I can’t imagine summers without swimming. In the midst of a hot day, with a house full of kids who are starting to get a little bit antsy, I always know what to do. Just toss out the question, “Hey, do you guys want to go swimming?” The house is always a flurry as they rush to get their swimsuits on and gather their towels, and weå always have a great time in the pool.
As a mom, safety is one of my top priorities, and part of keeping kids safe in the pool is teaching them how to swim. After all, I only have two arms, so kids who can’t swim absolutely need to be wearing life vests. I can’t see us having much fun with a pool full of kids floating around, but not really involved in the fun parts of swimming, like jumping in or diving for rings and all of those other activities. There are several ways to go about teaching kids how to swim, and I’ve had experience with each one.
Playing With Pre-Swimmers
Before my kiddos reached the age for real swimming lessons, they spent a lot of time in the pool. These pre-swimming days are fun, with little ones floating around and enjoying the pool, like a giant bathtub. Kids who love taking baths will often translate this love to the swimming pool, whereas ones that don’t like the water will bring that fear along as well.
The most important thing with pre-swimmers is to get them comfortable in the water and help them have fun. They enjoy bobbing up and down a little, splashing with their hands, and just being with the rest of the family. For safety, I’ve outfitted my pre-swimmers in flotation devices approved by the Coast Guard because it never hurts to be cautious. In addition, I watch them closely and never, ever leave them unattended.
Attending Swimming Lessons
My husband and I are lucky enough to own a pool–we have an above ground swimming pool(they’re cheaper)–so we started giving our kids at-home lessons when they were very, very young. But learning with other kids is an important part of the process so we still enroll our toddlers in summer swimming lessons (it gets them out of the house for a few hours too : ).
Although many pools offer lessons for the infant and toddler ages, I’ve found that it’s best to wait for formal lessons until they can attend lessons in the pool without parents in with them — usually when they reach three or four years old. Many local organizations offer great lessons, and I’d recommend reading reviews on the programs available in your area. Kids not only learn basic swimming skills, like floating, kicking, blowing bubbles, and eventually putting a stroke together, but they also learn water safety. And it’s all in a fun environment with their peers.
I suppose I could teach my kids how to swim on my own, but I prefer to leave that early introduction up to the pros. Plus, the kids love being in a lesson setting and getting to do their special activity each week. However, if I had a child who was particularly shy or scared of the water, I might consider self-teaching. The goal is to move things along at the child’s pace, while still introducing new water skills and making it fun so the child is motivated to swim.
Practicing Swimming Skills
Lessons only happen once each week, but our family loves swimming in between lessons, too. The kids enjoy hopping into our above ground pool whenever they can during the summer and showing off their new skills to their friends and siblings. Because I watch their lessons, I know what they’ve been working on and ask them to show me what they’ve been learning and practice the parts they have been having trouble with. But most importantly, we just love spending time in the water as a family!