The Best Ways to Teach Your Kids How to Swim

If you are looking for how to teach your kids to swim at home, look no further!

This guide on the best ways to teach your kids to swim explores everything you need to know. From safety precautions to the steps needed to teach swimming basics, we have you covered.

Keep reading to learn all about giving your child the best possible swim instruction from the comfort of your own backyard.

Before You Begin: Safety Precautions for New Swimmers

The first step to teaching your child how to swim at home is to ensure you have all the necessary safety precautions in place.

Here are 4 crucial components to at-home pool safety:

1. Safety Equipment

Basic safety equipment that any pool-owner should have include:

  • Life Vests and Floaties: Personal flotation devices such as life vests and floaties are wearable equipment that helps swimmers float above water. These are useful for both children and adults who lack strong swimming skills.
  • Flotation Devices: A popular flotation device to have on hand for a home pool is a buoy ring. These devices will generally have a rope or cord attached and are used to rescue swimmers who are struggling to stay above water.
  • Proper Lighting: When you install a pool, having proper outdoor and pool lighting is essential. This will help children and adults alike to avoid accidental trips or falls into the pool. It also helps eliminate more danger during dark hours.
  • First Aid Kit: Having a stocked first-aid kit nearby your pool is always a good idea. With this kit, you may also want to store extra sunscreen and sun protection supplies to avoid unwanted sunburns (and grumpy kiddos!).

Additional equipment to consider purchasing includes cameras and pool alarm systems that help you monitor what is happening in your backyard.

2. Adult Supervision

Having a pool in your backyard can add a lot of flair and excitement to your home. However, it also adds a new layer of risk – especially if you have small children.

Whenever you are teaching your children to swim, there must be always an adequate amount of adult supervision present. Ideally, there should be at least one adult per 1 to 2 children learning to swim. Kids who cannot yet swim well should also always be wearing a life vest or floaties.

This need for adult supervision also extends past when a child learns to swim properly. For a home pool to remain a safe environment, an adult should always be present when kids are at play.

3. Courses and Certifications

Accidents happen, and knowing how to react and respond in an emergency situation is critical.

If you have a pool or plan to install a pool that you will use to teach your children to swim, you should be knowledgeable on safety and health basics.

Here are 3 key courses and certifications to consider when you own a pool:

  • Water Safety Course: Water safety courses are designed to teach parents and responsible adults the risks of drowning and how to minimize and eliminate such risks. There is typically a special focus on preventing child drownings, who are most at risk in such situations. American Red Cross offers a free water safety course for parents and caregivers.
  • First Aid: First aid training and certification is usually covered and achieved within a single-day course. This two-year certification provides parents and adults with the resources and skills needed to help administer care in emergencies.
  • CPR/Child CPR: Should a near-drowning incident occur, having a CPR certification gives parents the skills they need to restore a child’s breathing and heartbeat. This is a lifesaving technique that is highly important to know when waiting for emergency responders.

Preparing Your Child to Swim

Once you have the proper safety measures in place, it’s time to consider a few important factors that will impact your child’s swimming ability.

These include:

  • Age: Age is arguably one of the most important factors to consider when teaching a child to swim. While children will not become strong swimmers until age 4 or older, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends beginning swimming lessons as early as 1-year-old to help protect against drowning.
  • Health: Before introducing any new form of exercise into your child’s routine, it is key to consult with a doctor or pediatrician. They will help to ensure that your child is healthy enough to begin swimming. If your child has a health condition of any kind, regular check-ups throughout their swimming lessons may be needed.
  • Athletic Ability: Every kid is different, and some children will pick up on swimming easier than others. It is essential to be mindful of your child’s athletic ability level and allow them to improve at their own pace.

The Steps for Teaching Your Child to Swim

Below we have listed the steps for teaching your child to swim from home, separated into three main age groups:

  • Toddlers: Ages 2 and under
  • Pre-Schoolers: Ages 3 to 5
  • Older Children: Ages 6 and up

It is important to note that if you do not feel comfortable as your child’s swim instructor, you can always hire an at-home instructor to help with their watery education. Alternatively, you may choose to enroll your child in local swim classes and have them practice these skills at home under your supervision.

Teaching Toddlers to Swim (Ages 2 and Under)

While infants can be held in water, the youngest age that can be taught swimming skills is typically around one year old. One to two-year-olds will generally require a high level of attentiveness throughout the training period.

Here are the steps for teaching toddlers to swim:

  • Hold your child and slowly carry them into the water. If they have not been exposed to water before, give them time to adjust and overcome any fear they may feel.
  • Lock your child’s arms around your neck and begin guiding their bodies through the water. This imitates the feeling of swimming and moving through water. It also allows you to teach about floating and how to properly position one’s body and head above water.
  • With the child’s arms still around your neck, gently move their legs in the kicking motion. Once they appear to understand the motion, encourage them to kick on their own.
  • Demonstrate how to float on your back by having them lay face-up horizontally. Support their flotation with your hands from beneath their body.

For kids in this very young age range, dipping under the water may be overwhelming. Approach this topic once they have mastered feeling comfortable in the water and floating, or when they have reached an older age.

Teaching Pre-Schoolers to Swim (Ages 3 to 5)

Pre-schoolers will have greater physical and mental ability than toddlers. This will allow them to tackle the basics covered in the “Teaching Toddlers to Swim” section with greater ease. If your pre-schooler has never been exposed to water before, however, be sure to cover these basics before moving on to more advanced lessons.

Here are the steps for teaching pre-schoolers to swim following once they have learned the basics:

  • Get your child used to going underwater and holding their breath. Blowing bubbles with their nose is a good way to teach them how to avoid getting water up their nose while submerged. If full-submersion causes your child anxiety, demonstrate for them with your own body or offer your body as support.
  • Have your child assume the swimming position and hold their hands in front of them. With their nose above water, teach your child to kick to propel themselves forward. This step will also teach them how to hold their chest up to keep their head above water.
  • Before moving onto arm movements, teach your child about treading water. Have them enter the water in a vertical position and walk forward until their toes are barely touching the floor. From here, demonstrate the treading motion.
  • Teach the basic arm movements of swimming. As one arm reaches forward, the other should be underwater and pulled back towards the hips.
  • Put it all together and have your child practice treading into deeper water and then using the arm and leg movements to swim. Always accompany small children in deep water and ensure they are wearing life vests or floaties.

Teaching Older Children to Swim (Ages 6 and Up)

If you are teaching an older child to swim for the first time, you will still need to cover each of the basics learned in the toddler and pre-schooler stages. Once your child is comfortable with the basic limb movements, treading techniques, and floating, you can move on to teaching them how to swim properly on their own.

After the basics, here are the steps for teaching older children to swim:

  • Educate your child on how to move their legs and arms in unison. You want to improve the fluidity and consistency of these movements.
  • Teach your child how to rotate their head from side to side to breathe while swimming. The basic rule is that the face should be facing away from the forward-extended arm.
  • Have your child practice independent swimming. This simply means that they do the movements on their own without your physical support. For deeper pools, ensure they are wearing the proper safety gear.
  • Once they have the basics down, you can discuss with them whether or not they want to pursue swimming lessons further. These can be taught at home or sought out from licensed trainers. If you choose to go the home-teaching route, focus on teaching them the four most common strokes first:
    • Freestyle
    • Breaststroke
    • Backstroke
    • Sidestroke

Final Thoughts: Teach Your Kid to Swim with All Seasons Pools and Spas!

Here at All Seasons Pools and Spas, we offer the perfect above-ground pools to transform your backyard into a swim school academy!

Our Doughboy brand pools come in a variety of sizes and capacity levels, allowing you to choose the product that best fits your family and lifestyle. With the help of our expert team, you can find the ideal pool according to your budget and goals.

Give us a call or visit one of our showrooms today to learn more about how we can help enhance your backyard. We have six showrooms in the Sacramento area including Roseville, Granite Bay, Shingle Springs, Grass Valley, and North Auburn.