No one wants their child to be the one who’s too scared to get into the water during school swimming lessons. Give your little one a head start by getting them comfortable in the water and teaching them basic skills. The benefits of doing this yourself rather than paying for lessons are that you can offer one-to-one teaching and visiting the swimming pool together is a great bonding exercise for you and your child. Another bonus is that the whole family can enjoy these trips.
Patience is a necessity here. Don’t pressure your child into swimming their first length immediately; it’s much more important that they become relaxed and confident in the water. When your child is entering the water, you should always be in the pool waiting to meet them. Some children are frightened of getting their faces wet or submerged, so encourage them to splash gently. If their face gets wet naturally, be sure of give plenty of praise and then move onto the next activity so it doesn’t become something you are dwelling on. Blowing bubbles or using plastic cups or watering cans can help your child get used to feeling the water on their face. It might be tempting to hold your child up during the initial lessons, but allow the water to give maximum support. This will mean that the transition is easier when they are able to float alone. Konfidence offers a range of buoyancy aids and float suits for the early stages when your child is becoming accustomed with the water.
The aim is for your child to be confident in shallow water, so she can float independently, go from a standing to a swimming position independently, use coordinated kicking and arm movements and glide through the water. Practice arm strokes outside the pool first so your child can get the hang of it before entering the water. Demonstrate things slowly and clearly, and hold off doing an activity until your child is ready.
It’s important to remind your son or daughter that they should never jump into the pool anywhere other than the centre. Ask them to swim to the steps after jumping in so that there is always a safe route back if they need to get out. Other rules, like no running in the pool area, should be made a priority. Show them the lifeguard and explain what a lifeguard does so they understand that there is someone always looking out for their safety in a public or school swimming pool. The water safety code is available for parents to download here.