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Activity Guide

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Choosing swimming classes for kids

Oct 6, 2022

Oct 6, 2022


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How can I find a kids swimming class near to me?

Simply check out our book an activity page. You’ll find that you can search by activity type, distance from your postcode, your child’s age, and preferred day of the week. With help from Pebble, you can find a class suitable for your child and your timetable and, in most cases, book your slot online.

How old do you have to be for swimming lessons?

As always, the “right” age for starting any activity depends on your child. However, the range of classes varies hugely, with some providers offering mother and baby sessions (more on this below!) and others not starting until your child is able to follow directions, at around school-age. Learners who are in their early years are better able to overcome the fear of water, which is the first step in learning to swim. Therefore, as with many skills in life, “the sooner the better” rule applies - just be aware that learning competitive strokes comes secondary to basic water skills.

Can I take my baby to swimming lessons?

Yes, absolutely. Generally, the advice is to wait until your baby is a few months old and has had their first injections - as always, we would recommend checking with your health visitor if you want to start young. At a young age, the classes are usually for a parent and child to attend together, so expect to be in the water with your baby. Baby swimming classes are all about familiarisation and will usually involve some singing, play, and a lot of splashing! Make sure the pool you go to is warm, that the classes aren’t too long, and that you get out and wrap up warm if your baby gets too cold or is distressed by the water.

What are the main benefits of swimming classes for kids?

As we’ve mentioned already, swimming is the only sport that can actually save your child’s life - but it has a host of other benefits too. Swimming uses nearly all muscles, so provides an all-over body workout, which helps to keep kids healthy, tones muscles, and promotes heart health. Swimming lessons are also great for helping children to follow instructions, set and achieve goals, and build confidence. One of the wonderful things about swimming is that it is often more accessible to children with disabilities than many other sports, as explained in this article from WheelPower website.

Should my child’s swimming classes follow a structure or curriculum?

Yes, the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme is the national syllabus used to help teachers deliver swimming lessons and to ensure consistently high standards. According to the Swim England website, the programme is split into stages:

Pre-School Framework – This Framework is aimed at babies and toddlers aged between 0-5 years old. It helps to build the foundation for a lifelong love of water.

Learn to Swim Framework – This Framework is made up of the seven stages of learning to swim, which develop confident and able swimmers using fun and enjoyment to engage learners.

Aquatic Skills Framework – This Framework is made up of three advanced stages, from eight to ten. These build sport-specific skills for the other aquatic disciplines, Water Polo, Diving, and Synchronised Swimming.

Adult Swimming Framework – This Framework is suitable for older teenagers and adults of all ages and aims to improve confidence and technique, whatever their swimming ability.

What should I think about when choosing swimming lessons for my child?

Water safety skills

Swimming lessons for kids should focus on water competency skills. This includes learning how to get back to the surface from underwater, propel themselves, climb safely out of the pool, and attract help if needed. Lessons should provide training by role-playing a variety of realistic conditions, such as falling in, swimming in clothes, and “rescuing” objects from the bottom of the pool.

Competent, qualified swimming instructors

Instructors should hold the relevant qualifications, follow a nationally recognised curriculum such as the Swim England one, and evaluate and feedback on progress. They should also have a current first aid qualification, hold insurance, and be DBS checked. You might find that many swimming schools are run by people who have swam competitively in the past - although this is not a prerequisite for a good coach!

Age appropriate and fun

While having a healthy respect for water is vital, and life-saving skills are an absolute must, it is also important that classes are fun. Look for coaches who strive to make the classes age-appropriate - especially for younger children. Do they use floats and toys to engage them, are the teachers fun, and do they build a rapport with the children? Importantly, do the instructors get in the pool with your child?

Water temperature

Hypothermia is a risk in younger children, so look for a class where the water is warm.

Ongoing learning opportunities

Depending on what you want from the classes, it can be a good idea to think about whether the classes have opportunities for ongoing development. Are they just for toddlers, or can they keep going? Do they cover all stages? Do they have classes or ongoing coaches for teens? Are there opportunities for your child to swim competitively if they want to?

What equipment does my child need for their swimming lessons?

At the risk of stating the obvious, your child will need a well-fitting swimming costume or trunks, and a towel, as a basic requirement. Some insist on swimming hats, so check with your provider. Most swimming classes will provide buoyancy aids, if needed. You might also want to consider getting some goggles too. And, as any parent knows, it is always a good idea to have some snacks at the ready when they get out of the pool - swimming can be hungry work!

Ready to dive in? Look for a swimming class in your area on our book an activity page.