Pre-School

Swim Lessons

Have any of you tried formal swim lessons for your LO? DS1 will be 4 1/2 this summer and I'm thinking about it. He loves the water (lakes, pools) when we are in it together. But we did try a drop off gym and swim program for kids his age a year ago, and he was not into the swim lesson part at all. Learning to swim is extremely important to me for safety reasons, so I want him to learn soon. But I'm not sure at what age they are really ready for this.
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Re: Swim Lessons

  • Group swim lessons for 3-5yos really help get kids comfortable in water, IME- but, they rarely actually teach a child to swim. We're doing that on our own, but, private lessons would be the way to go if you're interested. Then back to group lessons for technique/fun. :)

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  • rsd12rsd12
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    The summer before my older boys took group swim lessons at a lake and loved it. The were 3 and 5. This past summer our pond ended up closing early so no swim lessons, but my then 6 yr old taught himself to swim. This summer I signing up my oldest two boys again. The don't offer swim lessons for 3 year olds. Bummer.
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  • Leap08Leap08
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    We've done lessons since DD1 was about 1.5. We started in parent/child classes and now she does a group lesson with 3 other kids. They still aren't really working on strokes. They work on being comfortable on your back and on your belly, and they work on things like going under water and jumping in the water. They earn badges for mastering skills and advance through levels. I think she needs to master 2 more levels before she transitions to stroke school. Personally, I don't care if she can't swim strokes until 5 or so. I just want her to be comfortable in the water, and she totally is.
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  • jbl126jbl126
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    I am signing my girls up for private lessons.  At this point, I will be happy if they just get in the water
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  • AZ123AZ123
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    We started DS1 doing 1x semi private (him and one other kid) lessons when he was 4.5 years old. He's now 5 and can swim very well. He's in the intermmediate/advanced class.

    From talking to other moms, I learned that you really have to do private or semi private and on a consistent basis if you want to get them to learn to swim.  Also, picking the right time of day is helpful and making sure the pool is heated really well. A cold pool equals a child that doesn't want to go in the water.

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  • I have taken LO swimming since she was 1, and she loves it, but a year or two ago she got where she wanted to be independent in the pool and wanted to use the life vests. I was against them more or less because of the fear kids her too dependent on them... And she did. She got to where she loved swimming but hated getting her face/eyes wet. She used to love to jump in, but with the puddle jumper I got her, she'd go under briefly and she hated that, so I had to catch her fully if she jumped. Last summer I had to hold her hand going down the slide so she wouldn't go under, etc. so, it was time for lessons.

    I couldn't get LO to the regular classes because she had gymnastics during the Safurday time and we can't quite make it to the weekday evening classes. So we did private lessons, twice a week for 8 lessons. 2 months ago the kid wouldn't get her face wet at all, and now she can swim independently for a few yards to the stairs or the wall or between mommy and daddy. She will dive under to get her SpiderMan toys. She will jump in, go under, and swim to me.

    Honestly I doubt she would be as far along if she'd had group lessons. I am very happy and hoping this summer will mean she can be pretty independent in the 3' kid pool including the slide. We'll see but she's currently quite proud and enjoys it also.

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  • I politely disagree that children typically don't learn how to swim in group classes. We put my oldest son in a group class last summer when he was 4 years old. He started out not wanting to put his head under water much less knowing how to float, and he was swimming within two weeks. After two months, he could swim under water, dive head first into the deep end, and tread water, along with being proficient with the backstroke and the freestyle with side breathing.The other kids that were in his classes had similar results.

    There are other factors involved... Some kids just aren't coordinated enough to pick up the strokes until they are closer to 5 or 6 years old. Some are very fearful of the water, others don't like following directions. But I think if you have a good swim teacher, they could work past most of these obstacles. At least that is what I saw through our swim program last year. 

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  • We did 6 months of lessons after age 3 and here is my take. The basics for "lessons" at this age is really to get the kids comfortable in the water, but comfort transitions to confidence learning how to swim. My DD learned how to blow bubbles, put her face under, and and some basic strokes. I think the key is finding a small group lessons. We did a class with 3 kids total and that was the perfect amount.

    Keep your expectations low and you will be happy. I really did enjoy the 6 months of lessons. 

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  • KL777KL777
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    DS started swim lessons at the "Y" last summer through early fall (age 4.5) and he LOVED it. He'll be doing it again this year.

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  • hocushocus
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    We do a swim class and my kid is 3.5. My daughter loves her class. It is a kid only class (no parents in the pool).

    The class is 30 mins. They focus just on getting a very basic crawl in place (so kicking and a scoping motion with the arms). Once the kids can really swim on their own for a certain distance they can move into the next lesson type where they'll refine their stroke, teach breaking techniques and teach new strokes like back stroke. I think it may take 6 months or so until my kid is ready to move up but she's having a lot of fun for now. If she started later she's probably catch on faster.

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  • jlw2505jlw2505
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    My girls have been in formal swim lessons since age 3.  We started older DD at the Y in a mom and me type class the summer she was 2 and hated the class.  The following year, when she was 3, we started her in a class that is kids only at an amazing swim school in our area.  At age 3, classes are 3 kids with 1 teacher and they bring in another teacher if needed.  My younger DD started at the same school in a parent class at 18 months but hated it so we pulled her out after trying for 6 months and started her again at age 3 and she loved it.  WE love the school and my girls look forward to classes.  At almost 7 and 5 years, both are really great swimmers and are working on strength and improving their strokes and my older DD is working on some of the more advanced strokes now.  I personally would not make swim lessons an option.  Research the swim schools in your area and find one you are really comfy with.  Everyone needs to know how to swim for safety. 
    Jenni Mom to DD#1 - 6-16-06 DD#2 - 3-13-08 
  • We are in Southern California and our pediatrician wanted us to start swimming lessons at age 2.  We started our little guy just after his 2nd birthday (most of the kids here we know started between 1-3) and he's in a class with 2 other kids which is pretty typical out here.  The first few months he got comfortable with putting his face under and learning to breathe properly/not swallow water and within 4 months he was pulling himself up over the side, jumping in and swimming over to the instructor.  I'm really happy that we're doing lessons and I think they have been really valuable.
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  • We started swimming lessons with DD1 at 3 years. She did a parent/child class where they transition the parent out of the water by the 3rd class. She's continued to take lessons on a regular basis since. She started to swim by herself without a bubble belt for assistance at 6 years. It took her that long before she would willingly put her face in the water.

    DD2 took a parent/child for the first time at 15 months. Then we took a break and started again at 2 years. She's taken lessons with us off and on since then. She does really well swimming by herself with the bubble belt, so I'm hoping by fall she'll be able to do a class alone.

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  • We have done them for the past 4 years for DS1.  He can swim but not as well as I'd like, so we are doing them again this year.   DD has done them since she was 1 and is a great swimmer.  DS2 is taking his first class this summer.  
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  • My kids have both done swimming lessons on and of since they were infants.  When my older son was 4 years old he really took to his group lesson and now at age 5 can swim 20m unassisted.  The lessons made all of the difference.

    DS2 is currently 4 and not a swimmer at all.  Hoping this year will be the year that it clicks for him.

    I agree.  Learning to swim is a necessary life skill that cannot be overlooked.

    ETA: locally, the group lessons for kids that age are based on skill level and classes are no larger than 6.  Many nights it was him and just one other kid in the lesson.

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  • We did group lessons for DD1 at three and four. She did okay, but didn't learn a whole lot. 

    DH takes her and DD2 to the pool often. We went to the OBX with DH's family last summer and DD1 learned in a week of having access to a pool all day, every day at age 4.5. So now we just take her to the pool every couple of weeks so she can practice and get stronger at it. 

    We may do lessons again at some point for teaching strokes. Since I have two LOs, I've also considered the joint/semi-private lessons that our rec center offers, so it's basically a class with just the two of them. 

    DD2 will start preschool in the fall and they have a little indoor pool and the kids do swim lessons as part of their day, which is pretty awesome. I'm not sure she'll actually learn to swim -- she's still only three -- but she'll get comfortable and have fun.

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  • LoCarbLoCarb
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    We are tiring it this yr with school. They offer a program during shool he's and transport the kids by bus to their lessons. DD is excited'
    Mommy of two girls: DD1 4/14/9 DD2 4/15/11
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  • DS started formal lessons when he was about 2 years old. He did great and loved it. DH or I had to be in the pool with him. In the beginning it was about teaching him to not be afraid, not panic and how to climb out if he accidentally fell in. Later he did actually learn to swim. I can't wait to get him back in lessons.
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  • My understanding is that for swim lessons aligned w/the Red Cross levels they can start at age 3- he is plenty old enough!  We had both of our girls in the pool with us by the time they were 5-6mos old and both went into lessons at age 3.  My oldest is 8 and just completed the highest level of Red Cross (Level 6)- she seriously passed me up in swimming ability when she was about 5 :)  We pretty much have done lessons for at least 6months out of every year, if not more.  My youngest is is 5 and will be doing these until she completes Level 6, and my oldest is now looking at swim team.  I am a *huge* proponent of lessons for water safety!!
  • I was a swim instructor for several years teaching all ages infant to adult.  I mostly did the "pre-beginners" which was ages 3-6.  Our classes were limited to 6 and were done in the leisure pool where all the kids could stand.  The level 1 classes taught water comfort--putting face in the water, etc.  Level 2 classes were the ones that were most often failed and repeated--the child had to be able to float on his back and on his stomach unassisted and do a few strokes ("ice cream scoops" plus flutter kick), put his face in the water and blow bubbles and a few other things.

    My advice is that as a parent you have to know your child.  Group lessons are significantly cheaper than private lessons.  If you are doing semi-private lessons (with 2 children), the children should be around the same age and level.  It is really hard to do a lesson with a 4 year old beginner and a 10 year old who needs stroke refinement.  Other than the infant lessons and one unique semi-private (one brother had a phobia of the water, the other had Downs syndrome, so dad was in the water with me as an extra set of eyes/hands), all of my lessons were without parents.

    The kids do a lot better without their parents in their, but parents should be watching from the side.  Basically, if your kid is great at following directions, won't wander off, etc. group lessons are probably fine.  If your kid thrives more from individual attention then do privates. 

    But the key is getting a good instructor.

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  • You've gotten a lot of responses, but I will add my $.02 anyway.

    "Baby" swim lessons, where the parent is in the water with the child really focus on pre-swimming skills like learning not to be scared, blowing bubbles, etc..  Swim lessons for preschoolers are more about safety, putting your face in, floating, learning the basic strokes like front and back paddle, etc. 

    Often, swim lessons are offered for preschoolers who are ages 3 - 6.  I think age 3 is early for some kids.  My son had a hard time with the physiological aspect of holding his breath when he was 3.  Also, he was not ready to listen and pay attention to a teacher at that age. 

    My kids both took swimming from the local YMCA starting at age 4.  The lessons were very effective, and they both learned to swim well enough to swim solo in the deep end by age 6. 

    Secondary English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 9th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 4th grade
  • steverstever
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    I learned around 5 or 6 so will do the same with my boys.
  • My DD has been going to swim lessons since she was 7 months old and loves them. About a year and a half ago, we moved and started going to YMCA swim lessons. The way their program is set up is that you start with whatever level your child is comfortable at, we started with parent and child. About a month into it, she was comfortable enough to go in the water by herself. But if your child isn't by the end of the session (2 months here), you can repeat this level and move on when he's ready.
  • We enrolled dd in private swim lessons when she was 2 3/4 years old this past Jan. so far she can float on her back unassisted and has great "breathing control"... I def feel that swim lessons have benefited her greatly! :-)

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