When It’s Time for Swimming Lessons

Kids as young as four are ready to learn to swim.

By FamilyTime


Most parents want their kids to learn to swim as soon as they can, but experts agree that children younger than four years old are not developmentally ready for swimming. They can learn to enjoy the water, but they can’t swim.

By the time they reach four, children’s muscle development and emotional age allow them to master the basics of swimming. This means that as the years go by, they turn into safe, responsible swimmers.

You may not be in the position to give your child swimming lessons until he is six or seven, but if at all possible don't wait much longer. Learning to swim is a safety issue and the older someone waits to master it, the more difficult it becomes.

Watery Benefits

Learning to swim is also fun and kids who are comfortable in the water can look forward to hours of good times in pools, lakes, and oceans. Strong swimmers are good candidates for other water sports, too, such as water skiing, boating, and sailing. And they might decide to become life guards, which can be a terrific summer job.

Competitive swimming is great for youngsters, too, and many continue the sport through high school and college. While you need access to a pool with a swim program, the sport frequently is year around and does not involve a lot of expensive equipment.

Safety First!

Parents who plan to take their little ones swimming should learn CPR and basic first aid. A youngster can inhale water in just minutes — the time it takes to answer the telephone, for instance. All adults who supervise kids in the water should be vigilant. When it comes to children who are very young or who don't swim, this means "an arm's length" away — no farther!

Backyard pools are fun but they are also dangerous. Build a fence around the pool and install a gate with a secure self-closing latch. This latch should be too high for youngsters to reach.

Clear toys from the pool so that little ones are not tempted to reach for them. String a float line across it to demark the shallow and deep ends. Make sure your kids know what part of the pool they can use.

Never let children use a pool without responsible adult supervision. If you hire a teenager to mind them, make sure he knows how to swim and understands your rules about water safety.

Please Don’t Drink the Water!

Don't let babies and toddlers in the water if they have a cold or other communicable disease. Try to prevent them from swallowing too much water, which can cause water intoxication.

The moment you notice children shivering or their lips look blue, get them out of the water, dry them off, and let them warm up in the sun before they return to the pool. This prevents hypothermia.

Finally, when kids swim outdoors, make sure they wear plenty of sun block. Re-apply after they swim, regardless of the manufacturer's claims. And don't believe that they are protected from the sun when they are submerged in water.

Recognizing the potential danger of water should not diminish the fun of summer swimming. Instead, it should enhance the experience by making it a safe one.