To celebrate National Learn to Swim Day on May 19, we have put together a guide on the best way to teach your kids to swim at home. In addition to avoiding the expense of swim classes, teaching your kids at home gives you an excuse to take advantage of your recent pool remodel and may entice you to keep your pool surfaces extra clean. By instilling water safety, following a schedule, and using fun games, your kids will develop a genuine love for the water and be swimming in no time.
Having your kids around water can be a nerve-racking experience. The good news is that babies are born with a natural affinity for water. When your kids are around water be mindful of your reaction as acting scared can instill a fear of water in them. Reinforce this love for water by allowing your kids to play in the tub during bath time. Once you feel your kids are ready, head out to the pool.
Start With Floaties
Find the right floatation device that makes you feel comfortable and your child feel confident. If you are having trouble deciding, this Paddle Jumper is a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
Set Ground Rules
By making rules for in and around the pool you can keep safety top of mind. Teach your kids that they must ask permission before entering the pool and that an adult must be in eye-sight when in the pool. Set rules that they must always wear their floaties when in the water and that horseplay or running on the deck is not allowed.
Hold Their Breath
Next, you’ll need to teach your child to hold their breath without plugging their nose. Teach by example and put your mouth and nose underwater then start blowing bubbles. You will sound like a motorboat and your kids will likely follow suit. If your child happens to breathe in while attempting this, help teach them by using a birthday candle reference. Pretend your finger is a birthday candle and have them pretend to blow it out. Then bring this technique underwater. Once they’ve mastered blowing bubbles, gradually decrease bubble blowing and increase just holding their breath.
This part may be a little intimidating, but it’s very important. Let your child know that you are going to fully submerge them, count to three, then quickly dunk them and bring them back up to the pool surface. Prepare for your child to be scared and mitigate their fear by ensuring them they will be just fine. When your child comes up gagging or coughing after the first couple of dunks, resist the urge to show concern and instead praise them.
Get The Kicking Down
Start with your kids sitting on the side of the pool with their feet in the water. Have them practice kicking and making big splashes. Next, have them enter the pool, hold on to the side, stretch their feet behind them, and practice kicking. Help guide them through appropriate kicking technique and strides. You want their legs as straight as possible with minimal splashing.
Add The Arms
Position your kids on the steps of the pool and have them practice the arm motions of swimming. Focus on how their hands move through the water and ensure they are completing full strokes.
Put It All Together
Bring your kids out into the middle of the pool and help them float on their stomach — with their head above water —by placing your hands under them to hold them up. Have them start kicking like they practiced then add in the arms. Walk with them as they move forward and keep your hand firmly on their stomach to keep them on the surface of the water. As they get more comfortable with the process, gradually remove your hands but keep walking with them in case they need help or get scared.
Create a Schedule
Keep sessions short to ensure your child is engaged the whole time. In the beginning, focus the entire session on learning to hold their breath and dunking. Once those two pieces are mastered, the sessions can transition to short segments of kicking, arm motions, and full swimming practice.
Like everything in life, practice makes perfect. Daily sessions or multiple sessions broken up throughout the day will help build swimming skills more quickly. Find what works best for your schedule and plan out the days and times of each session.
Make It Fun
Repeating the same drills every session could get boring and cause kids to lose focus. Incorporate fun games that can aid in the teaching process. You can also add additional pool toys like noodles and rafts to the mix and use those instead of the side of the pool for kicking practice.
Teaching your kids to swim at home can be a rewarding experience for everyone. Stick to a schedule and your kids will be swimming like fish in no time! If you’re reluctant to teach your kids to swim in your current pool because it is damaged or in need of a pool remodel, Pebble Technology International® can help. Find the perfect pebble pool surface for your outdoor space by using the PebbleTec Water Color Tool, and the best part is you can get your kids input by choosing the water color they want.