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To think that swimming lessons before the age of three are totally pointless

(120 Posts)
ReallyTired Thu 07-Nov-13 11:33:07

I know that newborns can supposely hold their breathe and swim under water, but no small child is safe with water. As far as water confidence goes a family splash session is as effective as an expensive lesson.

Dd started swimming lessons at three years and three months. After three terms of lessons she can now swim 5 metres on both her front and back. I believe it is developmental readiness that determines whether a child learns to swim early or not. There are children in dd's old swimming class who had lessons as babies and children in her new swimming class (all of whom can swim 5 metres) who have only had a couple of terms of lessons.

I feel the risks of baby swimming lessons (ie. glue ear, mum dying of boredom) outweigh the benefits. Its better to wait until the child is actually told enough to follow instructions and you can sit in the cafe while your little darling kicks around with a float.

Mintyy Thu 07-Nov-13 11:39:32

Fair enough.

ClipClap Thu 07-Nov-13 11:40:05

Live and let swim! I love my Sunday morning lie ins whilst DH takes DD (2) to her lesson. She can't swim, but she gets some time doing something she finds fun with her DF.

WhatTheFoxSays Thu 07-Nov-13 11:40:34

but no small child is safe with water.

I'd assume that their parents would be there in the lesson to help them for babies that young, no.

My local swimming pool starts lessons from 18 months I think. I'm not sure exactly how effective that would be at that age.

Mylovelyboy Thu 07-Nov-13 11:41:08

Totally agree with you.

livinginwonderland Thu 07-Nov-13 11:42:25

Lessons at a young age are more about introducing the child to water and getting up their confidence, not them "learning" to swim per se.

Pascha Thu 07-Nov-13 11:45:11

Of course they're pointless in terms of learning to swim. Good fun though and structured which suits me perfectly. I wouldn't give it up for anything.

Cuddlydragon Thu 07-Nov-13 11:45:27

Ok then. My DS has gone to swimming lessons since he was 4 months old. I can't say I'm bored, I love it. He loves it and I love that he loves it. It's been great tbh. It can be a faff but for that reason a set day and time in a warm pool with other babies gives me an incentive to go. For what it's worth at 16 months he's been trained to hold on to the side when he falls in and hold on, it's amazing to watch.

ubik Thu 07-Nov-13 11:47:08

Oh god yeah.

Honestly if I see another toddler screaming at the poolside or sobbing while in the water, I will scream.

I just sit there thinking why don't you just go to the local pool and have a nice time? Why are you wasting your money fok g something the kid doesn't enjoy?

They will learn to swim but they do it quicker and with much more enthusiasm near age 4 (although there are some tots who get much earlier)

vvviola Thu 07-Nov-13 11:49:43

In the UK (and Ireland where I'm from) I'd agree with you.

Here in NZ where there are more swimming pools in people's gardens, more time at the beach, swimming lessons at a young age tend to teach respect for the water and "pre-swimming skill".

For example - I take 2yo DD2 swimming every week. Other than just having a bit of fun, the key things that they seem to be trying to teach them are:
- not to get in the water without a parent saying so (every exercise is started with the parent saying the child's name & "ready, go"
- how to hold on to the edge
- how to climb out (DD2 appear to have inherited my puny upper body strength but there are little ones her age able to haul themselves up out of the pool)

Yes, there's "swimming" too (this week DD managed with the help of two noodles to kick and paddle her hands and "swim" without me holding her, she thinks she's the bees knees wink), but mostly it's water confidence and awareness.

Proper classes start at 3. And seeing them all sitting on the steps of the pool at that age, complete with goggles and hats is just adorable. grin

Would I be doing it with her if we were back home. Probably not. Am I glad to have the opportunity here? Absolutely.

iwantanafternoonnap Thu 07-Nov-13 11:49:45

Mine has gone from the age of 4 months and loves it now and he's 3 and can swim 25 meters. My friend son could swim 25 meters by the age of 2.

They could both jump in and turn to hold the sides from a very young age and this is extremely important if they ever fell in a pond, stream etc and there has been a fair few articles in newspaper where this very skill has probably saved the kids life as they didn't panic and get swept away.

I haven't been in the swimming classes since he was 2!! I never found it boring before then either.

KuppiKahvia Thu 07-Nov-13 11:55:52

It is good for young children to have regular time in the pool. If it is a booked and payed for "lesson" that means time is made for this then that is a good thing. I agree that a lesson is no better than time in the pool with an involved parent.
I personally think that even 3 is too young for most children to be in formal lessons. Our pool runs lessons for children in the pool without their parent from 4 and this is about right, their co-ordination is good enough and the huge majority can stand up in the shallow end.

bonkersLFDT20 Thu 07-Nov-13 11:57:18

Hmmm, I'm not sure I agree entirely.

I can swim, but am quite cautious. When I took the kids swimming as babies and toddlers, I'd be hovering around them worried they'd slip and go under. I was stunned when we started DS2 with lessons when he was 3. In they all went, no fannying around wondering whether the child was nervous, the teacher just got on with it, oozing confidence and fun and the children followed. I was really twitchy watching DS, but of course he was fine.
I do think he would have benefitted from going in earlier and I also would have learnt that they are actually more OK than I thought.

Kewcumber Thu 07-Nov-13 11:59:53

Of course it didn't help DS to swim but it did help me work out how best to help him. Mind you he had a fear of water and if I didn't take him every week he regressed significantly. I found the structure of a lesson (with me in the water with him) much easier. Once they moved on to swimming without parents it had less point ime and we stopped until he was 3 or 4.

Maryz Thu 07-Nov-13 12:02:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ifyourehoppyandyouknowit Thu 07-Nov-13 12:02:41

To me it was more about getting DS used to the water so that when he eventually needs to know how to swim (which I do think is a necessary skill in life) he wasn't afraid of not being able to touch the bottom and getting his face wet. We're also teaching him to not get in the water without us, how to hold on to the side and at the minute (he's nearly 2) he's learning to 'swim' with armbands on (basically just self propelling through the water). He also knows to hold his breath when he goes under water. Going to baby swimming lessons was great purely because it taught me how to interact with him in the water (ie not hold him close to my body, let him get used to floating) gave us ideas on games we could play and things we could do in the water, and since it cost a small fortune it was the one activity that we always went to even when we just couldn't be bothered. We go once a week now still, and it's great.

Plus, babies sleep for AGES after a good swim!

Butterkistbutterkistrarara Thu 07-Nov-13 12:03:06

I took my DD to parent and toddler lessons at our local council pool from about 18 months, it was half an hour basic pool safety, singing songs, jumping in, learning to climb out of the pool safely. It also let us get priority into the pre-school swimming lessons. DD is newly 5 and we spent our holiday abroad this summer in the pool, splashing and swimming around. She can a breadth of the pool front crawl and back stroke now. Its a life skill I insist on her learning as we are 5 mins from the beach!

Blongle Thu 07-Nov-13 12:05:13

YANBU in that regular fun sessions in the pool are just as good as lessons at that age. However, lessons may have the following advantages:

1) Depending on the pool, it sometimes works out cheaper than paying to get into the pool.

2) Paying for a block of lessons gives slack parents a push to actually go to the pool regularly, that they might not get around to otherwise.

3) Great for parents who don't have water confidence.

4) Opportunity to meet other parents and children for those without a wide network of "mum friends"

5) Some parents and babies actually enjoy it!!

LeMatin Thu 07-Nov-13 12:07:25

You could say that about a lot of baby classes though. Swimming class was/is the highlight of the week for my DCs as young toddlers, and a nice social occasion for me. No, they didn't really learn to swim as such, but the got the idea of swimming, could self propel with a woggle by age 2.5 ish, and were confident in the water. DC1 was a fairly early independent swimmer, at around aged 4 (DC2 is still younger).

We could have done similar during family swims, but it wouldn't have been so sociable, and we wouldn't have had the peer influence aspect in terms of helping with new things like jumping in. Plus the swimming pool probably wouldn't have let me turn up with music, a bubble machine etc, and we don't have anywhere near the volume of equipment that the class teacher has.

So I consider baby swimming lessons to have been very beneficial for us.

LoopaDaLoopa Thu 07-Nov-13 12:09:33

Our little DD can swim. She's 2. We have a pool, and live in a country where there are lots of pools. I really don't think her having had lessons was a waste of time at all. confused

At 6 weeks, yeah, I agree, to a degree.

crispsarenotoneofyour5aday Thu 07-Nov-13 12:10:26

Another one who thinks they are very beneficial - both mine started at 16 weeks and could swim 25m by the age of two. Good for general health and for just being confident and enjoying the water. Pair of them much older now and still demonstrate seal-life qualities

Lvcat Thu 07-Nov-13 12:11:39

Things like water babies etc save lives.
They re-enforce the babies own natural instincts like the need to get to the surface if you're underwater and to get to a side(or something equivalent) and hold on so if (god forbid) the LO fell in a river or lake or pool they would instinctively do these things.

They give you the tools to help teach your LOs to swim too!

My niece was been going from 4 moths, she's now 19 months old an can swim (doggy paddle) across a pool with the need of only one armband. Which is truly an amazing thing to see grin

Bluebirdonmyshoulder Thu 07-Nov-13 12:12:53

Disagree. My DD started at 10 months and loves it.

But you're entitled to your opinion, not sure why you care what other people do though!

Blatherskite Thu 07-Nov-13 12:15:47

DS started lessons when he was 6 months old, DD was just a little over 1.

I signed up for them because I knew full well that left to my own devices, I would probably hardly ever take them swimming but once it was paid for in advance, I felt like I had to go. It might have looked like mostly songs and splashing to anyone watching but they learnt how to move through the water on their feet, not to be bothered about getting their faces wet and how to jump in and turn around to grab onto the side which could be a life-saving skill should they ever fall in. They learnt to listen to the teacher and to follow the pool rules like not running etc. It taught me not to be nervous and how to hold and interact with them to help fill them with confidence. Both started swimming without me in the pool at 3 and both are doing really well now. DD's (almost 4) teacher was very impressed yesterday when she got water in her mouth and just spat it out and carried on swimming.

I almost drowned as a child so I really need them to be safe in the water.

It might seem like a waste to you but I think it was worth every penny.

rachyconks Thu 07-Nov-13 12:17:11


My DD is almost one and can swim unaided a short distance underwater. She can also jump in from sitting on the side It undoubtedly helps her core strength and coordination. Most importantly,she has no fear of the water. I took her from 7 weeks. Proper lessons from 4-10months (they stopped unfortunately) and now we go as a family once a week. We are big swimmers/into water sports. It's really important to me that she learns this life skill.

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