As a new parent, there are so many developmental milestones to worry about, so many dangers for your child, so many things not in the 45 parenting books you read while pregnant. Not to mention the contradicting information you will find within fifteen seconds of searching the internet. There is no shortage of seasoned parents to tell you their success or horror stories regarding swimming. Along with the veterans among us who will tell you to just “throw them in and see what happens.” (not recommended) The truth is, there are varying opinions on what age is appropriate for swim lessons and to some degree they are all correct (except throw them in and see what happens).
“Parent and Me” classes are often available at age 6 months and usually, end at age 2. This popular model is the one we adhere to at Swim Tutors USA. Whether you start at 6 months or 12 months or even later, should be determined by your parental instincts. Is your child comfortable with water? Has your pediatrician given you the green light? Is your child comfortable with new people? An instructor is likely to interact with your child to some degree, so if you’ve yet to introduce your baby to people outside the family you may want to do so before starting swim lessons.
What should I expect at “Parent and Me” classes? You will be a participant and you will have to get in the water! Most programs will spend time teaching you how to hold your baby, water safety for your baby, and activities you can do with your baby in the water. At age two, many programs will move the child into either group or private classes without the parent.
Once your child is two they are capable of being in classes with just an instructor for most programs. Some may still require a parent. At Swim Tutors USA we work with them on an individualized instruction plan during one-on-one lessons. Children are capable of swimming to the wall, correct kicking technique, bubbles, and learning to breathe. However, consistent proper technique is not achievable until age 4 due to fine and gross motor development.
Ultimately, most children can begin one-on-one instruction at age 2. Some children with delays or developmental issues may require parents to be in the pool, or additional time to learn. All children can participate in swim lessons and with the proper instruction can learn. Parents should consult their pediatrician prior to starting lessons and speak with instructors about any additional needs their children have so lessons can be as wholly beneficial to each student as possible. Keep in mind each student is unique and has their own needs, so tailoring instruction to those needs is critical!