What Age Should My Child Learn How To Swim?
In America, swimming is the most popular recreational activity through childhood and adolescence and the fourth most popular recreational activity for people of all ages. It’s not only a form of exercise, which is great for heart health and combating childhood obesity, but it also improves mental health as well. Just ask the experts! Exercise and fun aside, it can save lives. According to the CDC, drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury and death for children ages 1 to 14. Swimming is one of life’s most essential skills and learning that skill early in life can be paramount.
“Swimming is one of life’s most essential skills and learning that skill early in life can be paramount.”
Studies show that the best time to take basic swim lessons is between ages 1 and 4 years old. However, it’s important to understand that giving your child swim lessons doesn’t guarantee any particular timing for how quickly they will learn. Different children learn at different rates and there are a lot of factors that are at play. Such as physical and developmental abilities (and limitations), emotional maturity, experience, and fear of or traumatic experience in the water.
“Different children learn at different rates and there are a lot of factors that are at play.”
Starting swim lessons early in a Parent/Child class setting introduces foundational concepts and gives children a safe and positive first experience in the water. Look for an experienced instructor who has good rapport with your child to build trust. Take classes that follow guidelines focused not just on swim techniques, but broader water safety competency skills. Children benefit from these early experiences thus enabling them to gain familiarity and comfort in the pool (with the safety of a caregiver). This will allow them to grasp concepts more quickly for when they are developmentally ready to swim independently.
“Take classes that follow guidelines focused not just on swim techniques, but broader water safety competency skills.”
When making your decision, keep these things in mind. Having been a swim instructor for almost 25 years, I can tell you from my experience that seasonal swimmers (taking weekly lessons in the summer starting as soon as six months old) typically learn water safety basics and foundational independent swim skills by three to four years of age. This can look like dog paddling without the assistance of floats, an increase in stamina, and confidence in their skills.