Children don’t really have the cognitive skills to learn to swim until they are around 4 years old.Jone Mark
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Every day, about 11 people die from drowning in the United States. Swimming lessons can’t prevent all of those deaths, but they can prevent a lot of them. A child doesn’t need to be able to swim butterfly or do flip turns, but the ability to get back to the surface, float, tread water, and swim to where they can stand or grab onto something can save a life.
10 things parents should know about swimming lessons
That said, swim lessons between 1 and 4 years old can be useful. Not only are some kids simply ready earlier, but younger children can also learn some skills that can be useful if they fall into the water, like getting back to the side of a pool. The teachers should be trained. Again, this sounds obvious — but it’s not always the case.
Flotation devices should be used thoughtfully
Being scared of the water isn’t a reason not to take, or to quit, swimming lessons. It’s common and normal to be afraid of the water, and some children are more afraid than others. While you don’t want to force a child to do something they are terrified of doing, giving up isn’t a good idea either. Start more gradually, with lots of positive reinforcement. The swim teacher should be willing to help.
There is a lot of debate about the use of “bubbles” or other flotation devices to help children learn to swim. They can be very helpful with keeping children safe at the beginning and helping them learn proper positioning and stroke mechanics instead of swimming frantically to stay afloat, but if they are used, the lessons should be designed to gradually decrease any reliance on them.