Helping Your Child Learn How to Swim, Part 1

Todd Cefaratti understands that for children, the idea of swimming often seems as frightening as it does exciting. Follow this guide to easing your children into the water and helping them learn the fundamentals of swimming.

1. Walk with Your Child

Even before dog paddling, young children can take a stroll through a pool to become acclimated to the water. All they need is a helping hand from you–two, in fact. Hold your child beneath his or her arm pits and walk around the pool with them. Let them splash around and get a feel for being in the water.

2. Practice Kicking

Once you and your child complete a circuit or two around the pool, ask them if they feel comfortable practicing kicking. Explain that kicking helps propel them forward in the water. When they feel ready, either hold them, or take them to one side of the pool and have them hold onto the side while they kick.

3. Practice Strokes

After kicking, ask your child to watch as you demonstrate a basic stroke. Once again, hold your child underneath their armpits and them to lay face-down in the water, keeping their head above the water, and ask them to mimic your strokes. Concentrate only on strokes at first. Once they have gotten the hang of the motion, tell them to combine kicking with strokes. Hold them the entire time so that they remain comfortable.

4. Blow Bubbles

More often than not, dealing with the reality that one’s face will sometimes dip below the water’s surface is the most difficult part of teaching children how to swim. The sooner they get used to getting their faces wet, the sooner their comfort zone will allow them to enjoy swimming. Stay alongside your child and demonstrate blowing bubbles in the water. Then ask him or her to do the same.

5. Breathing While Swimming

Once your child can kick and paddle, teach him or her how to breathe while swimming. This is an important step, as taking a breath at the wrong time can cause one to intake water and begin coughing and spluttering. When they need to inhale, instruct them to turn their head to the side, take a gulp of air, and close their mouth again.


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