6 Tips for Teaching Kids to Swim - Family Traveller (USA)

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One of the best parts of any getaway that takes you to the beach or pool is actually getting in the water, whether that means splashing around and diving under the waves, or just enjoying floating in the calm water on your back.

Vacation is the perfect time for kids to learn how to become confident swimmers in the pool or on the beach. But making sure new swimmers have fun in the water while also having peace of mind that they can hold their own both in the deep end and in the waves takes a bit of work. Here are a few tips that will help even the littlest swimmers have full confidence in their water-treading abilities and get them cannon-balling off the diving board in no time.

 

 Boy playing in water

1/6  Bringing up baby bubble-maker

The hardest part of teaching a brand new swimmer is convincing them to get their face in the water. It goes against all instincts. But once they finally do it and realize they can hold their breath, blow bubbles and see underwater, they won't be so scared anymore. You can help ease this transition by making it a fun game that focuses on just one easy aspect.

Get comfortable together in a quiet spot on the pool steps. Keep eye contact and talk soothingly while you slowly submerge your shoulders – your tiny wannabe might just want to sit and watch at first. Gently put your mouth under the water and blow a stream of bubbles. Come up instantly, big smile. Repeat a few times and most kids can be persuaded to give bubble-making a go for themselves.

Quick tip

Smiling eye contact is essential, even when your mouth’s underwater, so sunglasses are a definite no-no for this one.

Boy-on-edge-of-pool

2/6  Come on in, the water’s fine

The best perk of teaching kids to swim while on vacation is getting to hang out in hot, sunny weather with warm water where you have plenty of space, as opposed to a crowded pool at home.

Sunny afternoons on vacation, when the pool’s had a chance to heat up a little, are perfect learning conditions for little swimmers. Just remember water feels quite a bit cooler than air so don’t stay in too long, especially with under twos.

Quick tip

Even if the weather’s sunny, have a towel handy to wrap kids in for instant warmth and comfort as soon as they come out of the water.

Baby with dad in water

3/6  One, two, three or ready, steady, go

Putting your head in the water for the first time and learning to splash around is already pretty shocking. Avoid any setbacks by minimizing shock value and being clear and upfront at all times.

Explain exactly what you’re about to do, whether it’s blowing bubbles or letting go for a second. If possible, demonstrate first and make it look easy and fun. Keep all your movements slow and gentle, talk calmly and softly and reassure constantly. Then have a countdown: one, two, three for older kids or ready, steady, go with toddlers. And ‘go’, is only when they’re happy to ‘go’ and never before.

Quick tip 

Don’t force any moves if kids aren’t completely ready. Take a break from the pool, do something different and then come back and try again.

Swim jacket on girl

4/6  Swap floaties for the freedom of swim jackets

No surprise to find children get pretty attached to floaties. If you need proof, try to persuade a novice swimmer to let go of one. So think swim jackets with removable floats instead. Kids wear them, so their arms are free and swimming feels like swimming right away. It’s easier for you to get in close and create a sense of comfort. Plus, discretely taking away floats as they progress, won’t cause instant panic.

Award winning Konfidence Swim Jackets are ideal from 18 months onwards. Designed in soft neoprene with eight removable floats they’re light and soft and give kids freedom of movement while keeping them securely afloat at the same time. So even when you aren’t teaching swim skills, playing’s easier and any instructor will tell you having fun in the water is the best way to learn.

Quick tip

Even kids who swim never notice they’re too tired in the water, until they are. Swim Jackets are an excellent coping mechanism for those times and the high-vis back lets you spot your own little fish fast in crowded pools.

5/6  Every little swimmer should start off slow

It's hard to put yourself in a kids shoes and see just how scary even the baby pool or shallow end can seem. Try to remember their perspective and have understanding that for them, this might as well be the deep ocean.

Hold hands, walk as far as the first pool step, sit down together and splash your feet gently. Have a look around, talk about what you both see, stay close and comforting. When you’re ready to move into the water a little further, head to the next step down.

Quick tip

It’s amazing how many kids don’t know they can stand up in the pool. Make it your mission to have that basic comfort-zone pointed out as soon as possible, it really does help.

Swim-Jacket

6/6  Three simple essentials for happy holiday swimming

Nothing will make a kid miserable and not want to try swimming again like too much learning too soon, tummy cramps or sore ears. To ensure kids have the best time possible, take a few easy precautionary measures and make sure you're tuned in and listening to any discomfort they might be experiencing.

15 to 20 minutes is about the maximum for teaching a two to four year old anything useful in the pool. Make sure your little swimmers haven’t eaten for at least an hour before going into the water. Always pack eardrops; it doesn’t take much for young kids to pick up infections in swimming pools and that could mean an entire holiday of sleepless nights – lucky you.

Quick tip

Disposable silicone or wax earplugs, designed for babies and young kids, won’t harm delicate ears and will keep water out. Look for hypo-allergenic and organic brands.