Learn to Swim

A guide to the Learn to Swim Programme

Helping your child develop water confidence

Parents can play an active role in increasing water confidence in babies and young children from an early age.

It is not essential to take your child to a swimming pool as bath time activities are a good introduction to the water.

Bath-time can help to introduce your child to a number of aquatic experiences in a warm and comfortable environment.

Children should be encouraged and helped to wet their faces, tummies, splash, blow bubbles, sing and play in the bath to get them used to the water.

Family swimming sessions are another excellent way of building water confidence in pre-school aged children. Contact your local pool for family swimming sessions.

Four activities to help build your child’s water confidence

Underwater humming

If you or your children sing into hairbrushes or wave around air guitars then why not try a little underwater humming.

  1. Divide into pairs or small groups and stand close to each other
  2. Now all duck under the water.
  3. While submerged, one person from the group or pair starts humming a favourite tune and the others have to guess the tune.

How many turns will it take them to name that tune? If they haven’t guessed it after three turns, tell them what it is and then swap. Ensure you have a good collection of humming tunes ready before you start playing.

Fishy in the middle

This game is a watery version of piggy in the middle and will get everyone jumping around.

Take with you a medium-sized soft/inflatable ball for each group of three players. Always check with the pool staff that you are ok to use these. Some pools run family splash session where they will supply balls.

  1. Get into threes, with one person standing in the middle.
  2. The fishy in the middle has to try and catch the ball as the others throw it over his or her head.

How high can your child jump out of the water? When the fishy catches the ball the person who threw it takes a turn in the middle.

Starfish tag

Starfish Tag is derived from another classic playground game. It is loads of fun in the pool and good at helping build water confidence.

  1. One of you is the ‘tagger’ and has to try and tag all the others in the water.
  2. Once someone is tagged that person has to stand still until they are set free.
  3. Tagged swimmers can only be set free if someone else taps them on the shoulder or swims under their arms or legs.

Try setting a time limit to the game and see who can win the most tags.

Swimming through legs

This is a fun game and good for developing swimming and water confidence under the water.

  1. Start by standing in a star shape with someone else facing you.
  2. The person opposite then has to try and swim through your legs under the water.
  3. Make sure you open them wide enough. Once they do it you swap over.

If you find this a bit easy, try getting two people standing with their legs open and try to swim through both in one go.