Often in parent and child swimming lessons, young children will spend the majority of the lesson holding onto their parent, or being held by their parent.
If they are able to hold onto you during lessons, practice letting go of your child to see if they can support their own weight. Once they have mastered this skill, practice it on the side of the pool or on handrails together – your child holding the side, while you support their hips or legs. Gradually take away your support until they are doing this skill independently.
Once your child has the capability to grab the pool wall or handrail, advance the skill to increase their confidence.
When practicing this skill, remain close to your child so you can guide them back to the surface to hold the wall if they lose their grip. Encourage confident swimmers to experiment by letting go of their own accord, submerging and feeling the water push them back up to the surface where they can reach out and grab the side of the pool again.
If they are looking for even more of a challenge, hold your child in the water facing you and on the count of three, submerge your child and spin them around underwater toward the pool edge, before encouraging them to grab the pool side. This will also begin to teach them rotation in the water – a vital skill not only for survival, but also for more advanced skills, such as treading water, later on.
Always make sure you supervise your child closely around water and remain within reach to assist your child if they need it.