Has your child ever told you, ‘I don’t want to do swimming lessons anymore’? And going to each lesson after that turned out to be a challenge at home? Have you ever wondered how you could help your child to progress more easily and to have a smoother learn-to-swim journey?
As a mum to one child and as a swim teacher with 20 years’ experience, I have a pretty good idea on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to learning to swim. So please allow me to share with you a few simple things that you could do, or at least consider doing, to make your child’s learn-to-swim journey easier. Here are 3 basic steps to learn swimming easier:
Remember, not all children find learning to swim easy and they all learn at different speeds and none will master it all over the short term.
Yes, it does take longer when your children are learning something as complicated as swimming. In order to be a competent swimmer, a child should be completely at ease in the water (100% water confident), coordinated, have good muscular strength and stamina to swim continuously and with polished technique (we are not talking about doggy paddle).
It really does take time to build all these skills in a child. If a child consistently and continuously participates in properly planned and taught swim lessons, then all the necessary skills will be learnt. But it takes time.
So please be patient and try to avoid the common pitfall of comparing notes with other parents and carers (see also part 3)!
Unfortunately, regression is inevitable when there is no regular practice taking place. Whether it is speaking another language, playing a musical instrument or learning swimming, regular practice is vital. Practice is important not only for progression but also to maintain the acquired skills. Without regular practice, we all regress and that applies to adults as well as children.
Children who are still in the learning stages of swimming, particularly early on, tend to lose momentum and regress very quickly during long breaks.
I have seen this happen many times and there is enough science to back up this theory up.
When a child returns to swimming lessons after a long break, the teacher has to start from where a child is at that point of re-start not where he/she had been when lessons had stopped and this is something for parents to bear in mind.
When a child starts as a complete beginner, it takes a while for a teacher to build the trust needed to teach new skills to a child. When trust is formed and there is a good rapport between a teacher and a learner, the learner’s confidence grows. In swimming, when water-confidence improves, children normally start progressing more quickly because they can do the skill-building practices which previously they would have avoided due to nervousness and uncertainty. And then, step by step, the proper learning process starts by acquiring skills such as floating on front and back, kicking and blowing bubbles etc.
Now you can see why, as a swim teacher I feel it’s a shame when I hear people say, ’We are just stopping for the winter and will be back when weather is warm again.’
As a parent, please think of all that time, effort and energy that you have invested in your child, encouraging them to learn the basics of swimming before you decide to step away from it for a long break.
3) Swimming is a Competitive Sport; Learning To Swim Is Not!
Learning to swim is a step by step process. Accepting that all children are different and focusing just on your own child’s progression really could take the pressure off your child. I do have countless stories of how different kids learn to swim at different paces.
Parents having and communicating, however subtly, very high expectations about progression could take all the fun out of the learning process for the kids. Even twins don’t learn at the same pace when swimming.
So, please avoid comparisons to other children and remember that every child is different. If you have any concerns about your child’s learn-to-swim journey, please do talk to your child’s swim teacher directly.
If you have any questions about this blog or other blog please feel free to get in touch with us.