Learning how to swim is not only fun for kids, but it also teaches them confidence as they learn how to handle a new environment and helps protect them from harm if they accidentally fall into a body of water. To get the most out of your child's first swim lessons, it's important to get him comfortable in the water before handing him off to his teacher.
Your child's first encounter with water will be in the bathtub, which is the perfect place to start. It's in a familiar and safe environment and a parent will be right by her side. When your child can sit independently, put her in the tub with a few toys to make bath time extra fun, then teach your little one to splash with her hands and kick with her feet. To get her used to the feeling of a wet face, trickle water on her head so it runs over her face. If she doesn't seem to like the sensation, show her how to close her eyes and mouth to keep the water out.
Your child's first encounter with water outside of the tub will likely be at a local swimming pool or natural body of water. You know your kid best—he might be fearless and be ready to jump in immediately. Timid kids might need a little more time to test the waters. Don't force it. Allow the child all the time he needs. Before you visit the pool, lake, or ocean, show your child a video of the place you intend to visit so he's familiar with the sights and sounds before you get there.
When you arrive, let your child splash in the shallow waters at the shore or sit on the side of the pool dangling his feet in the water. When he seems comfortable, ask him to join you in deeper water. Hold your child firmly at first, working up to simply holding him lightly under the arms so he can get used to the feeling of buoyancy the water will give him. Be playful in the water. Bounce your child, pull him through the water, or put your face in the water and ask him to imitate you. This is the perfect time for a game of Simon Says! If you display comfort and confidence in the water, your child will too.
When your child is comfortable in the pool or other body of water, it's time to sign her up for swim lessons! There are plenty of schools of thought surrounding the best way to teach a child how to swim. Some are safety based, some are play based, and others will prepare a child for competitive sport. Do your research and sign your child up for the style that makes you both comfortable.
Swimming is a wonderful skill to have. Relax, have fun, and watch your child thrive in the water. Contact an establishment like YMCA of Greater Cincinnati to find information about swim lessons.