Swimming Lessons and Free Time


The crazy people in this area of the world think that kids shouldn’t learn to swim before five years old.

My girl is three, and so, I guess I’ll have to teacher her myself.

Not sure why, but there just aren’t any public lessons out here for kids to learn how to swim before they’re five. You may disagree with me on that and claim they do offer parent tot classes, but those are not proper swim lessons. A proper lessons actually teaches the kid to swim to some extent independently.

As a former Water Safety Instructor (which is just a fancy red cross name for swim lesson teacher), I enjoyed working with 3-5 year olds the most. They were much easier to teach than 6-7 years olds and above. A significant number if not all of the kids I taught for two weeks for eight half hour sessions learned how to swim at least a little independently.

Part of the advantage of using someone else to teach your kid is that they have no prior relationship to the kid. They can say and do things that may resonate with the kid so much better than parents, and a swim teacher can know things the parents don’t. Even better, the teacher isn’t as easily manipulated as the parent which kids may have started to figure out.

That’s why I wanted some one else to teach J. She’s just too clever and knows me too well.

My wife and I came up with a plan that maybe you will find helpful. We talked up for several days learning to swim from daddy. We differentiated very clearly between ‘lessons’ and ‘free time’. During lessons she has to listen to daddy and do what he says. During free time she can play the games she wants and go where she wants. During lessons, she’ll play to learn using the games daddy picks!

It’s like a switch. With clear expectations on either side.

It may backfire some day, but it worked great this week.

In fact, she’s already swimming 10 or more feet under water unsupported. She went from her first lesson learning to float on her stomach and back to her second lesson swimming between daddy and the stairs. She made her daddy very very happy in just her first lesson, the second lesson blew my mind!

I really didn’t expect her to get it that fast, in fact she’s probably the best pupil I’ve had ever!

There’s still a lot to learn, but I think if we keep making clear distinctions and encouraging her, she will pick it up in no time. Just for fun I may try to teach her butterfly, if she has the coordination to do it without hurting herself.


About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
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