How to help children learn to swim

Child by pool - help child learn to swim

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Swimming is a life-saving skill that most parents want their kids to learn. However, lessons with a professional teacher are another expense that many families cannot afford at the moment. In addition, many courses have huge waiting lists following the pandemic, when they couldn’t run for two years. So, for many, it is up to parents to help children learn to swim.

Whether you have a newborn, toddler or school-aged child that is yet to master the water, this article will give you advice on how to take matters into your own hands. Whilst you are waiting for a space to come up on a course or for the cost of living to gain some sort of normality, find out the steps you can take.


Help child learn to swim - girl swimming with float


Advantages of taking babies swimming

If you can, getting babies used to water is the ideal for the child’s future swimming ability. There are many benefits of going swimming with the youngest children. And the good news is that the NHS says you don’t even have to wait until your baby has had all their vaccinations before you go for a dip.

Here are some of the benefits of taking your baby swimming:

  • It gets them used to being in the pool, which will help future confidence around water.
  • You get to enjoy some great fun time together, building the parent/child bond
  • The baby benefits in terms of physicality, balance and coordination, as well as with mental stimulation
  • It can help improve sleep patterns (not a guarantee, but worth a shot, right?)

However, if you have an older child that cannot swim yet, do not worry. It is not essential to have taken them swimming as a baby. There are still many ways to help older children learn to swim.


Dad and child in pool with float - help child learn to sswim

Help children learn to swim – tips

Whatever the age of your child, here are some steps you can take to teach them the basics of swimming. It’s never too late to get them in the water and learning about one of life’s most important capabilities.

Set up regular sessions

Repetition and consistency are key, so make sure that once you start teaching your kids to swim that you do so regularly. If they were having professional lessons, they would likely go once a week. So they and recreate this by planning the time in your diary.

You don’t need to be at the pool for hours. Kids struggle to concentrate for too long so half a hour is a good length of time to start with.


Don’t try to do too much

You don’t want to overload your child with too much information, so plan what you are going to do in each session and keep it simple. Trying to throw too many new skills in one go when children learn to swim will confuse them and could put them off.

Yes, it might take longer, but you want them to be happy and confident swimmers in the future.


Start without a lesson

It might be an idea to start without a proper lesson. If they haven’t spent much time in water, maybe get them used to it by sitting in shallow water in a kids’ pool or by carrying them around as you move about. This helps them get used to the feel of the pool and its atmosphere. It can also be a fun way to encourage them to want to come back another time.


Kick off with kicking

When your child is ready to learn, then balance and kicking are the first steps. Get them to hold onto your hands, a float or the side of the pool and float without their legs sinking. Then get them to kick. Make a game of it to see how much of a splash they can make. This is fun ad helpful for learning to swim.


Blow bubbles

They might be getting more confident now, so get them to take it to the next stage. This involves putting their mouth in the water and blowing bubbles. You can encourage them to keep trying by getting them to make a silly noise whilst they do so.

When they are ready, have them put their nose under as well. This might take a while to build up the courage for, but it is a key step in their quest to become a swimmer, so be patient. You can always come back to it later if they are not ready yet.


Explore underwater

Once they are happy with their mouth and nose under water, capitalise on this by getting them some goggles and encouraging them to look around below the surface. This can be fascinating for children to see how the other poolgoers float around, and it helps them become more confident in the water too.


Child by pool - help child learn to swim


Introduce doggy paddle

Now is the time to get them moving around. Get them to use their arms to propel them through the water in combination with the kicking that they learnt earlier on. Doggy paddle will be the first stroke that they learn, but once they master that, you can move onto something with more finesse.


Keep it fun

One of the most important steps for helping kids learn to swim is to keep it a fun and enjoyable experience. If it feels like a chore, it is less likely that a child will want to take part. So, add in toys and challenges into your lessons, give them targets to aim for and maybe even get them a treat from the vending machine as a reward afterwards.

By taking them swimming regularly, keeping your sessions simple and being encouraging at all times, you can give your child a great education in the basics of swimming, which they can build on in the future.


Did you help your kids learn to swim? Add your tips in the Comments



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