When my son was around six months old, I started thinking about activities that we could get him involved in. I thought about swim lessons because my son loved water and I imagined learning how to swim early would be a good experience for him. I was also intrigued after watching YouTube videos with babies swimming around the pool like pros.
I signed us up for a parent and me swim class when my son was seven months old. The class was fun and we did it for a couple months. I just knew in a couple months my son months would be able to swim, but it didn’t happen. I had ridiculous expectations, especially for someone who didn’t have regular access to a pool. However, the experience was great because he learned how to be comfortable in the water and he learned how to hold his breath. He also learned how to paddle to the top of the water after going under. So the experience wasn’t a fail, it was just the beginning.
I stopped lessons after two months, because he started getting irritable and didn’t want to swim. I figured we could take a break from it and try again later. Basically every Spring we had him in lessons. When my son turned three we tried private lessons. He progressed pretty well in private lessons, as he learned how to jump in the water and pull himself along the side of the pool by himself. After four months of lessons, he reached his peak and wasn’t improving. He also started to complain about the lessons. I decided to take another break.
My son is now over four and we started him group swim lessons. This time after just two lessons, he is swimming on his own and swimming underwater to retrieve toys. It was pretty amazing how fast my son progressed this time.
I think the lesson for me is that kids progress when they are ready. Some kids learn how to swim quickly and for others it takes time. Also, access probably makes a big difference. When I initially started swim lessons, I didn’t have a swimming pool. Thus, the only time my son was swimming was at swim lessons and if we took him swimming at a friend’s or community pool. Now I live in a place that has a pool, we can swim more, which provides more opportunities for him to practice what he learns in swim lessons.
Overall, I think it is good to start early if you can because that eliminates the fear of water. I have a few friends that started swimming lessons with their kids after four and it was a struggle because their kids were afraid of the water. So even though your child might not make quick progress eventually they will learn how to swim and if they start early. They are also likely to learn how to swim faster when they are ready.
Last year I spent a lot of money on private swim lessons, which I was beginning to think were a waste until now. I think the experience of his previous lessons coupled with the him being just plain ready to do it now, is the reason why he’s making a lot of progress this go round. So my advice to you is “don’t give up,” even if you feel the lessons are a dead end and your kid is not making progress. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I also advise to stick to group swim lessons (if your child enjoys them) to save money; they are a lot more economical than private lessons. When your child starts making more progress in the water at that point moving to private lessons might be beneficial. If your child is having problems focusing in the group lesson, then trying private lessons sooner might be a worth a try.
Since I live near the beach and in an area with a lot of pools, I think it’s important that my son be an excellent swimmer. As he grows there will be times where I’m not around to make sure he’s safe, so learning how to swim is very important, his life may depend on it.
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