

How do you teach your child to float?

Since floating is a characteristic of our body, you can’t really teach a child or any other person to do it. It comes naturally. It’s the fact that fat floats and muscle sinks, generally said, therefore, people with more body fat float much more easily than muscular people.

However, there are a few techniques that can help you teach your child to stay on the surface more easily. For example, show them star floats, which are always fun to do and to chill in the pool. If your child is okay with putting their face in the water, you can learn the face down star float, and if they’re not you can do the face up one.

What’s the best equipment for teaching your child to swim?

How to teach kids to swim is not an easy job, so you might need some gear. Also, the equipment you’re going to use will depend on your child’s age. If you’re teaching your baby how to swim, you will need a floatation device. For a bit older children, you can get water wings or discs, but those will restrict their arm movements a bit. Nevertheless, they are good support.

For more confident chilrend, you can get them a swim noodle or Swimfin as great learning swim aids. The swim noodle is the least supporting, and allows your child to paddle freely, and the swimfin leaves the arms completely free for swimming.

Swimming is fun and you should do your best to teach them how to swim. You can even sign them up for some additional swimming lessons with a tutor, and always be sure your kid will enjoy the water and be safe in it. However, don’t forget to keep a close eye on them, and encourage them to be interested in their lessons, because playing in the water is always fun and relaxing.

Author: Mary Lynn Holden
Author: Mary Lynn Holden

Proud mom and stepmom to an adorable bunch of kids aged 7 and up. Deeply appreciates three things in life: the help of older siblings in the house, texts on parenting, and strong coffee. Shares her stories and experiences in order to help others navigate the unpredictable waters of parenting.

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