How to Teach Swimming to a Child
To teach swimming to children is vital, not only is it a fun leisure activity, it is also a crucial life skill to avoid drowning. Although, due to their anatomy, children aren't able to swim until they are three or four years old, familiarizing them with water from birth is always a good idea. Your main goal at this period of their lives is to get them to feel comfortable in water as well not afraid to dunk their head in the water and not afraid to splash around a bit. Fear causes stress and tension preventing muscles from functioning properly whilst also accelerating breathing, making it impossible to teach a fearful child to swim. If a child has already visited a swimming pool and been in the water from a very young age, he/she will take to the water naturally and will be far easier to teach. To teach swimming to a child of three or four years of age without them having had any previous experience in a pool, follow these steps:
Don't push them: This can be counterproductive and can actually make any contact that the child has will water a truly traumatic experience. Swimming must be an enjoyable experience for your child not an obligation.
Be understanding. Remember how hard it was when you started to learn swimming? Give your child the time to adapt to this new environment. Let the child see the other children swimming and enjoying the pool before taking him/her into the pool with you. It is normal for children to cry or complain at first. If, after five minutes, they're still complaining or crying, let them get out of the pool, but stay in the water yourself. Try to coax them in with toys that float or by playing with the water.
Be constant. If they continue to cry after four separate sessions, leave it be for a while and return after around six months. Forcing the your child to learn how to swim will in turn cause the opposite effect. However it is important to teach a child to swim before they are six years old, as it will be much harder for that child to learn in the future.
Use floating devices. Once familiar with the water and after about two months of one or two weekly sessions, the child will normally be able to move in the water with the help of some armbands or other floating supports, such as rubber rings and foam pads. Using these devices to teach a child how to swim will improve the likelihood of success.
Get the child accustomed to breathing under water. One of the most common reasons for a child to be scared of swimming, is the fear of going under water and being unable to breathe. Therefore it is imperative to get your child use to ducking under water. You can teach your child how to breathe under water and get them accustomed, by making them blow under water to start with, then progressing to using their nose and their mouth to blow under the water and finally with their whole head completely under.
Start to develop swimming technique. At first, he/she might swim by using her/his legs only and doing a doggy paddle, or, the child might dive straight. Don't try to encourage the child to include arm movements at this point. Get the child accustomed to using the leg kick, by holding the rail of the pool with his arms and kicking his legs as much as possible. Once he has a good kicking technique, you can start to develop correct arm movement.
Suitable swimming support materials for young learner are widely available in a number of high-street and online stores.
Develop correct arm movement. (Freestyle) To develop a a good swimming technique the child must have good arm movement. There is some simple exercises you may use, such as getting the child to pretend he is a windmill and that he must scoop as much water as he can behind him.
For further information to teach your child to swim, we advise you to take a look at this article on:
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- Try to teach the child to jump around in the water and to call you from inside the pool. It's fun for them and it's a good way of practicing good swimming pool safety.
- Before buying any swimming support material, check that the swimming pool doesn't already have some.
- If you buy your own, take the child along with you to get him/her excited for their upcoming swimming lesson.