Teaching Your Child to Swim
Teaching your child to swim is an essential life skill you can help them develop, whilst also building trust between you
and your child and spending time with each other.
Depending on your child's age they will certainly need armbands
and possibly a floatation ring or seat.
require very close adult support and in these early stages your child
should only be practising closely assisted swimming. They should never
be left to develop independent swimming skills at these early stages.
At all times when teaching your child to swim you should be closely supervising them and
always be able to intervene if necessary.
Before you teach your child to swim you first need to get them use to
water in a fun and relaxing way. This process starts at a young age from
early experiences of bath time and
perhaps the paddling pool.
When you child has
developed some confidence in the water an age appropriate floatation
device is an ideal way to allow them to experience a little more
independence (whilst still under close adult supervision). Floating
rings are ideal, and are available with or without a seat depending on
the age of your child.
Whilst wearing their
floating ring, encourage your child to kick their legs and move the
water with their arms. Get them use to the experience of moving water
around them. If your child is particularly sensitive to water, you could
provide them with goggles, but ideally it would be best if your child
was confident without needing these unless swimming underwater, which is
something often developed at a later stage.
Once your child is
confident with kicking their feet and moving their arms in order to move
around the pool, you could then think about introducing them to wearing arm
Be careful to ensure
your childs arm bands are secure and inflated correctly. Explain to
them that without their floating ring, they will now have to work harder
to stay afloat in the water. Provide them with a small float to hold in
front of them (with both hands) to help support their balance in the
water. Encourage your child to kick their legs to stay afloat and travel across the water.
As your child progresses and becomes more confident encourage them to
try travelling without the small float, but just with their armbands.
Model and explain how they can move the water with their arms, whilst
also kicking with their feet. Support them in developing these two
Once your child is
capable of swimming confidently with arm bands and seems ready to
develop their swimming further take the relevant steps to encourage
this. Do not rush your child onto this stage , as if they are not ready
it could result in them having a negative experience, and the whole
process being delayed or worse starting from the beginning again.
Firstly, talk to your
child and check that they are ready to try without arm bands and instead
use a swimming board or float. Explain that you will be very close (in
the water next to your child) and that if they do go underwater you will
be there to pull them out immediately. Discuss how they may go
underwater once or twice at first when they are getting used to swimming
without arm-bands. If they do appear to be struggling, always support
them immediately to avoid your child becoming anxious and possibly
losing their confidence.
Top Tips to Develop
When your child is happy
and confident to try semi-independent swimming ensure you:
- Make the effort to
always be in the water with them, so you are ready to assist
and give them confidence. If your child knows you are next to them,
this will eliminate fears associated with semi-independent swimming.
- Offer praise and
encouragement (even for what may seem to be small amounts of
progress to you and I!)
- Only practise for
short lengths of time, and dont pressurise your child into
achieving more than they feel able to. Avoid comparing your child to
others, every child is unique and have varying capabilities in
- Practise regularly,
at least twice a week, so your child continues to build on their existing
- Enjoy it and make it
an exciting experience for you and your child. Children learn best when
they are happy, motivated and having fun!
Once your child is
confident with swimming with a float or swimming board, encourage them
to try swimming independently without arms bands or a swimming board.
Stand close by for support and once again show encouragement and
- Never ever allow a child to swim without close adult supervision.