When my child was three, we missed a swim lesson. When we arrived for the makeup session, she seemed confused and disappointed. When I asked why she seemed upset, she said, “You said there would be makeup at this lesson. There’s no lip gloss or glitter eyes anywhere!” I learned that day how important it is to set expectations for activities.
Kids aren’t always familiar with experiences we can describe in a few words. “You have your first swim lesson tomorrow,” is fairly straightforward to adults. Adults know that kids will likely go off with an instructor while mom or dad watches from the bleachers.
One of the best ways to introduce your child to swimming is by reading books about familiar characters learning to swim. Stories about swim lessons help parents discuss topics like whether the pool is inside, how to wear swim goggles, and where parents sit.
For a child, the first experience of weightlessness, holding their breath, and the cold water can be a lot to overcome. Read a selection of children's books that have their favorite characters conquering water.
In this story, Peppa Pig goes to the pool with her parents and younger brother, George. Their mother and father provide plenty of encouragement for getting in the pool. Later Peppa Pig swims with her friend and discovers how much fun it is to play with a friend at the pool.
During the story, children learn about visiting a swimming pool and wearing armbands. Blow-up armbands are toys and should not be used without constant, close supervision. The book gives parents a chance to talk about water safety and the difference between toys and approved flotation devices.
Froggy is relatable to children who struggle to overcome their fear. With encouragement, practice, and a few good tunes, Froggy becomes a great swimmer.
Sometimes learning to swim causes anxiety. This story about how Froggy overcomes his fear of the water and masters swimming is a fun way to ease nervous children into swimming lessons.
Nate loves to read, learn, and talk about sharks. Sometimes he pretends he’s a shark, too! His big brother challenges him by pointing out that Nate can’t swim.
Nate starts swim lessons and learns to blow bubbles, use a kickboard, and swim just like a shark. He gets a chance to race against his brother at the end of the story. Non-fiction fans will enjoy the list of shark facts in the back.
Like a lot of children, Maisy doesn’t know what to expect from her first swimming lesson, so she’s a bit nervous.
The book walks through the experience of a swim lesson, including changing into a suit and meeting the teacher. The swim instructor teaches Maisy to blow bubbles, float, and kick. Maisy’s friends Eddie and Tallulah come along and they all enjoy swimming lessons in the story.
After finishing swim lessons and passing a swim test, Jabari is ready to jump off the diving board. It looks easy enough while watching the other kids. But when it comes to his turn, he realizes it’s harder than he thought.
His father is patient and encouraging while helping Jabari gain the confidence necessary to jump. This sweet story helps kids overcome fear and celebrate success.
Books are a good way to introduce children to the concept of swimming lessons and help them understand what to expect. Choose a variety of books to address any emotions your child might have before learning to swim. The pictures and vocabulary used will help introduce important topics so you can share your own stories about swimming.
Some children love learning to swim, but others you have to help along. Swimming instruction is critical, but your child will progress faster if they already know a few basic skills. Engage your child in simple at-home activities to develop the emotional and physical skills they’ll need to make swim lessons more productive. Consult your pediatrician for additional emotional or physical milestones that indicate pool readiness.
Recommended for kids 3-6 yrs old - Head circumference 15 - 18 inches
Recommended for kids 3-10 yrs old - Head circumference 16 - 22 inches
Recommended for 10+ year olds - Head circumference 16-22 inches
Measure the circumference of your child's head using a soft tape measure. The tape should cross the forehead and be less than 1 inch above the height of the ears.
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