BABIES UNDER 6 MONTHS: The swimming reflex makes babies look like they are swimming because they naturally move their arms and legs underwater. It feels like they are "swimming" as you give them a little push. As they grow, they start to use their arms and legs with a purpose and begin to move. Continue to take your baby to a pool and practice in the tub, so that he won't forget!!!
FOR CHILDREN 6 MONTHS TO 4 YEARS OLD:
Watch the video for this lesson: Zane at 6 months and at 13 months.
1. Swim to the toy. Start about 5 feet from the steps. Have the child put his face under water. As he starts kicking and digging, place your hands lightly behind the head as you guide him to the toy. Stay close to him and teach him to stand up on the step when he gets there.
2. From the steps to you. The child is standing on the step. Have the child push off toward you, or pull him toward you by the hand. Put your hand behind his head to get him in position, releasing him a little as you take ONE step backward. Have him get the toy from your hand.
3. The bumper fish: Hold the child's hands as you give your signal. The child pushes off and you step back telling him to kick hard. You step back and let him bump your belly without releasing the hands: the two-handed bumper fish. Do the same holding one hand: the one-handed bumper fish. As he gets excited with bumping your belly, you sneak in the no handed bumper fish by giving him a little pull and releasing him while you take one step back. Suddenly the child will be pushing off to bump you real hard!
Let the child be proud that he is swimming!
4. The Rocket: The child puts his feet on your thighs. You hold the child on the shins or hips. After the child puts the face in the water let the child push off as you lift the legs to the swim position. Don't let him turn around to you, help the child to get to the wall or the steps.
5. Child swims to you: Stand about 6 feet away from the child. The child pushes off the step under the water. You move your arms. He will see your arms and move his. Go under the water so your child will see you. Never move back while he is swimming to you or he will loose trust in you!
6. Increase the distance: Work with your young child to push off the steps alone swimming a longer distance to you and back to the steps.
Jumping off the diving board and swimming to the ladder at 2 years old.
7. The deep end: Explain to the child that he can swim the same in the deep end and the shallow end. You hold a flotation device while the child swims to you. If the child is afraid of the deep end, have the child look around under the water while holding on to the ladder. Then, have the child float on his belly while holding on the ladder. Have the child let go of the ladder and feel how the water holds him up floating on his belly, face down. Have the child swim to you a short distance while you hold a flotation device.
Encourage and praise the child for a job well done!
Only confidence, ability and respect for the water will make the child water safe.