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Why is parental involvement important in swimming lessons?

Baby and Toddler swimming lessons often recommend that parents stay in the water and participate in their child’s lesson. WorldWideSwimSchool is a huge believer in parents staying involved in the learning process until the age of 4. This article will discuss the many reasons that we believe in parental involvement in the learn to swim process. Of course we understand that every swim school, family and individual situation is different but our philosophy remains the same for teaching swimming to children under the age of 4 years.

Maximum Practice Time

Parents in the water with their children increase the time that each swimmer is able to participate in activities within the lesson increases. The one on one practice and support gives swimmers an opportunity to be constantly practicing and honing skills needed for great propulsion through the water. Parents can assist with keeping swimmers moving whether they are moving in a wave formation all together or in a circuit or circular formation where swimmers take it in turns. No matter how great an instructor is, there will always be more practice and movement with parent involvement in the water.

Physical Manipulation

Parents can place hands on their child and physically manipulate arms and legs to create great swimmers. Physical manipulation of kicking and paddling creates neuromuscular patterns between the brain and the muscles. The more a child can receive physical reinforcement the better their skills will become. Parents should ensure when manipulating that:

  • Paddles are focused on actions under the water – getting a good feel for the water will help a child move through the water effectively

  • Restrict the depth of the kicks so that the knees are bent just a little bit – too much bend in the knee will promote bicycle kicks or create a less effect kicking pattern

  • Paddle manipulation works better when done on the spot as opposed to hopping/moving through the water. Manipulate with swimmer on your knee and then send them on their way

  • Kicking manipulation is best done with a kickboard or on the ledge to stabilise swimmer and keep them on top of the water. If kicking manipulation happens in deeper water swimmer may get a fright or be unable to take a breath when needed.

Safe and Secure Environment

With parents offering 1 on 1 supervision within the lesson under the watchful eye of the instructor, swimmers safety is paramount. It is important that instructor and parent not only discuss but practice safety scenarios such as safety slide in the water from the side, climbing out independently if possible, turning back to safety, only swimming with parent supervision and more.

Parent and Child Bonding

In today’s busy society there aren’t many opportunities where parent and child can spend half an hour focused on each other! Technology, siblings, other activities and more take up most of the precious time in our daily lives. Swimming lessons offer parent and child a special bonding time where everything else is left outside the pool and the focus is on the swimming lesson.


Having parents in the water is a huge help in the disciplining of the class for the instructor. Many parents have different styles of parenting and disciplining their children. With parent participation in the water they can ensure that this discipline style continues throughout swimming lessons. It can be a difficult task to keep a group of young swimmers listening, sitting still waiting for their turn and on task! Parents can help instructors achieve that by assisting their child within the swimming lesson.

Having the parent in the water and participating in the swimming lesson doesn’t mean that the child ‘needs’ their help to swim. Of course they may be proficient in their skills to swim by themselves. Swimmers will have the opportunity to practice independent swimming throughout the lesson but by achieving the things discussed in this article parents, instructors and swimmers will work together to produce swimmers with excellent technique, a good feel for the water and a love for swimming and water safety.

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