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Our almost-three year old has taken an interest in the pool, and I'm interested in techniques to teach him swimming fundamentals. I saw this question, which had some good tips, but I'm specifically interested in how I can teach some of these things effectively.

We've been working on things like kicking, lying on back, floating, etc., but not having a lot of luck because he doesn't really understand what we're trying to have him do. When we ask him to kick, he does, but he kicks straight down, for example; even when we try to show him how to kick properly to propel himself he doesn't go anywhere. (He's in a Type V life jacket much of the time, as he is most comfortable like that, but we've done it without a life jacket.)

What techniques are most effective at teaching swimming to a toddler/young preschooler?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

I used to teach swimming lessons, and I found the easiest way to teach a young child swimming was to compare it to things. Glides weren't "front glides", they were "rocket ship glides", and so we'd put on our space suits and the blast off. I'd tell them the jets went behind them so they'd figure out how to kick. Back glides are spiderman glides, because you shoot off the wall the same way.

One massive tip is to not progress too quickly. In swimming, they need to know how to float in the proper position before they can kick in the proper position. Otherwise you'll get kids who try to do back glides by shoving their face under water because they looked back too far.

Once he gets a bit better, you can get him to do things like kicking a flutterboard while he's on his stomach, or get him to go through things.

I've always found that PFD's will actually hinder a child kicking on their front. They can float on their backs and kick fine, but when they're on their fronts they'll stay mostly upright and it makes it difficult for them to kick properly. Just a tip!

Good luck!

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+1 for taking advantage of the kid's imagination. –  Doc Jun 10 at 19:14

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