When teaching one-on-one swimming lessons with children, it is important to keep the kids engaged and the activities interactive. With short attention spans and lots to learn in only 30 minutes, it is important to keep the lesson fun and interesting. One of the best ways to do this is to turn the skills you are teaching them into a game! There are several games, tips, and tricks you can find if you search the internet, but here are a few that I have found to work really well. These water-fun games and activities are a great way to get your child to fall in love with swimming!
Red Light, Green Light
This is a great game to play for teaching kids how to kick their legs in the water. I often use it as a “warm-up” or the first thing we do before they get in the pool. To start, have them sit on the edge of the pool with their feet in the water. When you say green light, the kids should kick as hard as they can. Then when you say red light, they stop their kicking. This game also sets the boundaries for a great instructor-child relationship and helps improve listening skills.
Talk To the Fish/Blow Out the Candle
Either of these are a great option for kids to learn how to blow bubbles in the water. To start, tell kids to pretend they are blowing out their birthday candle and then blow it out with their lips in the water. As their confidence builds and they begin going underwater, tell them to talk to the fish and then tell you what they said when they come back above the water. Kids love to use their imaginations and tell the fish their stories!
Teaching children how to float on their back and front can be a more difficult skill for some. In addition, teaching them the skill of rolling over can be a challenge. Through teaching a diverse group of kids, these are two ways I have found that work great! Telling them to hold a starfish pose on their back, being flat in the water, arms and legs wide, helps them to understand how they should feel in the water while floating. To teach them how to flip over from their back to their belly, I tell them to pretend they are a pancake and I sing the “Pancake Song.” The Pancake Song goes as follows: I’m a little pancake on my back, flip me over just like that! Kids love to pretend they are a pancake and then when you say ‘flip’, you flip them over onto their belly. They then learn how to roll over and be in the same starfish pose they did on their back, only now they are on their tummy.
Both of these are awesome ways for kids to learn how to swim deeper or even to the bottom of the pool. They love to show how they can get things from the bottom and bring them back up. Even better, if you have different color rings, let them pick how many and what colors they would like to retrieve. Kids are more engaged and participative if you let them be a part of the decision-making process. Using different coins is another great idea, as they are always happy to find money at the bottom of the pool!
Teaching superhero glides is a fun way for children to understand what “streamlining” is in the water. They get to pick what kind of superhero they want to be, they show the instructor their “superhero” arms, and then they practice gliding across the water. Not only is it a fun way for them to understand the concept, but it also helps them to remember what it is because they are connecting the skill with something fun! As they progress as a swimmer, then I start to teach the real names of the skills. Repetition is important at a young age as they are learning many different skills at one time.
Ice Cream Scooping
I have found this to be the best way for kids to learn how to use their arms while swimming. Much like the superhero glides, it is an easy and fun way for kids to learn how to use their arms while swimming. They get to choose an ice cream flavor they are going to “scoop” for the day and then they practice taking big scoops of it in the water. It also helps to teach children to keep their fingers together so the water doesn’t go through their hands. I first teach it with them staying in one place and then I have them scoop their ice cream across the pool, always telling them that no one wants little scoops of ice cream, we only want big scoops!
Chop, Chop Timber
Every kid loves a good round of Chop, Chop, Timber when they are ready to jump in! Many children have a fear of jumping in the water. To make this skill enjoyable for them, we turn it into a game. The kids sit on the edge of the pool in a little seed on the ground. We give them water (splash them) and sunshine (make a sun with your arms) so they can grow into a big tree. They get to pick what type of tree they are and then we chop them down at their knees and they jump in. Some kids will start by holding both hands, one hand, or no hands. I always let them pick, but if I feel they are ready to progress as a “jumper”, I will have them try and jump by themselves.Sign Up for Swim Lessons!
Written by Taylor Thompson, Certified Personal Trainer & Nutritionist at Elite Sports Club – Brookfield
Taylor has a B.S. in Dietetics from UW-Stevens Point and is an American Council of Exercise (ACE) Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and Certified Zumba Instructor. She specializes in Nutrition & Weight Loss, Youth Training, Strength Training, and Kickboxing. Taylor enjoys dancing, traveling, cooking, and spending time with friends. She believes that you have to love yourself enough that you are willing to make changes and push yourself outside your comfort zone where big results can be achieved.