Nabaiji offers you some advice on introducing your child to swimming with gentle learning.
1. The Age To Learn To Swim
Strictly speaking, there is no ideal age to learn how to swim and it depends on each child. The earlier is of course the better, but in general, before the age of six we talk more about familiarisation with water rather than actually learning to swim.
From preschool, swimming lessons are included in sport education programmes. It is an opportunity for children to get to know a new environment, to introduce them to swimming or to help them progress.
Indeed, the first obstacle in learning how to swim for children is often a fear of water. On the contrary, if children are familiarised with water early (for example baby swimming), they will be less anxious approaching water. Children must first of all be reassured, have confidence in themselves and have fun.
2. Introduction To Swimming
Once you see that your child is accustomed to the water, is having fun and has now started to laugh and splash around water. This is a great time to bond with them and have a fun session before you start to actually learn swimming.
To begin teaching your children to swim you can start with the basics of floating, propulsion and movement in the water using armbands, a noodle or other floating equipment.
Little by little and without haste (your child is the only decision-maker), you can begin to remove the safetydevices while remaining all the more vigilant. Then try getting him to put his head under the water, float on his back or push against the wall with his feet. If your child feels at ease with these exercises, he is ready!
For children, the easiest stroke to introduce is the breaststroke. They can learn the leg ("frog") and arm movements using a noodle by dissociating the upper and lower limbs. You can then hold them by the waist so that they can attempt to perform the movements simultaneously. Once the concept has been grasped, allow them to try it for themselves over short distances, by remaining extremely vigilant and in an area where they can touch the bottom.
The big pool is reserved for when they are at ease and have confidence in themselves and have free movement in the water.
3. Swimming Lessons
Once you have had your swimming sessions with your child, had a great time and bonded with them over this activity. Even if you have played the swimming instructor for a while to teach them the basics and they have made some progress, there is nothing better than swimming lessons appropriate for their age and level. Swimming lessons can be given in community swimming pools (individual or club lessons), holiday clubs or even at home. You can sign them up for these kinds of lessons from the age of six.
Here learning will be more related to the techniques of swimming itself rather than play. It will mainly be based on the crawl. It should be noted however that an experienced swimming instructor can teach a child to swim 25 metres independently in only ten 30-minute sessions.
For children who are too big for baby swimming and not comfortable enough in the waterto learn how to swim, certain pools offer aqua-kids sessions. These aim to familiarise children with water and let them progress with others of the same age in this environment.
To teach children how to swim, the key is to know how to reassure them, encourage them and get them to have confidence in themselves. Do not rush things; listen to them, let them have fun and enjoy themselves in the water and give them advice. They will soon be swimming with their own two flippers!