How long will it take for my child to learn to swim? To be specific, every parent wants to know how long it’ll take for their children to acquire the necessary skills to save themselves from drowning. It is important to know that no one, not even Olympic swimmers, is drown-proof, so supervision by the water is still essential.
The truth is, there is no answer as each child is different. The time taken for each child to learn how to swim depends on many factors, which will be discussed later in this post.
Guidelines on duration a child takes to learn to swim
The below guidelines are based on children who attend weekly, 30-minute private lessons all year round.
Babies who begin to learn to swim between the ages of 6 months to 18 months old: one to two years to learn to be safe in water
Toddlers who start swimming lessons between the ages of 18 months to 3 years old: about one year
Children older than 3 years old with no previous swimming experience: 6 months to one year to learn to be safe in the water
With group lessons, the process of learning to swim is slower. Nonetheless, we usually encourage group lessons as it is more enjoyable and fun for children to learn and play together.
Factors affecting progress in learning to swim
1. Consistency of lessons
Once kids begin swimming lessons, consistency is key. It is important to not take unnecessary long breaks from swimming until the child can swim independently.
MoovSwim advocates a consistent swimming schedule to allow muscle memory to form in children and to keep the progress going. Practice makes perfect, and children enjoy routine in their lives. If your child falls sick, allow them to recover before resuming swim lessons. Taking breaks from lessons for holidays will set back the learning process. The child will have to reacclimatise with the water or relearn previously learned skills upon resuming swimming.
Most parents opt for having their children swim once a week due to busy schedules or financial aspects. It is ok for weekly lessons, but adding in an additional swim session on your own allows for great progress. This also increases their confidence in the water and aids in faster learning.
3. Fear of water
Children who are introduced to water at an early age and in a positive manner are more likely to love water and not be afraid. This aids in faster learning. The love of water begins during bath time, by allowing water to flow gently down the face of your baby instead of wiping it off his or her face.
Children who are fearful of water takes longer to learn to swim. It is important to first help kids overcome their fear of water before they can truly enjoy the learning process, and this may take some time. MoovSwim believes in making lessons fun and cultivated the love of learning through gentle encouragement.
Parents can play an active role by bringing their children to the pool as often as possible. Be gentle and help your child feel safe rather than trying to teach them swimming skills, and working at the child’s pace is vital. Once the child is relaxed and happy in the water, learning skills such as submerging the face or the back float will come easier.
4. Motor skills and natural abilities
Physical abilities, coordination and motor skills determine how quickly a child will learn to swim. Learning to swim comes easier to children with good natural abilities, such as the case in Joseph Schooling. Children who have weaker motor skills may take longer to learn. Thus, parents should be patient with the child’s progress. MoovSwim works with the child’s pace, and during each lesson, customised attention is catered to each child. Swimming lessons help children improve their motor skills and coordination.
5. Private versus group swimming lessons
Children who enrol in private lessons will learn to swim faster, as all the attention of the coach goes to the child. If the child is willing to listen and is able to take instruction well, private lessons will aid in fast and efficient learning.
Group lessons are fun social activities. Children can play together and get motivated watching their peers. Such lessons are especially efficient if the abilities of all the children are about the same. When children of varying abilities come together for a common class, special attention is given to each child by the coach. Thus, it may appear to parents that their child do not get to swim a lot. 30 minutes is usually the recommended duration, as that is found to be the optimal amount of learning time. This also explains why schools often have 30-period academic lessons.
Do 5 year olds learn to be safe in the water quicker than 2 year olds or than children who start swimming at 6 months old? It depends on all the factors described so far. In general, babies younger than 18 months old don’t have a fear of water, which makes it easier when they are learning to swim. With consistent and frequent lessons, they can learn breath control, the back float, how to roll from front to back and other water safety skills, just as fast as 5 year olds. Children who start learning at an younger age will become more comfortable and natural in the water at that younger age.
Older children may have better motor skills, but a fear of water may hinder their progress. Thus, it’s never too early to start them on swimming lessons!