Monday 28 March 2016

Trying to teach the children to swim

Both my children are quite different, which took me by surprise a little bit when Mia came along as I've had to change my parenting to cater to both their needs. Another difference between them has been to do with them learning to swim.

I took Harry swimming as a tiny baby, I remember splashing him about in the water and even dunking him underneath and he was perfectly happy with it. Then Mia appeared, the gym fees increased, and the swimming tailed off. They were both quite confident splashing about with arm bands on, but no more than that.

Then Harry did a whole year of swimming lessons with his school last year, and then an intensive swimming course over the summer. Unfortunately, despite all these lessons he's not really progressed. He's happy enough kicking about with a float, but his big issue is that he will not put his face in the water and it's holding him back. He will lean back and put his ears under, which was a huge step, but he won't even contemplate putting his face forwards.

Collection of swimming bits for children

We started them both with swimming lessons at our gym back in September, both in the beginner class. Mia got off to a rocky start, she was splashed in the face a few minutes into her first lesson and screamed for the next half hour, and did the same at her next two lessons, before she settled down. Harry happily pootles about, but without really getting anywhere.

But a couple of weeks ago Mia had a massive breakthrough. Something clicked, and she put her entire head underwater. Since then, we can't keep her out of the water! What's really funny is that she can swim beautifully underwater for as long as she can hold her breath, but with her little face above the water she can't swim at all yet!

Harry watches with interest (and puts up with her patronising him - 'don't worry Harry, you'll put your face in the water soon') but it doesn't seem to have spurred him on to try himself. I'm starting to worry that Mia is going to end up in the more advanced class, and I'm not sure how Harry will feel about that. It might give him a push to try and keep up with her, it might upset him, or he might just accept it and carry on as he is.

I really hope that Harry clicks with the swimming soon. Obviously it's important to be confident in the water from a safety perspective, but it's also great exercise and makes trips to a water park or swimming pool with slides and chutes much more fun.

I'd love any tips for dealing with a child that is reluctant at learning to swim!


  1. It is frustrating, isn't it? My youngest loved his swimming lessons, but insisted in wading everywhere. Instructor suggested one-to-one and it worked. By the end of a week of lessons, he was swimming without arm bands. He went on to 2 years of 2-to-1 and now swims like a fish. They do vary. Some children are swimming at 3 while others won't take it serious until 6. Hang on in there.

    1. That's brilliant! Perhaps my son could do with some individual lessons. Although I took them this afternoon and he had a bit of a breakthrough - no luck with the head in the water but he suddenly started swimming doggy paddle for quite a distance! So I'm hoping that it has boosted his confidence a little bit, he was very proud of himself.


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