We all know how important water safety is! But where do you even start to teach your child how to stay safe in the water? By teaching them how to float, of course! 

How to Teach a Child to Float in the Swimming Pool

At Fulton Swim School, we’re always saying that there is no right or wrong time to start swimming lessons

Now we’re in the summer holidays, you’re likely to have planned water-based activities with your family. While our swim schools closed briefly over Christmas, our lessons are back up and running as usual now! However, if you’re still out of town and you find yourself around the water these holidays, there is no reason why you can’t help your child get a head start on their swimming by helping to teach them some swimming basics. 

Here’s how to teach your child to float in the swimming pool this summer:

Start small 

There’s no need to jump in at the deep end when you teach your child how to float in water. The deep end will always be there, but there’s no need to rush into it. Starting small, or shallow as the case may be, is essential to keep your child safe and comfortable in the pool.

It’s also important to remember that sometimes learning isn’t linear. One day, your child may feel comfortable in the shallow end and feel like they are ready to venture a little deeper, the next time, they may only feel comfortable in the shallow end. When you teach your child how to float, it’s important to listen to how they are feeling - learning a new skill won’t happen overnight and that’s totally normal and completely okay! 

How to Teach a Child to Float

Overcome fear

Swimming can be scary for little ones who haven’t done much of it before and even more frightening for children who have had a bad experience in the past! 

Being in the water can be a sensory overload and it can feel like there are lots of unknowns. Having some fear is very normal, children who are nervous around water often feel apprehensive about getting their face wet and will try to avoid putting their face under altogether. 

Just because swimming is good for your child’s physical and mental health, doesn’t mean they’ll want to do it regularly - if only it was that easy, right?! That’s okay though, making it a fun experience and helping them to overcome their fears might just do the trick! *fingers crossed*

The Fulton Swim School family always encourages parents to acknowledge their child’s fear and talk through it with them. We love to celebrate success! We recommend that you avoid putting pressure on your child to achieve a certain milestone by a certain time, just provide lots of positive reinforcement, celebrate them whenever they make progress, and move forward at your child’s preferred pace so that they can feel they have some control over the situation. 

Take a deep breath

Focusing on breathing is really important to float in the water, and it’ll help to control any anxiety your child might experience too! You can explain the importance of breath to your child and show them that deep, slow breaths help you to stay floating on your back. 

Before you get your child to have a go at floating in the water, help them learn to use their breath outside of the pool. Get them to place one hand on their chest and the other on their tummy and breathe slowly all the way into their diaphragm.

Build trust 

Building trust by spending time in the water with your child, playing games and always being there to help when they feel anxious or uncomfortable will go a long way to help them learn how to float with you! Never, ever joke about splashing your child, letting go if you’re holding them in the water, or anything else that could make them uncomfortable. 

It’s also important to lead by example - demonstrate floating yourself! When your child sees how relaxing and enjoyable floating in the water can be, they’ll be more inclined to trust that they could do it too, and want to give it a go for themselves. 

How to Teach a Child to Float in pool

Lend a helping hand

When your child is ready to give floating a go for themselves, lend a helping hand by taking some of their weight in the water! By placing your hands underneath their back and neck, you can help to stabilise your child while they get a feel for floating without them having to worry about getting their face wet or swallowing water. 

Since you’ve built trust with them in the water already, they’ll know that you will help to keep their face above the water, and you won’t take your hands away unless they tell you it’s okay to do so. You can also help by reminding them to focus on their breathing and, when they are ready to stand upright again, you can help them right themselves. 

Make it fun 

Learning how to float is serious business. But it can also be seriously fun! Leave room to be a little silly and have a lot of fun!

If your child doesn’t feel ready to try floating on their back and they are avoiding getting their face wet, our favourite recommendation is to blow lots of bubbles! Kids always love this and it allows them to get as much of their face wet as they feel comfortable with while staying completely in control and having lots of fun! 

In no time at all, your child will be enjoying their time in the pool, just remember to keep at it and make each session a fun and enjoyable one for your little one.

Enrol in swimming lessons

We know you’ll make great progress over your summer break, but if you’d like to enrol your child in swimming lessons this year, we’d love to hear from you!

Whether it’s because you’d like some extra help teaching your child to float, or because they’ve caught the swimming bug and they’d like to take their swimming to the next level, find your nearest Fulton Swim School, and pop in to say hello this new year!