How to teach a child to swim under 3 years old

Water procedures with a baby are undoubtedly useful, and you can teach them from a very early age. However, they do not involve independent movement, which means they have nothing to do with swimming.

In addition, such exercises reinforce incorrect movements and body position. As a result, when later the child will master full-fledged swimming, he will have to be retrained for a long time. To lay the foundation for a young swimmer, you need to introduce him to the water element gradually and exclusively in a playful way.

The main task of parents at this stage is to help the child overcome the fear of big water. Ideally, you can try to teach him to immerse his face in water. Then the skills will come in handy for proper breathing. To do this, do the following:

  • Engage with your child and toys in a shallow pool with warm clear water.
  • Spray on each other. Do not be afraid to get water on your face and reassure the child so that he is not afraid of this.
  • Blow bubbles together as you dip your face into the water. First with the mouth and then with the nose.
  • Ask the child to squat, plunging into the water, and immediately emerge.

How to teach a child to swim from 3 to 5 years old

Children at this age can already be taught to swim freely without any style, if you show restraint. Preschoolers are not able to concentrate for a long time and follow instructions, do things that are unusual for them, so learning should take place in a playful manner.

1. Choose the right place

It is best to teach your child to swim in a pool or large tub like a hot tub. The sea is much less suitable due to salty water and waves that interfere. A river or lake is also not ideal: the water in them is opaque and cold, so it will be difficult for a young athlete psychologically.

Depth – to the waist or a little higher, so that the swimmer feels safe. The water temperature is preferably higher – 25–28 ° С. At the same time, until the child gets used to swimming goggles, moisture should not cause burning of the eyes if you open them at a depth.

2. Remove armlets and vest

Discard any equipment designed to keep you afloat. Circles, boards and other devices disrupt the balance of the body and prevent the baby from learning to float on their own.

When using a vest or sleeves, the child is pressed into the supports and raises his head high, straining his neck. You can really learn to swim only by diving under water, so it is important to immediately remove all watercraft.

3. Get your child used to glasses

Like all subsequent steps, this one must be performed exclusively in a playful way, and even better, showing by personal example. Most likely, there will be no problems with five-year-olds, but younger children can be capricious.

Try on the glasses for your child and note how they suit him. Constantly praise and admire him, even if you managed only to put the protection to his face and not put the elastic on the back of his head. Click on the glasses and show what a funny grunting sound they make, and offer to try it yourself. If the glasses are not fixed on the face, say “The eye is peeled off.”

If the baby is afraid and does not want to wear an accessory, be friendly, do not push and be patient. Switch to fussing with toys and try again a little later. Little by little, after 5-10 fittings, he will give in, especially when he realizes how well he can see underwater with glasses.

4. Get used to the water

Before training, the child needs to be liberated and stop being afraid of water. To do this, fool around a bit with him.

  • Splash in shallow water, splashing hands and feet.
  • Hold hands and, lowering your face into the water, blow bubbles with your mouth and nose.
  • Show each other tongues and make faces underwater.

5. Practice putting your face in the water

Swimming training is based on immersion of the face in water. It’s not natural for a child, so you can’t just tell him, “Do it like this.” And this is where games come in.

  • First, spray so that moisture gets on the trainee’s face. You can water it little by little, showing that it is not scary and fun.
  • Squat and jump at different depths so that when diving, the water reaches the child’s lips, then to the eyes, and so gradually ask him to plunge for a second with his head. There is no need to close your eyes.
  • Scatter toys at a shallow depth so that they cannot be reached by hand without plunging headlong, and ask for a rescue or treasure hunt.
  • When the child takes a sip of water and coughs, react calmly and cheerfully, making it clear that nothing bad has happened. Ask to exhale sharply through the nose, as if blowing your nose, and the remaining water will easily leave the nasopharynx, and with them the discomfort.

6. Learn to exhale into the water

The next stage is the development of exhalation into the water. It is used in all strokes and is key to proper swimming technique. In part, the child is already familiar with this technique, blowing bubbles is exhalation.

  • Continue to reinforce the skill by blowing bubbles at the edge of the pool. The preschooler must certainly do this with his nose, since the mouth is inhaled.
  • The jumps and squats from the previous step will also help. Add to them exhalations into the water at the moment of immersion.
  • For proper exhalation, ask the child to take in air, close his mouth with his hand and make a lingering sound “mmm” with his nose.

7. Practice staying afloat

To do this, there are simple exercises – “jellyfish” and “asterisk”, which are very popular with children. Their essence lies in hanging in the water while holding the breath and relaxing the neck.

How to do the jellyfish exercise

  • Ask the baby to lie down on the water and lightly support him under the chest. The whole body and, most importantly, the neck are in a relaxed state, reminiscent of a jellyfish. You need to look at the bottom, not in front of you.
  • To get your child to act like this, come up with a treasure hunt game or something like that.

How to do the star exercise

  • Put the young swimmer on the water and support under the chest with your hands. Ask him to spread his arms and legs, depicting a star.
  • As in the previous exercise, you need to lower your face into the water and relax your neck. Use to motivate the game.
  • Another option that can be performed for a change is the “asterisk” on the back.

8. Try gliding in the water

Now it’s time to start moving. For this, there is a special “arrow” exercise, which is the basic pose in many swimming styles.

  • Support the child under the chest and ask him to raise his arms above his head, and then gently lie down on the water, straightening his body and relaxing his neck.
  • Once you have mastered this technique, have the swimmer try to do all of the above on their own. Step back a couple of meters from the edge of the pool and tell them to push off with their feet from the side and move towards you.

9. Practice your leg movements

There are two options here: crawl movements, when the legs alternately move up and down, or breaststroke style – the legs are bent at the knees and the swimmer is repelled from the water in the manner of a frog.

For children at this age, both options are correct. And it’s easy to understand which one is more suitable for a child if you ask him to swim a short distance and check which movements he will make intuitively – swings or pushes.

The essence of the exercise is to make an “arrow” and, when sliding, include the legs in the work. Both options, if possible, are best performed in the correct technique. See how it’s done and demonstrate to your child on land or in shallow water.

  • Crawl: the legs almost do not bend at the knees, but move from the hip, the feet are maximally extended back. The movements are more like working scissors than riding a bicycle.

  • Breaststroke: the legs are bent at the knees and slightly pulled towards themselves, the feet are pressed forward. Then they are bred to the sides and there is a sharp push.

10. Connect hands

For a small child, the easiest way to move is the breaststroke, when the strokes are made with both hands at the same time.

However, it is not necessary to demand from the swimmer their impeccable performance. If it is too difficult for him, dog-like movements are allowed, when the strokes are made alternately and the hands, as it were, cling to the water.

The principle is the same. The movement starts from the “arrow” position, then the arms and legs are included in the work.

11. Teach your child to breathe

All previous exercises are performed while holding the breath, but you won’t swim that far. Therefore, when the child has mastered the basic movements, you need to teach him to raise his head and inhale and not stop at the same time.

This should be done only through the mouth, because when breathing through the nose, drops of water can enter the nasopharynx and cause discomfort. Improve your breathing skills with fish games.

  • “Thoughtful fish” – at a depth where the child does not reach the bottom, ask to push off from the side and slowly swim towards you, lowering your face into the water.

  • “Curious fish” – have the child complete the previous exercise, and then, at your command, simply raise his head without inhaling. At this point, he must help himself by pushing off the water with his feet.

  • “Amazing fish” – this time the baby needs to do the same, only when raising his head, quickly inhale the air with his mouth. You can first practice a sharp breath when emerging in a shallower part of the pool, where the water is up to the chest.

How to teach a child to swim 5-6 years and older

Older children perceive the learning process more effectively. They consciously complete tasks and practice exercises, so at this age you can teach a child to swim like an adult.

This is done according to the standard algorithm, which is described in detail in our article, or using express methods. For example, the system of trainer Denis Tarakanov allows you to learn how to swim in one or two lessons. Just ask your child to do the following exercises in order. Each about 10 times.

1. On the steps by the pool or in the children’s pond, where the depth reaches 30-40 cm, ask the child to rest his hands on the bottom and stretch to his full height. The whole body is submerged, only the head is above the water, the neck is relaxed. The swimmer should hold his breath and lie like this for 5-10 seconds, and then gently raise his face, inhale through his mouth and repeat the exercise.

How to teach a child to swim: you need to work out holding your breath
Frame: Denis Tarakanov / YouTube

2. Let the child do the same, but lower his face into the water and raise one of his hands, relying only on the second.

The child will put his face in the water and raise one of his hands
Frame: Denis Tarakanov / YouTube

3. Again repeat the learned move, but now explain to the swimmer that he must remove both hands and hang like this in the water, counting to five to himself.

How to teach a child to swim: you need to remove both hands and hang in the water
Frame: Denis Tarakanov / YouTube

4. Ask the child to stretch his arms in front of him at the moment of hovering and stay in this position for 5-10 seconds while holding his breath. After that, let him rest his hands on the bottom, raise his head to inhale through his mouth and repeat the exercise.

The child should stretch his arms in front of him at the moment of hovering
Frame: Denis Tarakanov / YouTube

5. Let the baby move away from the edge of the pool by 50–70 cm and, turning around to face him, perform a new variation of the exercise. After inhaling, you need to gently push off from the bottom and slide with your arms outstretched forward, without lifting your face from the water.

How to teach a child to swim: you need to gently push off and glide with outstretched arms
Frame: Denis Tarakanov / YouTube

6. Connect the legs: after the push, the child should gently dangle the legs without pulling the feet out of the water.

The child should gently shake his legs
Frame: Denis Tarakanov / YouTube

7. Now the hands are included in the work: let the young athlete row them like a dog or breaststroke. The main thing is to move them under water at the level of the face, but not under the stomach.

How to teach a child to swim: you need to row with your hands
Frame: Denis Tarakanov / YouTube

8. Ask the child to repeat the previous exercise, but while moving, gently raise his head above the water for a couple of seconds. It is not necessary to inhale, just fix the action to understand that it is not difficult.

When moving, the child gently raises his head above the water
Frame: Denis Tarakanov / YouTube

9. Finally, let the child push off and swim, moving his legs and arms, and then try to raise his head above the water and breathe in through his mouth.

Details on how to properly perform each exercise can be found in the video: