Learning to swim
Every parent wants to help their child with the skills that will take them through life safely and confidently. Being able to swim should definitely be on the list.
Having swimming lessons from a young age means that your child should know what to do if they ever find themselves unexpectedly out of their depth in water; it’s also a fun hobby that will help them to learn new skills, make friends and develop stamina.
Finally, it will open up other opportunities in the future but giving them the chance to try out active hobbies like surfing, canoeing and scuba-diving.
Not every kid is born with a natural affinity for water, though, so encouraging them to start swimming from a young age is important if you want to nurture confidence in the water.
In fact, there are a lot of benefits to starting when your kid is just a baby, as getting them used to swimming from a young age can help to avoid any fear of water developing and make it easier for a child to pick up swimming as a natural skill.
Some classes start babies swimming from as little as four weeks old.
Some of the other benefits of baby swimming (FAQs) include:
- Giving your child a chance to get active. Too young to walk or crawl, your baby probably doesn’t get much of an opportunity to exercise. Swimming is a great way for them to get used to moving those muscles, with the added benefit of tiring them out ready for a nice long sleep.
- It is a good bonding time for you and your child – and you could also consider taking other family members who want an opportunity to get to know the baby better.
- Swimming can also help to stimulate your baby’s mind. A German study found that swimming at a young age can help a child with motor development, social skills and intelligence. This is hardly surprising: the swimming pool is full of new sensory information that will keep your baby interested and entertained.
But what should you do if your child is a little older and doesn’t have much confidence around water?
If your kid needs a little more encouragement in order to learn to swim properly, then there are plenty of things that you can try:
- Remove some of the pressure by taking them for fun pool play sessions rather than structured lessons. Swimming for pleasure with a float and some toys can be a great way to get them used to the water without worrying about how quickly they learn to swim unaided.
- Spend some time talking through their concerns. If the issue is that your kid is afraid of the water, then you should communicate openly with them about those fears. While it’s important for children to understand that water can be dangerous, you can still teach them that the pool environment – with lifeguards and swimming instructors/parents around to help – is relatively safe.
- Consider a private instructor. Swimming is a great social sport, so it’s good for children to learn to swim with their peers. However, if they start to feel self-conscious in the water then it can become counter-productive, and some private lessons might help. A private instructor can also give your child more one on one attention.
Ultimately, not every child is going to grow up to be an avid swimmer, and there’s no point trying to force a child to love the water if it’s not their cup of tea.
However, starting at a young age can help to encourage that all-important confidence, and making sure they master the basics will ensure that they can keep themselves safe around water as they get older.