The issue of joining your child during lessons should be taken case by case and really depends on the child. Some children are clingy and do attention-seeking behaviors when their parents are around (thus taking away from the lesson), while others are comfortable and even perform for them while in the water. Ultimately, it is up to the parent to determine the best course of action when it comes to whether or not it’s beneficial for them to watch or stay away from lessons.
“It is up to the parent to determine the best course of action”
For toddlers, babies, and very young children (a few months old until about 3 years of age), we encourage a parent or familiar adult, such as a child care provider, to be in the water with the child at least for the first few lessons or until they are comfortable with the instructor. “Stranger danger” is a real thing for young children, especially after a pandemic where children were quarantined and more isolated than usual.
“'Stranger danger' is a real thing for young children, especially after a pandemic where children were quarantined and more isolated than usual."
Once a child is ready for the “Learn to Swim '' lessons (from around 3 years of age and up), then it is important they learn to comfortably separate from their parent or caregiver during lessons. If a child is continuing to be clingy or crying after a few lessons, we encourage the parent to watch from afar or temporarily leave the child alone with the instructor for the lesson. It’s important that your child builds rapport with the instructor and learns to trust them.
“From around 3 years of age and up it is important they learn to comfortably separate from their parent or caregiver during lessons.”
It’s also key to eliminate distractions during the lesson (such as removing any pets or other children away from the pool area if the lessons are at a private pool). If you aren’t able to see the child in action during lessons, then we encourage you to keep communication lines open with the instructor. Building a relationship with your child’s swim instructor will allow you to get advice on skills to reinforce as well as keeping you up to date on their progress. You and your instructor can also work together to create tangible rewards for the child to earn in and out of the swimming pool such as receiving a sticker or a special treat for things like listening well and trying their best in the pool.
“It’s important that your child builds rapport with the instructor and learns to trust them.”
For children who thrive on encouragement and cheering, parents should definitely stay to watch the lesson. This also allows for the parent to monitor progress firsthand and observe what swimming skills their child is learning themselves. Positive rewards and special treats also work well too since they encourage children to continue to give their best and progress to the next level.
If you aren’t sure how your child will react, be present for the first lesson and then discuss the child’s progress with the instructor to determine next steps. You may find that after a few sessions you can duck out and watch from a distance.