Author Topic: Teaching toddler to swim  (Read 9230 times)

GorgeousSteak

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Teaching toddler to swim
« on: April 21, 2016, 05:43:36 PM »
Anyone have useful resources on teaching a toddler to swim (3.5 yrs old)?  Swim classes just seem too expensive.  Seems like I should be able to handle this myself if I had a good resource.  I looked for books, but didn't find anything obviously great on amazon, and my library selection was even worse.  Any book that people can recommend, or an online resource, or anything else I'm not thinking of?

Kitsune

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2016, 06:03:40 PM »
Have you checked community centre swim classes? I don't know about where you are, but for us it works out to less than 8$ US per lesson, plus free access to the public pool during the rest of the week... It's not cheap, but it's not bad (also, it's good for tax credits, which helps... :))

abhe8

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2016, 06:26:06 PM »
You tube has a ton of options. I would start there. And then, just practice practice practice. I've found with my little ones, it takes a good bit of time in the water, having fun with mom or dad, to build the muscles and muscle memory.

mxt0133

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2016, 07:11:09 PM »
First of you have to make it fun.  My oldest liked lessons so we did that for him with lots of pool time outside lessons.  He learned quickly by 3 1/2 was on his own in 6ft water.  My second child hated lessons and just likes to float around in a tube and go around in circles.  We have tried lessons, no lessons, public pools, ect.  But no go, he just doesn't like being in the water without a tube.  I will try again this summer.

Basically every kid is different and you have to find out what works.  Or they might not be interested at all.  Also at such a young age they forget technique quickly if they are out of the water for a few weeks/months.  So I wouldn't invest/focus too much on proper technique at this age. 

If you are going to do it on your own, I would invest in goggles, kiddie fins or zoomers, and a floating device like a noodle or board.  These will help them build muscle strength, start with the legs.  Eventually they can go on one fin and then no fins.  Then you can work on arm strength by not using the other floating devices.  Again making it as much fun for them as possible like playing tag in or racing across the pool, ect.

Good luck and have fun!

calimom

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2016, 11:11:49 PM »
^^^^ X 1!

gimp

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2016, 11:31:42 PM »
Every kid is different.

A *ton* of kids learn by basically jumping in the water and swimming for whatever reason. Maybe because their friend is doing it.

You can basically do floaties + arm and leg movements until they seem to be swimming, then reduce and eventually remove the floaties.

Also, summer camps tend to teach kids to swim too.

Bee21

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2016, 12:11:26 AM »
I learnt how to swim in a river from the other kids when i was about 7. I am not a strong swimmer, but a safe one.

My kids learnt by the time they were 2 (true story)in the backyard pool just by splashing around. We spend a lot of time there in the summer. No lessons. At six she is faster than me, even though she has a weird doggie paddle technique. Will probably sign her up for swimming lessons next year, just to correct the technique. And they could snorkel at 3 in the ocean.i still remember the first time we threw her in at a small reef, she was just floating around happily with her mask until she saw the fish, when she went crazy. They just have this uncanny ability in the water, like doing triple sommersaults underwater etc. nobody taught them.  We always get the stares in public pools, when i am reading happily or just unpacking and the crazy 4 year old dives in and resurfaces on the other side. There are always people who try to save them and they just stare at us shocked when they realize that they can swim.

The only thing i strongly recommend is encouraging the kid to put her head under water, ie push her down a bit away from you, and let her resurface, they will get the hang of it quickly,  this worked great for my kids, they still spend most of their time underwater ( touching the bottom of the 2 m pool, just because they can). And definitely, the first thing is teach the kid is how to get out of the pool safely :)

 avoid those plastic armbands and whatnots, they give a false sense of security but they can drown wearing them and the don't encourage a good technique.

Astatine

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2016, 02:56:45 AM »
Ex-swimming teacher here.

My fellow swimming teachers who had kids always put their kids in to swimming lessons with other teachers. They were unanimous that the kids learnt far better with other teachers than with mum or dad.

And I know this should go without saying, but always supervise your kids when they're swimming, even if they can swim. Kids can drown so quickly and silently.

ltt

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2016, 05:02:35 AM »
Here is a checklist that might be helpful---this is what my daughter(s) learned when they took swim lessons.  They followed/are following the American Red Cross levels.  And it is/was fairly rigorous.  If they couldn't get some of the skills down, they didn't pass the class.  The only thing I didn't notice in here were the "times"/"distance" that the children had to follow.  For example, being able to do a skill for 30 seconds according to what level they are in, or being able to swim for 25 feet in another level.  Swim lessons are pricey, but, in my opinion, well worth the money.


http://www.larpd.org/aquatics/ARCSwimLevelsChart.pdf

mm1970

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2016, 01:55:48 PM »
So, I've got 2 kids, aged 10 and 3.5.  Here's the saga.

We live on the coast, so started swim lessons at around 3 or 4 for older son.  Some friends started kids in lessons at 6 weeks, and they were crazy expensive, like $200 for 9 weeks, what??  I thought that was crazy.
- Woman down the street with a pool.  $56 for 20 minutes, but I split it with a neighbor.  Um...he got more comfortable in the water?
- YMCA when he was four.  Only $55 for about 6 weeks, 30 min classes.  5 kids, one teacher. He wasn't into it.
- Local dive center, slightly larger class.  She was pushing him to do better, and said "I promise I won't let go of you", and she did.  Thanks a lot lady.  He was five.  We went to Hawaii and he refused to go into the pool unless we bought him a floatie.
- When he was 5, we joined the Y. We started going WITH him 2x a week just to play.  It finally clicked.  We signed him back up for regular swim lessons at the Y.  He got better.  Slowly.
- When he was 6 and 7, his summer camps and programs came with a week of swim lessons with the city.  30 min-1 hour a day for a week or two.  The combination of more access, doing it every day, and peer pressure = HUGE difference.
- By the time he was 7 or 8, he could swim 25 yards.  When he was 8, he came home from summer camp with a band on his wrist, signifying that he passed the uni swim test AND jumped from the high dive.  What??

Kid #2: I want him to be able to swim sooner than aged 8.
- At 18 months, tried Mommy and Me swim lessons.  Pool too cold, he's not into it.  After 2 sessions, ditched it.
- at 3, I had the opportunity to help a friend with her 2 yo twins at her private swim lessons. (You know those crazy people who put their kids in lessons as 6 week old babies and pay $200??)  I couldn't believe the level of swimming they were doing!
- so I signed him up age 3, and we are on our third session.  He's making MANY more strides than he was just going to the pool with us occasionally.  While he's certainly not swimming independently (my friend's twins can do a little bit), he's coming along.

So.  My own personal experience is that lessons are worth it and GOOD lessons are REALLY worth it.  I'd ask around.  The private lessons we are taking are amazing.  A few other places are amazing.  The city lessons, which are CHEAP are amazing, according to my neighbor.  (And if they are anything like the summer camp ones, then yes.)


Edited to add: we are paying $200 for nine 30-minute lessons
« Last Edit: April 22, 2016, 05:07:55 PM by mm1970 »

Kitsune

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2016, 02:14:25 PM »
Yeah... We pay 78$ (tax deductible) for 10 half-hour lessons, plus pool access during "free swim". My kid LOVES the pool.

Also... It's Sunday mornings. So my husband and my daughter go off, get changed go swimming, and come home for hot chocolate, which gives the mama (aka: me) an uninterrupted 2 hours of reading AND a toddler who is learning to swim, and she loves spending that time with her dad. Best 8$/lesson ever spent. :)

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2016, 05:44:37 PM »
I taught swim lessons for many years. For a toddler, the most important thing is that the kids are comfortable in the water. This means that they aren't afraid and see the water as a fun place. In my classes we play lots of games to get kids to do the following skills:
- blow bubbles (mouth and nose)
- put their face in
- jump off the side to you (head above water)
- kick their feet
- make paddling motions while kicking (more for coordination than movement, as I am holding a kid this age)

Around age 4, kids progress to the following skills
- being able to hold their breath and keep their face in for longer
- breath control: take a breath, put your head down, blow it all out through your nose, come up and repeat.
- working on floating (back and front)
- kicking to move forward (usually while holding on to some kind of float toy)
- making paddling motions that push the water behind them
- jumping off the side and going under water before you catch them.

Eventually when your kid can float for 10 seconds back and front unsupported you work on kicking a floating together, and then add in arms, and then you're swimming.

Some kids will listen to their parents (or some parents are good at making these skills into fun games rather than something that feels like work) while others are much better behaved for strangers. If you decide want to do lessons, you might consider a YMCA, they might be cheaper. Also, ,sometimes it's great to have kids do one set of lessons to learn some basics and then follow that up with lots of pool play time where they can practice and get more comfortable, and then go back for another set of lessons when they are ready to progress.

nvmama

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2016, 05:52:35 PM »
How is swimming lessons tax deductible?  I ask because I just signed my 2 kids (5 and 8) up for lessons through the ymca.  I understand how they would be when part of day camps, but just the lessons I'd never heard of.

GuitarStv

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2016, 06:05:53 PM »
I was scared of swimming as a toddler, and my dad figured that the best way to confront your fears was head on.  So he tossed me into the water in the pool.  When I sank to the bottom and didn't re-appear he fished me out.  I stayed the hell away from water until grade 2.  Although I did eventually learn to swim well enough to get my lifeguard certification, I would not recommend my dad's approach.

Kitsune

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2016, 06:32:41 PM »
How is swimming lessons tax deductible?  I ask because I just signed my 2 kids (5 and 8) up for lessons through the ymca.  I understand how they would be when part of day camps, but just the lessons I'd never heard of.

Canada/Quebec has tax credits for children's sports and cultural activities.

mxt0133

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2016, 08:35:31 PM »
I was scared of swimming as a toddler, and my dad figured that the best way to confront your fears was head on.  So he tossed me into the water in the pool.  When I sank to the bottom and didn't re-appear he fished me out.  I stayed the hell away from water until grade 2.  Although I did eventually learn to swim well enough to get my lifeguard certification, I would not recommend my dad's approach.

Unfortunately that was my wife's experience and although she has taken adult swimming lesson can actually swim.  She was just too traumatized by the experience and that the only reason see would jump in deep water is to save our kids, which will probably be not successful because she isn't a strong enough swimmer to carry a child in the water.

obstinate

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2016, 11:29:48 PM »
My mom and dad taught us how to swim. I taught a friend how to swim in high school. It's not that hard. Spend time in the water. Hold them while they kick. Show them it can be fun. Show them how to float.

If they can follow instructions, then I'll bet if you just try it you'll have no problems.


APowers

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2016, 10:44:06 PM »
Show them how to float.

This is the tricky part for me. I can show them how to float....down to the bottom. I can swim*, but I cannot tread water, let alone float passively to save my life.

*not well, but enough to get me to back to the boat if I fall out, or enough to make it all the way across a pool without too much trouble.

GorgeousSteak

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2016, 04:40:14 PM »
Thanks for all the replies!  I live in a HCOL area, and most of the lessons I've come across are more expensive that what some of you guys are saying.  If it was 8 bucks a lesson, I'd probably just throw that down and try it out.  I also feel likes theres this weird peer pressure to get your kid to swim early, like its some badge of honor or something.  Kind of like the Ivy League Preschool syndrome thing that drives parents to put their kids is soccer/baseball/gymnastics/painting/music when they are 2.  But, its normally justified by treating this like its a safety concern.  I've seen some kids at private lessons, just crying the whole time and going crazy.  And I've heard other kids at the pool whose parents have told me had lessons and they don't look like they've acquired any skills.  But then of course others are like super advanced diving to get rings and all sorts of stuff.  So, I'm trying to resist all these expectations, and let it happen more naturally, have it be more fun, cheaper, etc.  I think I'll watch some youtubes, buy a few more accessories, definitely a board to help with learning how to kick, and maybe flippers.  And then I'll just try to start actually teaching sometimes rather than just doing whatever at the pool.

obstinate

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2016, 06:59:41 PM »
Apowers, you should learn. It is not that hard. If you are regularly in a boat, you should be, at a minimum, a strong swimmer.

GuitarStv

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2016, 01:08:40 PM »
Apowers, you should learn. It is not that hard. If you are regularly in a boat, you should be, at a minimum, a strong swimmer.

Or obese.  Fat people float much more easily and don't have to swim as hard to stay up.

Hotstreak

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2016, 01:35:35 PM »
As another former long-time swimming instructor I agree with everything SilveradoBojangles said!


Thanks for all the replies!  I live in a HCOL area, and most of the lessons I've come across are more expensive that what some of you guys are saying.  If it was 8 bucks a lesson, I'd probably just throw that down and try it out.  I also feel likes theres this weird peer pressure to get your kid to swim early, like its some badge of honor or something.  Kind of like the Ivy League Preschool syndrome thing that drives parents to put their kids is soccer/baseball/gymnastics/painting/music when they are 2.  But, its normally justified by treating this like its a safety concern.  I've seen some kids at private lessons, just crying the whole time and going crazy.  And I've heard other kids at the pool whose parents have told me had lessons and they don't look like they've acquired any skills.  But then of course others are like super advanced diving to get rings and all sorts of stuff.  So, I'm trying to resist all these expectations, and let it happen more naturally, have it be more fun, cheaper, etc.  I think I'll watch some youtubes, buy a few more accessories, definitely a board to help with learning how to kick, and maybe flippers.  And then I'll just try to start actually teaching sometimes rather than just doing whatever at the pool.

A few things come to mind while reading your post:
-  A good instructor can teach most kids, and most kids will like them.  If your kid doesn't get along with the instructor or they aren't doing a good job teaching you should try other instructors until you find one you both like (then stick with them for all your future lessons).
-  I've seen many people drown as a former lifeguard and it's scary how fast and silent it is.  Obviously we pulled those people out of the water, but many places like community pools or backyard pools or lakes are not well supervised, and kids die every year.
-  If you have your own pool then a board or noodle is all you should need.  If you're going to a local pool, they should already have boards that you can use.  You shouldn't need fins for their feet - fins develop strength for competitive swimmers, not technique for new swimmers. 

GizmoTX

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2016, 01:37:46 PM »
We used Infant Swim Resource (infant swim.com) with DS, starting when he was 18 months old. At this age, he did lessons for just 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 3 weeks, one on one with a trained instructor in a heated pool. ISR teaches a child, even non-verbal, to come to the surface & roll on his back to get air. A toddler is taught to then roll over to paddle to the steps, pool side, or shore, rolling on his back whenever he needs air. "Graduation" is being able to do this fully clothed. We repeated ISR every summer & didn't have DS learn strokes until he was 5. He learned to snorkel at 4.

This type of training is crucial because an untrained child who falls into water WILL SINK TO THE BOTTOM AND WAIT FOR HELP. I have seen this with my own eyes with a friend's 2 year old -- the child could have simply stood up, but was so scared that he didn't move.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #23 on: April 26, 2016, 02:17:07 PM »
Here in South Florida, all the swim instructors I've spoken with say NOT to use floaties.  We paid a ridiculous amount for flip-and-float lessons for our oldest at 6 months when he started to crawl.  He learned to flip and float--it was a survival lesson in case he fell into our pool (which was fenced, so not likely, but still).  I didn't do it for the other 2 kids b/c it was hard to watch and quite inconvenient.  He cried a LOT.  It was the ISR course.  It worked, but I didn't like it.

When he was 3 and our second child was 18 months old, we hired a private instructor who came to the house every day for a week.  She had them both swimming to the wall in the first lesson and used the rest of the week to extend the length of their swim.  Yes, swimming in the first day.  Half hour or 40 minutes of lessons between the two of them. 

Our instructor walked the kids around the pool for a minute to get them used to the water/temp.  She ducked under the water with them face to face so they'd have to hold their breath ("no blowing bubbles!", she said, "we want them to hold their breath!").  Then she walked with them back on forth in the pool, with the kid leaning on her right shoulder while she moved the kid's legs back and forth in a crawling motion, saying "ready, set, go" as she started and "kick, kick, kick" the whole walk.  She also brought them over to the wall and put their hands on the edge and told them that they would be swimming to this part of the wall soon.  After about 7 minutes of that, she stood about two feet from the wall and said, "ready, set, go!"  She put them face down in the water and pushed them by their bottoms or even the back of the head in the direction of the wall, while yelling "KICK! KICK! KICK!" so they could hear her under the water.  Both of them got to the wall on the first try and even pulled themselves out.

Both kids cried the first day.  By the 3rd day, the 3 year old was running into the pool to swim with her, smiling.  The baby was never happy with her but was able to swim across the pool by the end of the week.  She didn't love to swim until she was 3 but she could do it--safety was our first priority, having a swimming pool and living in Florida.  They are both now huge swimmers.  We didn't hire the instructor for the 3rd kid b/c DH just did the same technique himself.  It worked.  All three of our kids swim almost daily between April and November.

As our swim instructor said, "Safety first.  Fun later."  I quote this advice often.

acroy

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Re: Teaching toddler to swim
« Reply #24 on: April 26, 2016, 02:24:57 PM »
=We have 6 kids, all swim but the 1yr old, all learned in our backyard pool, all self-taught. We tried a ton of methods and gizmos.
The best has been one of these http://www.supercoolbaby.com/pictures/waterwings.jpg (not my kid)
Let them play in the water as much as they like with the 'wings' on. They learn pretty quick. By age 2, maybe 3 max, they want out, and can swim on their own.
Best of luck!