There is actually a procedure to teaching anyone to swim, even small children. Actually, it could be said that especially small children can be taught to swim very well.Children have a natural urge to be able to be in the water and do well. They just need to be taught the proper techniques so that they can be in the water and be safe at all times. Children are eager to learn and do well, so it’s a natural progress of skills that can be taught.
Step 1 : Get Wet
The first thing to do is to teach the child to get their face wet, and open their eyes under water. In this way, they experience that it won’t hurt them to do that. Then they need to learn how to hold their breath while their face, mouth, and nose are under water. This seems very basic, but you have to teach it anyway, because if they mess up and try to breathe while underwater, it will undo a lot of teaching, and bring on fear of the water.
The best way for them to learn this is to teach them to blow some bubbles while their face is in the water, so they won’t be breathing in.
Step 2 : Float
The next step is to teach them to float on their stomach. Have them hold on to the side of the pool and push off with their feet towards you, as you stand about one and a half body lengths away. Demonstrate for them and encourage them to keep their face in the water as you catch them almost at the moment they push off. Then tell them that you are going to be out a little further, but you will always catch them.
It won’t take but a few times until they will gain confidence that they can “make it” out to you and that you will always catch them. You can move farther out and tell them you will always catch them. Then show them how they can bring their knees to their chest if they want to stop, which will bring their heads up out of the water. They can practice that near the poolside as you hold them and they get the idea. Then practice it, and in a few pushes, they will all be doing it.This is the advantage of having more than one child in a swimming class, because when one does the exercise, they all do it. You just tell them, show them, hold them through the motion, and then have them do it.
Step 3 : Flutter Kick
The next step is to have them learn the flutter kick. Have them hold onto the side of the pool and stretch out, then begin kicking their legs. They must be shown how to keep the legs straight and use shallow kicks. Spend some time with them on this because they will want to bend their knees, so have them practice with the legs straight, with only a slight bend in the knees.
Next have the children push off from the side like they did before and begin their kick right after they push off. They can take turns so you can coach them individually. It won’t take long for them to learn this, be sure that their faces are in the water while kicking and you catch them a little farther out than before.
This process so far is about two to three days of half-hour lessons, and you have taught them already about half of what they need to know in order to learn how to swim.
Step 4 : Move The Arms
Next, you are going to teach the children how to move the arms while swimming. You will accomplish this on dry land to start, by having the children stand in front of you as you demonstrate the alternate reaching out with the right hand and then the left hand. Explain that they will reach out ahead of their body, one arm at a time and ‘grab’ the water and pull it down to a position right under their tummy. Then, they will bend the elbow and bring the elbow straight up vertically, until they are in the position to reach out again.
Demonstrate this, and then have the children bend from the waist and have them practice the movement until each one of them are able to perform this with some sense of rhythm. Some of the children will flail their arms like a windmill and you will have to teach them the rhythm of the process by having them do it all together as you count.
Now it is time to try all of this in the pool, one at a time. Don’t expect much at first because we have an entirely new set of skills that will need to be practiced a lot in order to perfect it. Your goal will be to have them experience a sense of pulling themselves through the water with their arms while they kick. Be right there to pick them up the moment they falter, and praise their efforts.
The more they practice this, the better they will get at moving through the water. This part of the lesson may take two to three days until they get more confident and they find that they can actually swim quite a distance.
Step 5 : Breathing
The final skill is to teach them how to breathe when they need air by turning their head slightly to the side and gulping some air. You are always emphasizing that their face is full in the water, because if they lift their head straight up, their feet sink, messing up the whole process.
Now you are in the practice, practice, practice phase and you are looking for the beginnings of bad habits. These will crop up without the child realizing it and you have to be there to correct and encourage.
Most children (and adults) can learn to swim this way in about 3 days to a week, and from that point on it amounts to more practice and the development of endurance to move on from there.