Swimming lessons for toddlers generally focus on making the child comfortable in the water. Though the American Academy of Pediatrics previously stated that a kid under the age of 4 is not developmentally ready for formal swimming lessons, the organization recently gave the OK for a child this young to receive formal instruction if the parents feel he or she is ready. Fun water games can be useful for teaching toddlers how to swim.
Talking to the Fishies
An important part of learning how to swim is getting used to putting your face under water. The game called "Talking to the Fishies" is a good start for toddlers. In this game, tell the child to "talk to the fishies" by putting his mouth in the water and blowing bubbles. He then raises his head up and puts an ear close to the surface of the water to see if he can "hear" what the fishies are saying back. He'll be having so much fun trying to talk to fish that he won't notice he is also learning how to blow bubbles under water.
Red Light, Green Light
Kicking is another key component of swimming, so "Red Light, Green Light" is a playful way to introduce toddlers to this skill, as per Today's Parent website. The children will hold onto the side of the pool with both hands and when the teacher shouts, "Green light," they kick like crazy, and when she shouts, "Red light," they stop.
You can introduce the front floating position with a song called "Motorboat, Motorboat." Hold your toddler under his arms with him facing you. Walk backward with a little speed, which will propel your child into a front float. Change your speed from slow to fast and sing the lyrics, "Motorboat, motorboat, go so slow. Motorboat, motorboat, go so fast. Motorboat, motorboat…step on the gas!"
Finding Fun Objects
Drop objects into the shallowest pool area for an older toddler to retrieve. At this age, he will need the assistance of the teacher to lower him down to grab the object, which could be an action figure or a brightly colored plastic fish, for example. Explain that he must "rescue" the item from the bottom after taking a deep breath first. He should first learn that when the teacher says "three," it's time to hold his breath. Ask him if he is ready and wait for a response. Then say, "one, two, three," as warning and then gently lower him under the water, as per Happy Swimmers USA swim school. If a child isn't ready to go underwater, you can help him "rescue" the fishies from the surface by using floating objects instead.
- American Academy of Pediatrics: AAP Gives Updated Advice on Drowning Prevention
- Today's Parent: Teach Kids Swimming with Five Fun and Easy Games
- "Parents": Teach Your Child to Swim
- The Swim Professor, Jim Reiser, M.S.: Swimming Lessons for Preschoolers: Getting Started
- Happy Swimmers USA: General Philosophy
- YMCA of Greater Providence: Swim Lessons Guide
- Houston Swim Club (HSC): HSC Song Lyrics
- Happy Swimmers USA: Swim Lesson Tips