Swim Instructor Tips You Can Use at Home

We all want our children to learn to swim – it keeps them safe, and it’s an activity they’ll enjoy for a lifetime. If possible, it’s best to enroll kids in a formal swimming lesson program because swim instructors are experts at introducing water skills safely. Since that’s not always possible, here are a few tips and tricks from seasoned swim instructors you can use at home.
Swim Instructor Tips You Can Use at Home

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When to start getting kids used to water

Some babies are born with an affinity for water, but others take their time adjusting. Learning to swim is a complex set of muscle movements, breath-holding, and vestibular balance. Just like learning to sit up or walk, every child reaches these milestones at their own time. Parents should aim to introduce new skills over time and building a strong foundation for swimming. As we all know, play is the best way for children to learn.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports swimming lessons for one-year-old children who show signs of readiness and are frequently exposed to water. But learning to swim at home starts with their very first bath. Splashing around engages brains and muscles while baby gets familiar with how water reacts to movements. 

Swim Instructor Tips You Can Use at Home

Activities to prepare for swim lessons

Developing breath control is a critical skill to keep kids safe in water. Your goal is to teach your child to inhale and hold their breath on command. Swim instructors use a variety of techniques, but one is to blow air at the child’s face just before submerging them. At home, you can make a game out of blowing cotton balls across a flat surface with your breath. 

If your child struggles with having their hair rinsed in the bathtub, it’s not because they hate the water. Turn over control of the water to them by letting them make big splashes, or play in the shower instead. When children can control the inhale and hold, they are much more open to having water poured over their heads. 

Introduce kids to water in a shallow swimming pool

If you have access to a large tub or space to set up a kiddie pool, give your kids a chance to play in about 12-18 inches of water while wearing a swimsuit. Ideally, the pool should be small and shallow, with a water temperature of around 90 degrees. Cold water tightens muscles, and the discomfort can inhibit learning. Kids with sensory issues often benefit from wearing a swimsuit and comfortable swim goggles to become accustomed to the increased input.   

Stay within arm’s reach at all times and avoid flotation devices. Use toys and plastic mirrors to encourage kids to submerge their chin and ears and teach them to use their hands to “walk” across the bottom of the pool.

The teaching goal is to keep them vertical in the water while practicing moving their arms and legs. A common cause of drowning is that children waste energy remaining upright instead of moving toward the edge of the pool. 

Swim Instructor Tips You Can Use at Home
Swim Instructor Tips You Can Use at Home

Seek out water play year-round

Give your kids a chance to practice their water skills regularly. It takes more than a few 30-minute swim lessons in the summertime to be truly comfortable around water. Regular exposure makes kids less likely to panic if they fall or are in trouble.

If you don’t have easy access to a pool in the colder months, keep children engaged by reading swimming books or watching short videos of swimmers. This gives you a chance to introduce unfamiliar concepts like indoor pools, swim goggles, snorkels, and swimming in open water. 

Swim Instructor Tips You Can Use at Home

Build a strong foundation for swimming

Studies show that formal swim lessons lower a child’s risk of drowning by as much as 88% and that kids taking swim lessons are about six months more advanced than their peers. It’s possible to get these same benefits at home, but it will take a lot of research and effort on your part to incorporate the expertise of childhood development behind the best swim lessons. These tips will help you build a strong foundation for swimming.

Swim Instructor Tips You Can Use at Home

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Swim Instructor Tips You Can Use at Home

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Elisa
September 24, 2020 4:33 pm

These are such great tips! I also really like the comfortable swimming goggles. They’re such a good design!