What Age Should a Child Learn to Swim?

parent teaching kid to swim

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Swimming is more than a fun hobby. It can be a lifesaving skill.

Teaching a child to swim can also be a bonding activity for both you and your child. Is your child old enough to start learning?

Are you ready to be the world’s greatest swim coach? Dive in!

What Age Should a Child Learn to Swim?

Children may be ready to start learning swimming techniques as young as 1 year of age. Those toddlers who spend a lot of time around water and have already developed a comfort with water are the best candidates for early swim lessons. Other children can wait until they are three or four.

Is a Parent the Best Teacher?

baby learning to swim

I love my children and I like to think that I am a good mom. What I am not is a good teacher. More specifically, I am not good at teaching physical activities.

I tried to teach my kids how to play tennis and ended up ruining their love of the sport.

I volunteered as a cheerleading coach for my daughter’s cheer squad, and by the end of the season, those poor kids knew less about cheer than they did when they started.

I know my limits. I know I would have been the worst to teach my kids how to swim.

I hired a swim coach for my kids when they turned four. Each of my children took swim lessons for six years. It was the best possible option for them and for me.

However, many parents choose to take on the role of swim coach themselves.

Benefits of You Teaching Your Kids

There are great benefits to teaching your children how to swim.

1. You Know Your Children.

First, you know your children. You know what will motivate them and how they best learn.

2. Better Schedule

Second, you can teach them around your schedule. You don’t have to worry about making it to a specific appointment that you will lose but still have to pay for if you are too late.

3. It’s Free

Third, it’s free. Swim lessons can cost up to $60 per lesson, per child.

4. Your Kids Trust You

Lastly, your child will trust you more. Learning to swim is a scary business for a young one. They need someone they can trust.

Mom or dad is truly the best swim coach as long as you have the right amount of skills and patience.

How to Teach a Child to Swim

parents teaching swim

You can’t dive into a swimming pool and suddenly become a swim teacher. You first need to study about how to teach children to swim.

There are plenty of online tutorials you can read. You can watch tutorials that give you some good ideas about teaching swimming as well (like the one below).

If you want to get really serious, you can take swim instructor certification courses through the American Red Cross.

Whichever route you decide to go, you need to start with the basics. Introduce your child to water so they can develop a comfort level with it before they start swimming.

Purchase floaties and goggles to keep your child safe and happy in the water. Brush up on water safety and vow to never, ever leave your child unattended in or near water for any amount of time.

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You also need to prepare your patience. Some children take the water right away. Others need a lot of time and effort before they are able to float or tread water.

Some children resist swim lessons. You may have to coax, bribe and beg your child into the pool until they finally learn to love swimming.

Tips and Tricks for a Successful Swimming Lesson

Successful swimming can start as young as one. A child who grows up around water will already have the confidence it takes to start some basic swimming movements.

If your child doesn’t spend much time around water, you can use your best judgment about when to start swimming lessons.

Most kids start around age three or four. Ideally, your child should be able to swim by their fourth or fifth birthday.

The following tips should help you teach your child how to swim. These tips will also help you if you, like me, hire a swimming instructor.

After all, even if you rely on someone else to teach your children to swim, you will need to help your child practice.

1. Be Patient

I mentioned this already but it bears repeating. If you can’t find a way to be patient, neither of you will be successful.

2. Be Safe

Safety is key around water. Drowning is just one of the dangers lurking around pools. Kids can also fall on slippery poolsides, especially when running. Children can injure their heads and necks when diving in shallow water. They can also experience dry drowning, which occurs when water enters the passageways during a sudden plunge.

3. Be Consistent

Learning requires consistency. Even if your child doesn’t seem to be catching on, keep at it. The more you reinforce good lessons, the better your experience will be.

4. Be Fun

No one enjoys learning if it isn’t fun. Learning to swim can be a game. Include lots of splashing and incorporate water toys. Your child will be eager to learn how to swim.

Hiring a Swimming Instructor

instructing a kid

Hiring a swim instructor does not need to be a daunting process. In fact, it can be as simple as joining a swim club and using the instructors they have on-site.

This is what my family decided to do.

The swim club we joined employed lifeguards as instructors before the pool opened each day. My children were thrilled to learn how to swim in a pool that they played in every summer.

Another option is to investigate a swim school. These schools have indoor pools that are available throughout the year.

Children who train at swim schools have the benefit of learning how to swim even when the weather is cold or rainy.

Your final option is to hire an individual swim instructor.

This is a good option if you have your own pool and want your child to have one-on-one instruction rather than swim instruction in a group setting.

Can Older Children Learn How to Swim?

Some people think that older children are too old to learn how to swim. The good news is that this is absolutely false. There is no age that is too old to learn to swim.

Older children and teens can take swim lessons. Even adults can hire a swimming instructor to learn how to swim or learn new techniques.

While it’s best not to put off learning how to swim, there is no time that is too late.

Key Takeaways

Teaching your child to swim can happen any time during the toddler years. Age three or four is the right age for most children.

When do you plan to teach your children how to swim? Will you teach them yourself or hire an instructor? Tell us in the comments!

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