Monday, April 18, 2011

Swimming Lessons... In the tub!

Not too many people know this about me, but the reason I became a teacher was from teaching swim lessons every summer as a teenager. I loved working with children and teaching them a skill they would use all of their life. (Kind of like reading!)
I got hooked and knew there was no going back.
I have taught lessons every summer since I was 17! ( However, I did take the summer of 2007 off to get married!) I even taught lessons 8 months pregnant with TWINS! My poor students would get kicked by a baby and think I was really mean!

So, here are some really easy things you can be doing with your child in the tub to get ready for that first swim lesson!  Some of these are great to start when you move to the big tub, and some of these skills are for 12-24 months.

  • Pour the water on their head!  Don't be easy on them and have them lean back. You are not doing them any favors! This is very similar to the feeling of going under water and coming back up for air! (I hate to call it dunking, but that is pretty much the action.)  
    • Tips while doing this:
      • Tell your child what you are about to do! "Okay, now we are going to get your hair wet.
      • Count the number of times you rinse. "One, two, three. Okay done!"
    He still lets us do this! But now we warn him it is coming!
  • Let your child lay down on their back during the bath! Ears under water and everything! This takes some practice. Gently lay them down, and hold the back of their head, making sure the water in the tub is not too high.  Eventually after daily practice, they will start to do this on their own when asked.
    • This will help with floating on their back.  The more comfortable they are in the tub, the easier the transition to the pool will be.  (Floating is THE most important skill children under 2 years old can learn. It will save their life.)
  • Encourage your child to put their face in the water!  This will take some work on your part. Children learn by watching. I would lean all the way over the tub and stick my own face in the water to show them.  I use the term, "Kiss the water". Then whenever one child would do it, we would cheer and make a big 'to do' about the whole thing. Then they kept on doing it over and over and eventually for longer periods of time. They even cheer for themselves now!

  • Blowing Bubbles is the next step!  Once again, you need to get your own face in the tub and show your child what you want them to do. Tell them to blow bubbles, practice out of the water, then in the water. Make it a game!

  • And the last step we are working on in the tub: ARMS!  I have lots of terms to use depending on what works for your child.  (Think underwater arms, or breast stroke arms)
    • "Push the cookies away." If they like Cookie Monster, tell them that the cookies are all getting wet and you need to get them out of the tub! So, reach for the plate of cookies then push them away.
    • "Make a rocket ship, then blast off!"
    • "Push the water." "Make a wave"
      • Practice this one outside of the tub. Lay on the carpet, on your tummies, and everyone practice. Then when in the tub, remind them about their arms! So far, only Luke can do this, and I don't have any pictures or video yet!
(Please don't forget to watch your child the entire time they are in the bath.)

This post is getting kinda long, I will come back another time and tell you some of my favorite products for the pool this summer!


  1. These are such great ideas and the "aww" factor was huge for me - Luke and Hudson make great movies!

  2. Thanks for the great tips. The first time I took my baby to the pool, she clung to me for dear life. After several more visits, she slowly eased up. Eventually, I was able to let her float by herself (with arm floats of course).



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