Is My Child Ready for Swimming Lessons?

How do you know when your child is old enough to start swimming lessons? Here, what to look for, what to expect, & how to find swim lessons near you.

By Sarah Antrim

child learning to swim
The pools are about to open their doors again for the season, and big kids are getting excited to get back in the water.

For parents, it’s a good time to revisit pool safety tips. And if you’ve got little one, it might be time to consider swimming lessons. Swimming lessons can help improve kids’ safety near water.

But, how do you know if your child is ready? Here, some tips to consider:

When should my child start swim lessons?

Chances are that if you’re wondering if your child is old enough for swim lessons, the answer is yes. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently lowered its recommended age for starting swim lessons from 4 years to just 1 year of age. It has been shown that toddler who have had more exposure to water and even basic instructions are less likely to drown.

So even though most kids can’t necessarily swim at that age, it’s never too early to get them accustomed to the water.

How do I know if my child is ready?

Does your child express interest in the water?

Do they take to basic instruction well?

Do you plan on spending time at the pool this summer with them?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these, your child is likely ready for swim lessons. Even though the beginning swim classes are little more than blowing bubbles and back floats, any amount of exposure to the water helps children grow more comfortable in the pool.

What sort of time investment is involved in swim lessons?

Beginner swim lessons can start as early as 6 months and require a parent present. Most lessons typically last from 30 to 60 minutes on average so as to avoid the child losing interest.

Once children become a bit more self sufficient, usually between 3 and 5 years, they can take lessons without a parent present. These lessons are usually the same time frame, about 30 to 60 minutes, to withstand a dwindling attention span (and avoid finger prunes, of course).

What if my child is uncomfortable with new people or doesn’t take instruction well?

Many beginning swim classes require a parent present. If your child has grown out of the age range for this, talk to the instructor and see if they’ll allow you to stay with your child during the lesson. Hopefully your child will become more comfortable and be more willing to take instruction with your presence.

The good thing about swim lessons is that they are a low level of commitment and tend to be pretty affordable. If your child attends a couple classes and find that it’s not for him, you can take a break for awhile. You won’t have to worry about falling behind if you wait and try again in a few months.

(For more tips about overcoming water fears, check out 10 Tips to Ease Your Child’s Fear of Swimming.)

Where can I find a swim lesson class for my child?

Start your search for swimming lessons on ActivityHero. You can see schedules for local swim schools, read reviews from other parents, and register online.

Just remember to be patient, listen to your child, and don’t push them into something if they’re not ready.

About ActivityHero Team

The ActivityHero Team is based in California and includes staff members and bloggers who love to share what they know about parenting, keeping kids active, choosing just the right camps and classes, and running successful businesses for kids.