Is My Child Ready for Swim Lessons?

Boris op de rand
source: Ianus via Flickr Creative Commons

You’ve heard stories of babies thrown in the water who come up swimming at six months. You’ve seen kids in the pool who look way too old to be wearing floaties. So when should a child learn how to swim?

Here are some tips, although of course you know your child best and should take that into mind.

  • Children younger than 3 are probably not able to do a swim lesson with an instructor. (Really, how often does your 2-year-old listen to YOU, nevertheless someone else when he is distracted by splashing?) Hold off on parent-free lessons until age 3. But if you can take a parent-child class, go for it if you toddler is comfortable with it.
  • Find a class that splits by age range so your child will not be mixed in with kids much younger or older.
  • Most experts will say that the motor skills for actual swimming are not developed until age 5 and beyond. Preschoolers will do great in simple getting-used-to-the-water type lessons, but don’t expect your son or daughter to learn how to really swim in a proper fashion before 5. The more comfortable he or she already is with the water, though, the easier lessons will be in the future.
  • Lessons will be progressive, so continue them each summer.
  • Studies show that whether you start swim lessons at 2, 3, or 4, most kids won’t start swimming independently until about 5 1/2.

I would conclude that you can start swim lessons when you’re comfortable with your child being in the water with an instructor – beginning with a parent-child class and moving onto group or individual instruction without parents in the pool. But don’t be discouraged if your preschooler doesn’t learn to swim independently.

(Puddle Jumpers are so wonderful for that age when they WANT to try to swim but can’t, too!)

Do you have any tips or stories about swim lessons?

 

Enjoy the Pool — Safely!

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We have had the best summer with both our boys (that’s them in the pool earlier this summer) on the swim team at our local YMCA. They have both improved so much! It was a lot of hard work but we are a bit sad now that the season is over. Now that they both know how to swim, w  e relax a bit more when they are in the water, but there are still important steps to take to protect them.

Consider the following tips from the TIPP program (The Injury Prevention Program) provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

  • Never let your child swim in any body of water without an adult watching.
  • Be sure the adult watching your child knows how to swim, get emergency help, and perform CPR.
  • Keep a life preserver and shepherd’s hook in the pool area to help pull a child to the edge of the pool when necessary.
  • Don’t let young children and children who cannot swim use inflatable toys or mattresses in water that is above the waist.
  • Watch children closely when they are playing near standing water, wells, open post holes, or irrigation or drainage ditches.
  • Teach your child to swim once he or she is ready (usually around 5 years old).
  • Teach your child safety rules and make sure they are obeyed:
  1. Never swim alone.
  2. Never dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
  3. Always use a life jacket when on a boat, fishing, or playing in a river or stream.

Check out the AAP Web site for other tips on water safety and the TIPP home page for injury prevention tips for your children at all ages and stages of development.

Where have you taken your kids to swim this summer?