Lake Living Basics: Teaching a Child to Swim

Every child, at some time or another, has the desire to learn how to swim. If you go on vacation at the beach or go camping, there is almost always guaranteed to be the opportunity for swimming.

Preparing your child for that experience is very important and should be taken very seriously. Typically around the toddler age (between 2-3 years old) they will be old enough to be familiarized with swimming techniques and safety.

parent preparing to teach a child to swimMake sure your child is ready, do not make them do something they do not want to do or are not ready to do. Continue to read to find out some tips on how to teach your child how to swim in a loving and caring way.

Even if your child is a strong swimmer they should always be under constant adult supervision and still wear a certified life jacket when on a boat or playing in the lake.

Make it Fun

It is important to make this a fun time for your child. Being too serious or strict may dissuade them from wanting to learn how to swim.

Hold him and show him how to kick his/her legs and float on his/her stomach or back. Show him/her how to blow bubbles underwater so they will know how it feels to get their face wet and not swallow water.

By the time they are 2-3 years old they should be able to do a number of these things without your assistance.

Safety Tips

• Never leave your child unattended

• Close all exits and including the pool gate

• Teach your child about safety such as not running around the pool/lake and not going into the water without an adult going with them.

• Do not substitute water wings or any inflatable toys for a certified life jacket. They will sink if they deflate.

• Remove all toys from the water when they get out. They may be tempted to jump back in and get them and that is a no-no.

Once your child is older (4-5) they may be ready to some regular swimming strokes. Be patient with them, and do not give up too easily. Here are a couple of swimming strokes that are fairly simple to learn.

The Back Glide

This is much like the backstroke but a little simpler. Make sure your child holds onto the edge of the pool with their hands and have them tuck their knees up and head back in the water.

Now you can allow them to push off slowly and start gliding. This will give them a good idea of what it is like to do the backstroke.

Dog Paddle

You may want to try this outside of the pool first. They will make their hands in the spoon shape and effectively “trot” in the water, alternating movement between their hands and feet.

This style looks very similar to the way a dog swims, hence the name. Make sure they have the technique down before you let them go at it alone.

These are just a few helpful tips when it comes to teaching your child how to swim. Make sure to remain patient and be supportive. It may take time but it will be worth it when they learn. You can easily teach a child to swim, but keeping them safe while doing so is the main goal.


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