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When should your child start swimming lessons?

Learning to swim can be great fun for your child and it is an important life skill that may even save their life one day. Gaining confidence in the water is a key factor in learning to swim and introducing your child to water at a young age can help with their confidence.

When to start swimming?

There is no minimum age to take your child swimming yourself but it is advisable to wait until they are at least six weeks old. The emphasis should be on fun and just letting your child enjoy the sensation of being in the water. It is best to limit yourself to ten minutes in the water at first.

Lessons for very young children

Many leisure centres and swimming pools offer mother and baby classes and these usually have a minimum age of six months although you can begin introducing your baby to water much earlier, beginning by making bath times fun at home. Your child will take part in activities and songs designed to help them to develop confidence in the water and to get used to making swimming movements. This will include getting their face wet and blowing bubbles under water. The next stage of lessons for toddlers may begin at around age three with the emphasis still on having fun and toys such as watering cans may be used. Your child will start to get accustomed to the routine of being in a swimming class with the requirement to listen to the instructor and to pay attention to instructions.  

Formal swimming lessons

Once your child is around five years old, they will be able to take part in a structured lesson. This will involve learning the basic movements involved in the different swimming strokes. Your child will also be taught water safety including how to climb in and out of the pool. The instructor will use swimming aids to help your child to stay afloat while they practise and work towards the initial goal of being able to swim five metres unaided.  

Points to Consider

There are several questions that it is worth asking before your child starts swimming lessons.  
  • How many children will normally be in your child's class and is there is a maximum number that will be allowed?
  • Will either an instructor or an assistant actually be in the pool with the children or does all instruction take place from the side?
  • Do the lessons follow a recognised series of levels such as the British Gas ASA Learn To Swim Pathway?
  • Are there any rewards such as certificates when your child passes a level and progresses onto the next one?
  Probably the most important point to remember above all else is that your child should enjoy their swimming lessons. They will be able to take pride in their achievements as they progress which will help to boost their self esteem while learning a valuable skill which will help to keep them fit and healthy and also help keep them safe in and around water throughout their lives.