Summer is right around the corner…
and so are long, lovely days at the beach, pool, and lake! My personal most favorite way to spend summer days is hanging out by the pool with my family. Teaching your kiddo to swim is not only a fun activity BUT also an extremely important safety measure. If you know your family is going to be around bodies of water this summer, you need to start teaching basic water techniques because, (as scary as this sounds), you never really know what is going to happen the few moments you are distracted by your phone or changing a diaper. I taught pre-competitive swimming for three years to kids ages 2-8 and wanted to share the basic steps to teaching your kiddo to stay afloat:
1. Blowing bubbles
The very first step of swimming technique your child needs to learn is how to blow bubbles out of their nose. This is important because often children panic when their face first goes under water and breathe in instinctively. Teaching the bubble technique keeps water out of their nose and reduces the risk of drowning. The best method of teaching this is by sitting on the pool steps with him or her and putting your face under water, blowing as hard as you can, to show that bubbles come to the surface. Kids are usually wildly entertained by this and it can easily be made into a game! I use a red light / green light game with my swim groups!
2. Floating on back
Kids float very well on their own! Most of them just have no idea that they do! As I said in the previous step, most problems in swimming come when a child’s initial reaction is to panic. When a child thrashes around the water instead of staying calm, they tend to be submerged underwater more so than if they relaxed entirely. In order to teach your child to float on their back, begin by having them face the sky and guide them with your hand on their back. Float them around the water while making conversation, talk about what the clouds look like, if there are birds, etc.. Teach them to relax their back and keep their bottom up rather than sinking down in the water. Slowly transition them from being guided by you to being closely supervised by walking next to them as they float on their own. NOTE: While they float, teach them that they should still breathe out of their nose just like when blowing bubbles, to keep splashes from getting in.
3. Frog kicks
The last step to stay afloat in the water is teaching frog kicks. Frog kicks are circular kicks, this is usually the natural way children are inclined to move their legs. A frog kick starts with both legs straight, then bending towards your back, and finally moving outwards into a circle. This sounds much more complicated than it is so here is a visual demonstrating exactly what this kick looks like:
Teaching your child this kick is important because it can be used not only on their back to stay afloat, but also to tread water and keep their head safely above water.
These three steps are the bare minimum you need to teach your little one to stay afloat rather than panic when faced with water. Educating your kiddo in water safety and the basics of swimming lowers their risk of drowning immensely! As always, monitor your kids around any body of water, but these techniques can be an actual lifesaver for your family.
When your child needs to stay afloat they have to learn to: blow bubbles to keep water out of their nose, relax and turn onto their back and float, and begin to frog kick to let their head stay above the water.