You’ve put your kids in swim lessons. They’ve learned the basics. But how can they retain these swimming skills? A question I often get is, “How can I help my child?” or “How can I teach my child how to swim?” The short answer is “practice practice practice.” But hopefully this post will give you some practical ideas to help your children continue to do well in water and build their swimming skills.
1. Swim year-round
After your kids have taken lessons, you should make sure they continue to get exposure to the pool/water. Try to visit the pool continuously throughout the year. Visit friends that have outdoor pools for the summer time, and find indoor pools to go to during the colder months. You can also have your kids repeat lessons at different times throughout the year, so they continue to get the exposure. Having different instructors can also help them learn in different ways, since each instructor might have their own way of teaching a particular skill. It is important that kids get the opportunity to continue with the swimming skills they learned, so they can further practice and develop them.
2. Practice at home
There are several swimming skills your kids can practice at home. They can blow bubbles and practice dipping their face in the tub. They can practice kicking, both on their tummies and on their backs. They can practice putting their heads back and ears in the water while on their backs. Let them get comfortable in the water. If they are afraid, you can also have them take showers so they get more used to water running over their bodies/faces.
3. Work on strength
It is helpful to have kids build stamina and strength out of the water, so they can use this increased strength once they get in the water. Bear crawls and crab walks can help get those arms and legs stronger on the land, so they can have more power in the water and get better with those kicks and pulls.
To help kids imagine what certain swimming skills/strokes look like, they can close their eyes and imagine themselves laying in the water and swimming perfectly across the pool. To understand what it ultimately is supposed to look like, they can even watch videos of pro swimmers. I especially recommend this practice for older kids or kids who are further along in their skill progressions.
5. Review safety tips
It is important to review swimming skills but also safety tips at home. Let your child know what to do around water. Let them know that there always needs to be an adult present when swimming. Teach them what lifeguards do, what they are for, and what children can ask them for. If they ever were to fall into the water, make sure kids know to (fall)-push-turn-grab (see my swim basics article for more information on that). Your local pools may have some “Safety around Water” courses as well. Click here for more helpful safety tips from a new swim school in town.
Before you can call your family “summer-ready” for water play, you should consider these five tips. Kids should swim when they can any time during the year, keep practicing at home, work on their strength, visualize if they are at the right stage, and review the safety tips around water.
When are you going to the pool next?!