When Are Your Kids Ready for Swim Lessons?

Unless you are one of the lucky few, your three or four-year old is not going to tap you on the shoulder one day and say, “Mom, I am ready for swim lessons. Please sign me up at your earliest convenience.” In fact, even most older kids are not going to come up with the idea on their own (unless, of course, their best friend is doing it and loving every minute of it). So it’s up to us, the parents, to figure things out on our own—like many other things.

So how do you know if the time is right? Is there an ideal age? Even the experts don’t agree on the answer to that question. Most would say that if you have a backyard swimming pool, it’s never too early to get your kids into swim lessons. In fact, Infant Self-Rescue (ISR) is a program designed to train a baby 6-12 months of age to roll onto its back and float in the water.

How to tell when your kids are ready for swim lessons - tips, and signs to look out for

But when can children start to learn swimming techniques? While there is no perfect time, most experts (including parents!) will agree: the earlier the better. In fact, as soon as possible! Even if your child has not expressed interest in going to the community pool, and you aren’t a boat or pool owner yourself, chances are that at some time in your child’s young life, he or she will be exposed to a body of water and will need and or want to know how to swim.

The other side of the story is that swimming lessons early in life expose children to a positive, healthy activity that will help their sense of accomplishment, self-confidence and sense of community. Swim teams are common in communities, and having an alternative option to the more popular sports programs, like soccer, baseball or basketball will give a child a sense of control over their own destiny. For children who may not gravitate toward traditional team sports, swimming is a sport and activity that may be performed by oneself, yet in the company of others, thereby catching two butterflies with one net!

That said, there are some simple markers that could indicate when your child is ready for swim instruction. Keep in mind that overly-cautious children sometimes need to be nudged out of their comfort zones in order to succeed at something and feel that sense of accomplishment they might otherwise not experience. On the flip side, extremely adventurous children would do well to have formal swimming instruction under their belt, so to speak, as yet another “layer of protection” in the event they find themselves in the water unintentionally, or by way of biting off more than they can chew.

Is your child ready for swimming lessons? Signs to look out for to know that its time to start swim lessonsHere are a few things to consider when thinking about your child and swim lessons:

  • After the initial resistance, does my child enjoy bath time? Is he or she adventurous (putting head under while playing) and playful in the bathtub? 
  • Does my child express interest in going into a swimming pool when visiting friends with pools or driving by community pools?
  • Is my child often around pools, lakes, rivers or the ocean?
  • Is my child in good health, with no allergy or developmental issues that would prohibit them from learning to swim? (Note: Adaptive swim programs are widely available in most regions, and if they are not, local swim instruction by a qualified community member may be found with a simple ad on social media.)

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time for you to look into swim lessons for your baby, toddler or young child. Swimming is a lifelong skill and enjoyable pastime that can be enjoyed for one’s entire life!

Kaitlin Gardner started AnApplePerDay.com to further her passion for a family friendly, green living lifestyle. She is married to her college sweetheart and lives in Pennsylvania. She and her husband enjoy going for long hikes, to get out and enjoy nature. She is working on her first book about ways to live an eco-friendly, healthy, natural life.

 Image: Kid girl swimming on blue tiles on vacation Shutterstock (modified) // Girl in swimming pool Shutterstock