"Can I, as a parent, teach my young child to swim?"
Our belief, based on years of teaching swimming and training swimming instructors is that yes, parents are capable of teaching important swimming skills, given the right preparation.
Here's the first thing you need to know.
A child’s fundamental relationship with the water, particularly as built in the first five years or so, is what has the most bearing on their ongoing safety in the water and their ability to learn good swim technique in the future.
That a child learns something that looks like freestyle arms, for instance, doesn't actually have much positive impact on their actual ability to swim.
On the other hand, their learning how to breathe comfortably, understanding how the water actually works, and learning about their natural buoyancy, are critical. And they’re all things that can be fostered early—even as young as the baby years.
Particularly in the baby-toddler years, a conscientious parent can instill those skills just as effectively as your average parent-child swim lesson.
Note that I didn’t say any swim lesson. An excellent swim program has a lot to offer, and there are a lot of game-changing instructors out there. But not all swim programs or instructors operate at the same effectiveness levels, and an above-average parent may be able to do just as much as your average swim instructor.
What is most required of the parent (or instructor) is a) a personal awareness of their own interactions with the water, and b) an empathetic observation of the child’s experience.
If you can incorporate those two things, then yes, you can be an effective swim instructor for your young child.
As your child learns, a greater level of swim knowledge will be required, whether you decide to acquire it yourself or recruit a swim program or instructor to take over from there.
In future blog posts, I’ll go through each of the fundamentals you’ll need to know in order to teach your young child those critical swimming skills.