Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged swimming

Swim Lessons for Kids: 4 Reasons Every Child Should Learn

swimming lessons for kids
Photo by Flickr user Crieff Hydro Hotel

Swim safely this summer! Learn to recognize the 5 danger signs of drowning and find out how swim lessons promote safety, self-confidence, and more.

By The ActivityHero Team

Swimming is great way for kids to beat the summer heat. Before you hit the beach or pool, first teach children how to be safe in or near the water–including learning to swim. Here are 4 solid reasons to start kids on swimming lessons.

1. Safety

Since drowning is the second highest cause of death involving children ages 1 through 14, kids need to learn how to be safe in or near the water. With formal lessons, children learn how to swim in a safe environment, and are taught swimming strokes and basic water safety techniques like floating and treading water. For kids aged 1 to 4, a U.S. study found that risk of drowning decreased by over 80% if children had taken swimming lessons. If your child will be in or near water, make sure their lessons prepare them to do these basic life-saving skills:

  • Tread water or float for at least 60 seconds.
  • Turn in a circle and be able to locate an exit.
  • Swim at least 25 yards before exiting the water.
  • Pull themselves out of the water without a ladder present.
  • Jump into the water until fully submerged and be able to return to the surface.

Children should also be coached in common-sense safe behaviors including walking instead of running when near water, only swimming when an adult can supervise, and being aware of weather and environmental conditions.

Find kids’ swim lessons and swim camps near me > >

Meanwhile, kids aren’t the only ones who need education about water safety. Many parents think, “that couldn’t happen to my family” or “as long as there are many adults present, we’ll be fine”. Both of these are dangerous misconceptions. In fact, three-quarters of drowning deaths take place in private pools. And up to half of all kids who drown are less than 25 yards away from an adult when the drowning occurs (source). Remember, drowning children can’t yell for help or wave their arms to get attention. A child who is making no noise might be in serious distress.

To recognize the true signs of drowning, and for much more safety advice, visit this comprehensive safety guide by Moms Love Best.

Source: Moms Love Best

For parents of young children, remember these water safety guidelines:

  • Stay within an arm’s reach of your child
  • 1:1 supervision is best
  • At a party, designate an adult whose sole focus is watching the pool or hire a lifeguard

2. Strength & Fitness

Learning a swim stroke can help with gross motor skills and basic coordination. Swimming can help a child build all-around muscle strength in arms and legs.  

Once they learn to swim, a child has a skill that can be used to improve fitness throughout his or her life. Since swimming is a low-impact activity, it puts less stress on joints while providing a wonderful aerobic activity. Swimming can improve both strength and cardiovascular health in one activity.

3. Social Development & Confidence

Most swim lessons take place in groups, and as they learn to swim, children are also learning social skills such as observing peers and learning to wait their turn. Another benefit: socialization for water activities, as children learn the difference between acceptable behavior and rough play that might hurt someone else. That distinction teaches children responsibility for their actions. A third factor supporting social development is that children who really enjoy swimming will continue on to activities such as swim teams, in the process developing friendships which may last a long time.

Parents, check our blog post on ways to cope with the special situation where your child has a definite fear of the water. Once they move past this stage, being able to thrive in a new, unfamiliar environment is a building block for confidence. Children of all ages can benefit from the growth that comes with overcoming challenges to learn a new skill.

4. Lifelong Skills

Experts suggest that, compared to adults, children have a much easier time of learning to swim. For parents, knowing that their child has strong swimming skills will increase their ability to enjoy time around water.

When a child is comfortable in the water and swimming successfully, it is truly a rewarding feeling. A parent can feel a sense of satisfaction that they have given their child a tool that will serve them well throughout their life. 

Before you sign up for swim camps or lessons, do some research to find out more about swim schools near you. You may want to learn about instructor background, class size, teaching style, cost, and the features of their facility, including pool size or temperature.

To find top-rated kids’ swim lessons and swim camps near you, visit ActivityHero.

Special Needs

5 Signs a Camp Really “Gets” Kids with Disabilities

Going to summer camp is a childhood experience no one should miss. Here, an expert in kids with special needs shares 5 ways to tell if camp staffers have the heart (and training) to embrace a child with disabilities.

By Katherine Teel

Summer camp is an unforgettable rite of passage for kids — but for some kids, it’s not as easy as packing a bathing suit and sleeping bag. Kids with disabilities want to do the things other kids do, including participating in camp activities, forming lasting friendships, and staying overnight in a cabin or tent. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all camps are now legally required to make reasonable accommodations that allow kids with special needs to attend. But having a wheelchair ramp doesn’t necessarily mean that a particular camp has ramped up its education and staffing to truly provide for and support children with disabilities.  

Here are some of the things parents should look for when considering a camp for their kids with special needs.

1. The Camp Uses People-First Language

People-first language means that a child is referred to as “a child with autism” or “a child with an intellectual disability,” and not “an autistic child” or “a retarded child.” (This is also important language to look for if you have a child with diabetes or a child with a peanut allergy!) There are two reasons this matters. First, this phrasing puts the emphasis on the whole personhood of the child, without identifying him primarily as someone with a disability; the disability is only a secondary characteristic. Second, people-first language is the accepted contemporary practice among educators and other people who work with children with disabilities, and if your camp isn’t familiar with this practice, chances are it isn’t familiar with other current practices either. Luckily, this is an easy aspect to investigate; you can look at the language used on the camp’s website!

2.The Camp Understands Your Child’s Specific Disability

Florida Special Touch Get Away - Lake Wales, FL
Florida Special Touch Get Away – Lake Wales, FL

There are countless kinds of disabilities a child may have, so it’s important that the camp you choose is prepared to serve your child’s needs, including those related to her specific disability. A camp for kids who have ADHD may not be well-equipped to work with children who also have a physical disability. If you decide to send your child to a mainstream — or inclusionary — camp, make sure that the staff knows your child’s needs and is able to and prepared to accommodate them.

3. The Camp Has Medical Staff On Site

Any mainstream camp should have — at minimum — a staff nurse and counselors trained in first aid. But many disabilities carry their own set of unique medical challenges, so you’ll want to make sure any camp you consider includes medical staff who are present at all times, trained in the specific needs of your child, and prepared to address not just an emergency, but an emergency that your child might encounter in relation to his or her disability. Also make sure that there’s a hospital within easy driving distance in the unlikely event your child needs urgent care.

4. The Camp Shares Your Goals

Many camps for kids with (and without) disabilities include goals such as increasing independence, developing leadership skills, trying new activities, developing social skills, and raising self-esteem. Most of them also want to provide a safe place for kids to be without their parents for the first time. Make sure your goals for your child and the camp’s goals for its campers are compatible.

5. The Cost Fits Your Budget

Camp Easter Seals UCP Virginia - New Castle, VA
Camp Easter Seals UCP Virginia – New Castle, VA

Residential camps, especially those with trained staff and specialized equipment, can get pricey. If you can’t afford an overnight camp, your child might enjoy a day camp or a shorter-term overnight camp — for example, a weekend getaway instead of a week-long program. It’s also possible that financial aid and scholarships may be available from either the camp itself or from charitable organizations. Ask the camp director for tips on applying for aid. Before making the down payment, make sure the outlay won’t stress you financially — that’s not helpful to you or your child. When you do find the right camp, the benefits to your child can be extraordinary — and well worth the investment.

Look for Local Camps for Kids with Disabilities

Visit to discover local camps that provide a variety of services and programs for kids with physical disabilities, autism, or other special needs. Start your online search — and get ready to add “expert summer camper” to your child’s list of accomplishments!

Additional Online Resources


After-School Activities Parenting Resources Super Activities for Super Kids

What Are the Best Summer Camps for Your Child’s Personality?

Any parent can tell you that all kids are truly one-of-a-kind. So how does a parent go about picking the right summer camps for their unique child?

Not all little girls want to be ballerinas at dance camp, and all boys are not fit to be a star at sports camp. Not only do different activities help keep kids active and healthy; they also help build self-confidence, creativity, and are a great form of stress relief.

Explore All Summer Camps >>

Step 1: Ask for their input

Perhaps your daughter has caught the fever for archery after seeing Katniss and Princess Merida in action, or the last season of The Voice has your son belting out tunes that beg for voice lessons. While parents have the final say in what activities kids will pursue, keep in mind that all kids should be allowed to have their own personal goals and preferences.

Step 2: Assess their personality

Another way to help choose summer camps for your kids is to take cues from their personality traits. For instance, a child who longs to explore might not find foreign language camps as exciting as an outdoor adventure camp. Here’s a few recommendations on how to find the perfect summer camps for your child:

How to find a summer camp

Explore All Summer Camps >>

Encourage your kids to explore and check out all of the different camps and classes in your area on ActivityHero!

Written by Sarah Antrim