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Do children need swimming lessons?

(97 Posts)
scattyspice Wed 27-Aug-08 16:34:13

DS is 5 and can swim with armbands (and underwater without!). All his friends have swimming lessons, but he is reluctant to go (he gets shy in groups where he doesn't know anyone).

Has anyone successfully taught their DC to swim without lessons or is he missing out by not going?

claricebeansmum Wed 27-Aug-08 16:35:36

Swimming is a life skill.
It should be compulsory in schools IMO.

If you think you can teach him to, then do.

Is is possible he could have a 1 to 1 lesson or two or share with a mate?

thebecster Wed 27-Aug-08 16:38:19

I've taught my DS - he's 2.3 and can swim half a width without flotation aid, and up to ten lengths with a noodle.

But he's never worn armbands, and has been swimming at least three times a week since he was 4 months old. How much time are you willing to put in? And are you a really strong swimmer with a good clean stroke yourself for him to learn? If you're not 100% sure, then I'd send him for lessons but make sure he's with his friends.

Must admit I hate armbands as I think they encourage poor freestyle and water positioning.

cariboo Wed 27-Aug-08 16:42:51

I was taught by my grandparents & later had group lessons. Am proud of my ability - it's the only sport I can beat dh at! Seriously, not knowing how to swim is definitely a handicap but that isn't the issue here, is it? Of course you can teach your ds! Even the basics, like floating (treading water) and the dog-paddle. When he gets older, he'll probably feel more confident & be willing to take lessons from a certified swimming teacher.

Majeika Wed 27-Aug-08 16:43:16

Swimming is sooooo important imho.

Both my boys have suddenly 'got it!' They are 6 and 3 and can now swim unaided for 5 metres.

They had an intensive week of swimming during the summer and will have lessons once term starts again.

It is a life skill.

scattyspice Wed 27-Aug-08 16:49:07

I don't dispute that swimming is important (and good fun) the lad loves going swimming as does his sister. I was wondering whether he would just sort of pick it up by being taken to the baths regularly.

Thebecster, you make it sound quite complicated hmm.

I have tried to fit in with friends, but you have to go on a waiting list for the lessons so he is unlikely to end up in a group with kids he knows.

ajm200 Wed 27-Aug-08 16:56:49

Like everything, it probably depends on the child, their confidence and the confidence of their teacher.

We took my son to baby lessons from 4 months and stopped recently as they were off more than they were on so he started to dislike them. We also took him to the swimming baths ourselves and have managed to get him swimming with just a noodle from 19 months. He can swim for up to 30 mins like that. He will also jump in and swim underwater to the noodle and can swim to the side to climb out. I doubt he'd have this confidence without having had lessons. The lifeguards have less confidence in his ability until they've seen him a few times.

I used to go to the swimming pool to splash around in the hopes I would learn from my parents but didn't. In fact it knocked my confidence and I'm still not a confident swimmer despite formal lessons.

I have every intention of restarting his lessons as soon as I am phyically able to climb in and out of the pool.

thebecster Wed 27-Aug-08 16:57:02

Sorry, don't mean to make it sound complicated, but I know how much hard work I've put in to teaching DS to swim and don't want to give you false expectations iyswim. And it's a bit dangerous for a kid to think he can swim (because he's been to the swimming pool a lot) but actually not to have a strong stroke. I don't think he'll pick it up enough just by being taken regularly, and it's too important to mess around with.

My niece & nephew had a backyard pool and were in the water 3 hours a day every day (Australia), but they still needed lessons to learn to swim. The only reason I'm teaching DS myself at the mo is that we're waiting for a place on another batch of swimming lessons. Sorry, unless you're well into it yourself (which as you can tell, I really am!) I think your DS will have to go to lessons.

ajm200 Wed 27-Aug-08 16:58:25

What about one-to-one lessons. There are private swim schools that offer them and they often don't have a waiting list. Our private lessons for LO are only 30 pounds per term more than lessons at the public baths.

thumbwitch Wed 27-Aug-08 17:02:37

Yes, absolutely; I couldn't swim until I was 12 thanks to not being taken swimming by my parents - invaluable lifeskill, saves lives.

My DS has been going to baby-swimming lessons since he was 4mo.

My junior school did try in terms of teaching me to swim but by the time I was 9/10, the baby pool was really too shallow to learn as it wasn't deep enough to learn to tread water even.

moshie Wed 27-Aug-08 17:03:10

Best thing I ever did for my kids, they swim so much better than me. They learnt how to breathe properly while swimming, how to do the strokes correctly and aren't bothered about going under at all, whereas I hate having my face in the water. I could never have taught them half as well myself.

tortoiseshell Wed 27-Aug-08 17:03:19

I think it can depend on the child. I have taken my children swimming every week from age 4 months or so.

Ds1 really needed weekly lessons - he is 7 and has just done his 25m, on his front and his back. He was very nervous about water on his face, but he is over that now and is very confident in the water - underwater, and on the surface. He will continue lessons as he is really benefiting from the atm - both in terms of stamina and stroke development - he can do a pretty good front crawl, breast stroke and back crawl.

Dd had a term of lessons, which was a big mistake - she lost all the confidence she had gained (when she started she was starting to swim a bit unaided, by the end of the term she would barely get in the water). I allowed her to stop lessons on the proviso that she 'allowed' me to teach her. We go once a week pretty reliably (obviously not every week, but I try to make sure we go most weeks). She was 5 this month and can swim about 5m on her front, and has just mastered swimming on her back, both without any floats/aids etc. SHe does a pretty good back crawl, and not bad front crawl. She will have swimming lessons this year in school (Y1) so it will be interesting to see how she gets on.

Ds2 is only 2 but is already very confident in the water.

thumbwitch Wed 27-Aug-08 17:06:16

sorry, should have read OP better - group swimming classes might not be right for your DS but so long as he goes regularly and learns to swim without the armbands (and has self-survival lessons at some point) he should be ok.

If you are a good swimmer, you teach him. If not, then find him a swim coach. Or send him to a school where swimming lessons are compulsory.

bossykate Wed 27-Aug-08 17:07:03

our two 7 and 4 can swim and were both taught by dh.

moondog Wed 27-Aug-08 17:08:17

No. Complete waste of time.
Ican't believe parents go to all that fuss to cart them there and back,and then sit around looking bored while their kid has 20 mins. max in the pool.

Take them yerselves,you lazy feckers!!

Majeika Wed 27-Aug-08 17:10:35

But unless you know what you are doing Moondog then it will be a waste of time!

and my boys prefer to splash around with me rather than do proper swimming!

McDreamy Wed 27-Aug-08 17:11:04

DD is 5 and is an excellent swimmer! She swam out to a diving platform in the sea the other day with her dad and I watched them running and jumping off over and over again.

She has had regular lessons since she was 3 and while I was confident to teach her confidence in the water there i no way I could have got her to the standard she is at now alone.

cba Wed 27-Aug-08 17:11:21

swimming soo importants. ds1 7 has done his 400 metres, 16 length to you and me and can swim about 25 length none stop. ds2 5 can swim 25metres all unaided.

dd who is three is a real water baby

would not have been achieved without swim lessons and regular attendance at the pool with me.

I am really proud of my kids ability in the water and always receive comments about them

moondog Wed 27-Aug-08 17:12:54

That's nonsense Majeika.
I'm v good swimmer but have never given them lesson in my life. Enjoying it and feeling confident mean it will come naturally.

thebecster Wed 27-Aug-08 17:14:06

I think taking them yourselves is an essential addition to taking them for lessons - they don't replace each other. Lessons are important as many people are lousy at swimming and so it's better for your kids not to learn your mistakes. And swimming teaching has moved on a long way since we all learned to swim.

So you take them for lessons, they have 20 minutes in the pool. You take them yourself the next day, and practice the skills they learnt in the lessons, and then have a splash about and a play. Then you take them a couple more times in the week before their next lesson. Then they go to their next lesson having made progress during the week.

Majeika Wed 27-Aug-08 17:17:10

I agree that splashing around will give them confidence but at the same time they need proper lessons to learn how to do glides and breathing and proper strokes.

I never had proper lessons and am a poor swimmer and feel that it is a skill that should be taught properly.

moondog Wed 27-Aug-08 17:19:00

Why would one not want to swim with one's children though?? I really don't get that. I soooo love swimming.I've swum with my kids every day this summer for about 5 hours.
(It wears 'em out too.)

thumbwitch Wed 27-Aug-08 17:20:33

agree with Majeika - when DS is old enough, he will have proper lessons as I am a fairly poor swimmer too and DH is not a good teacher.

McDreamy Wed 27-Aug-08 17:21:13

I don't see swimming lessons replacing time with my children in the pool. If anything it's increased the time. We swim nearly every day either in the sea, local pool or our pool. No doubt the constant exposure to swimming is why she has progressed so much. Can you tell I am a proud mummy? grin

Peachy Wed 27-Aug-08 17:22:56

I felt mine did, becuase we lived (then) betwen a canal and a docks, and I really worried about that.

Ohterwise though there is no reason they cannot learn with ypu- do Amazon have any books now? they used to- and if you're in the pool with them they'll be fine. DH and I loathe swimming which is one reason ds's went to classes (although ds1 refuses now)

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