Best ways to introduce swimming lessons early at home
Swimming is a useful skill that’s best learned at a young age. That’s because water is a fascinating element. Even babies and toddlers are not immune to its attraction, and this can present a safety issue. Fortunately, even very young children can be taught to swim. With the proper instruction, young children can become adept enough in the water to keep themselves safe.
As interesting as water may be, some children are reluctant to try swimming. It’s a topic that’s best broached in the comfort of home before heading out to the local pool.
Start a Dialog
Tell your child stories about what it’s like to swim. You might share experiences you had growing up swimming in a pool and other bodies of water. Share fun things to do in the pool like games that can be played. Also, tell them what it’s like to take swim lessons. Explain changing in the locker room and talk about having a teacher who knows a lot about swimming. Emphasize that this can be a fun and positive experience. Take the time to listen as well. Your child may have thoughts and fears that need to be shared before getting in the pool.
Visit the Pool
If you’ve already scoped out a facility where you’d like your child’s swim lessons to happen, make sure to visit the pool with your child before the lessons start. Most pools have open swim sessions where everyone is welcome to play. You don’t have to show your child swimming techniques on this visit unless he or she is particularly enthusiastic. Instead, focus on splashing, playing tag or blowing bubbles. If your child seems receptive, you might try having him or her practice holding their breath and putting their face in the water. This can be especially challenging and scary for some kids, so an early introduction can be beneficial. Above all, make this a fun experience that your child will be excited to repeat. Don’t force them to try things before they are ready. If you demonstrate certain techniques that your child is reluctant to try, don’t push the issue. When your child sees you safely completing a technique several times, they’ll eventually want to participate.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Back at home, you might introduce an age appropriate book about swimming or swim lessons. Use the book as a means of talking about your child’s own swim experience. Use plenty of praise for how they performed in the pool as positive reinforcement. Again, take the time to listen to what your child has to say about pool time. There may be things that make them nervous about being in the water about which you can provide reassurance.
Observe a Swim Lesson
Before taking that first lesson, it can be extremely valuable to take your child back to the pool to watch other kids their age take a swim lesson. Knowing what to expect in a class can allay many of a child’s fears. It also provides them with a chance to ask questions and even get excited about the big day. If the instructor who will be teaching your child’s class is on hand, take the time to introduce your child. Again, this will ease the transition between playing at the pool with you right at hand and taking a lesson with a virtual stranger when you may not be immediately visible to your child.
Sign Up for a Lesson with a Friend
Having a friend at swimming lessons can also make the process easier. If you have a friend or neighbor with a similarly aged child, try to sign them up for the same class. When your child knows they will be spending time at the pool with their friend, it’s likely to help minimize jitters.
Swimming is a valuable and important skill that keeps kids safe in the water and gives them a chance to exercise in a fun environment. Although some kids initially may be reluctant about getting in the water, taking a few steps to introduce the idea of swimming usually makes the lessons a success.
Bob Quigly is a landscaping and family fun enthusiast who writes on a variety of blogs for Backyard Ocean’s above ground swimming pools.