It’s only February, but it’s clear we’re all starting to think about summer! February is when we start to get requests for swim lesson bookings and asked how to prepare for swim lessons.
A child being ready for swim lessons or not can really comedown to how much work you’ve done at home during play time.While the water is still too cold outside to play, let’s start with 4 bath time activities!
1) Pour water over your child.
Use a cup to pour warm fresh water over your child’s head. Let it run down their face and over their mouth. This helps make them more comfortable with water splashing into their face in the pool.
2) Get your child’s ears wet.
Have your child practice putting one ear in the water at a time. When they’re comfortable with one ear at a time, have them lay back and relax with their back and both ears in the water at the same time. When practicing putting ears in the water, you can ask your child to listen to the fish. Ask them what the fish are saying after they listen.
3) Have you child practice putting their mouth in the water.
It’s important that your child understands they need to close their mouth and not inhale water when they get in the pool. Ask them to talk to the fish by blowing bubbles. Then they can listen to the fish by sticking their ear in the water. At first, you might need to spark their imaginations for what the fish (or mermaids) might be saying, but once they start they’re likely to get very creative.
If they’ve mastered blowing bubbles, make it a little more difficult and ask them to blow bubbles just out of their nose. A hand over the mouth during this process can help differentiate mouth versus nose bubbles.
If your child struggles with blowing bubbles or putting their face in the water at all, practice inflating your cheeks when you hold your breath. You can call the inflated cheeks your balloon face because you’re holding your air in like a balloon. Then ask your child to practice dipping their balloon face in the water, start with the chin, then the lips, then the nose gradually. When they’re comfortable, ask the child to pop their balloon underwater and blow bubbles.
4) Open eyes underwater.
Many children (and adults) don’t like opening their eyes underwater, but the reality is – if your child accidentally falls into the pool they need to open their eyes to see which way to navigate.
This is a little trickier than the other skills in the bathtub, but can be practiced by head dunking in the tub.
As it warms up and pool time begins graduate this skill into play time in the pool. Ask them to retrieve an object underwater. Keep in mind that goggles are great for protecting your little ones eyes from the chlorine, but include some playtime without the goggles to make sure your child doesn’t become reliant on them.
Want to make the transition at summer time even easier? Incorporate pool toys into the bath play time as well to prepare for swim lessons. Check out our list of recommended toys here.
Jackie Follmuth is a swim lesson instructor who loves to teach children and adults about water safety. She’s been teaching swim lessons for nearly a decade and while initially started teaching at public pools, she now teaches private lessons in the homes of families on evenings and weekends.
Jackie has a passion for people and public service and completed her Master of Public Administration degree with a focus in Environmental Policy from Texas Tech University in 2017. She earned her B.S. in Public Management & Policy from the University of Arizona with minors in Philosophy (ethics courses), Sociology, and Information, Sciences, Technology & Arts.