Swimming can be a lot of fun during hot summer days, but it’s also an essential skill that could save your child’s life.
If you have a swimming pool in your yard, your child needs to know how to swim. If you want to take them to the beach, they need to be able to swim. If you will be sending them to summer camp and swimming will be one of the activities scheduled, they will want to know how to swim. If your child doesn’t want to, or can’t take swimming lessons, you can teach them yourself.
These tips will show you how to teach a child to swim:
1. Make sure you are the right person to teach your child
Before you start giving swimming lessons to your child, ask yourself if you are really the right person to do it. If you can’t swim, it might be difficult for you to teach your child.
If you can swim, but you are afraid of the water, maybe you should ask someone else to teach your child how to swim. If you are afraid or nervous, your child will feel it, and they will be afraid or nervous as well. Instead, it may be best if your child is taught by the instructors at summer camp, since they are fully qualified and experienced.
On the other hand, if you love water, it will be easy for you to share your love of water with your child.
2. Don’t rely too much on flotation devices
Another way to teach a child to swim is to use a flotation device. Inflatable flotation devices can be fun if your child wants to play in the water. But if you want to teach them how to swim, you should avoid using such devices.
A flotation device will keep your child upright and give them a false sense of security. If you really want your child to learn how to swim, they can’t rely on a flotation device to help them. They could, however, wear a life vest with a strap that goes between their legs until they feel confident enough to remove it.
3. Show your child how to float
Before you start teaching your child how to swim, you should first show them that it’s possible for them to float on their back.
Start with a demonstration. Lay on your back in the water, relax, and show your child how you can float. Ask them to do the same, stay close to them, and make sure they remain calm.
4. Teach your child how to hold their breath
Being able to float is important, but your child also needs to be able to hold their breath under water. If your child is afraid of going under water, you could start by blowing bubbles at the surface of the pool.
When your child feels more confident, you could gently submerge them under the water and count up to 3 before helping them come back up. Of course, you should not do this before explaining what you are going to do, and for how long.
5. Teach your child how to kick their feet
When your child is able to float and to hold their breath under water, it’s time to show them how to kick their feet so they can swim. To do this, you can stand in front of them, hold their hands, and start walking backwards. Tell them to kick one foot after the other as you do this.
If your child doesn’t understand that to do with their feet, you could give them a demonstration, perhaps outside of the pool so they can see your feet better.
6. Teach your child how to paddle with their arms
Of course, your child can’t swim only by kicking their feet. You can start by showing them how to paddle with their arms outside of the water, before encouraging them to try it when they are sitting on the ladder of the pool.
When they feel confident enough, ask them to try to kick with their feet while they paddle with their arms. You could place your hands under their belly to help them stay afloat while they learn to coordinate both movements.
7. Don’t forget to have some fun
Swimming lessons should be fun. If your child is not enjoying themselves at all in the pool while you try to teach them how to swim, they will quickly lose interest.
If they have a friend or a sibling who knows how to swim, have them play together. You can also make up games so your child will have fun while they learn new skills.
8. Let your child swim with a life vest
When your child is able to swim, you could allow them to swim with a life vest on until they feel confident enough to remove it. But even though your child is wearing a life vest, you should keep supervising them to make sure they feel safe.
Make sure your child understands that they can’t go swim without your permission. If your child is too young to understand that they need supervision while they are in the water, make sure they are not able to access the pool to go practice their new skills while you’re not looking.