At What Age Should My Child Take Swimming Lessons?
When it comes to signing your child up for swimming lessons, there are a lot of questions to answer. When is my child ready to start learning how to swim? What should I bring? How will I know my child is progressing? To help answer these questions and give advice about when your child should start taking swim lessons, we sat down with Aquatics Director Krysta Cummings at the Lakewood Family YMCA. Here’s what she said:
It’s never too early to learn how to swim
Group swim lessons at the Y are offered for children as young as 6 months old. That’s when little ones can regulate their body temperature enough to spend that much time in the pool. However, you can introduce your child to the water at any age. Starting early can help your child learn to be comfortable in the pool and reduce the chances of them developing a fear of the water.
What should I expect at my child’s first swim lesson?
For your child’s very first swim lesson, it’s important to know that you’ll be going for a swim, too. Parent-Child Swim Lessons are designed for ages 6 months-3 years old and their parents. Beginner lessons introduce young children to the pool through exploration, where participants learn through songs and games. For young swimmers, repetition is an important part of the learning process, so you’ll notice that lessons are very similar week to week and new activities are added slowly.
You’ll be working with your child in the water along with a trained swim instructor. Lifeguards are also on hand to make sure that everyone is safe. Class sizes are kept small for safety and to allow our instructors to get to know you and your child. In Preschool Lessons (ages 3-5), the ratio of instructors to swimmers is 1:6; for School-Age Lessons (ages 6-12), the ratio is 1:6 for the lower levels and 1:8 in the more advanced levels.
Be present during the swim lesson
The most important thing you can bring for your child is you. Whether you’re in the pool or observing nearby, your child will look for you for validation. So, it’s important to put your phone away and be fully present. Offer positive reinforcement, smiles, high-fives, and thumbs-ups to let them know they’re doing well. If they start looking scared or frustrated, be there to reassure them. How you react will help shape their experience.
How can I help my child progress through swim lesson levels?
Between lessons, you can help your child master the skills they’re learning by practicing together. You can practice songs, activities, and games with them in the bath or bring the whole family to the Y for recreational swim time.
If you don’t see your child progressing as fast as some of their classmates, don’t worry. It’s better for them to progress slowly than to move up through the levels too fast and not be confident in themselves.
“Every child learns at a different pace,” Krysta says. “It’s okay if a child needs to repeat a level to gain the confidence they need to succeed at a higher level.”
Instructors are available before and after swim lessons to answer your questions and give suggestions about how to help your child continue to grow in their swimming abilities.
It’s never too late to learn, either
Just as it’s never too early to learn to love the water, it’s never too late to learn to swim, either. Anyone can learn to swim or improve their skills at any age. So, if you’re watching your child become a strong, safe, and confident swimmer and want to learn, too, you’re in luck! In addition to lessons for kids, the Y also offers adult swim lessons.