Most parents want their children to learn how to swim. I’ve seen a lot of parents get frustrated that their kids don’t learn how to swim after being in a swim class or two. Honestly, the best way for kids to learn how to swim is being exposed to the water.

The more “water time” kids have the more they become comfortable and experiment with how to swim. Another factor to remember is the personality of your child. More adventurous kids are going to learn a lot faster than those who tend to take awhile to get comfortable in other circumstances.

Below, I listed out a natural progression of how kids learn how to swim. This is not necessarily the order all children will follow but it is a general idea. If you have the ability to work with your kids independently in the water, consider following these steps


  1. Get them having fun and being comfortable in the water. (see games below for ideas)
  2. Blowing bubbles and learning how to kick and use arms with a noodle or floaty.
  3. Floating on Back with assistance
  4. Comfortable dunking underwater and getting head completely wet
  5. Learning how to float on front with face in the water
  6. Swimming independently on front
  7. Floating on back independently and swimming on back

That being said, probably the hardest step for most children is step 1 (especially those who tend toward anxiety around the water). It’s really important to go at their pace and teach them that water is fun. Getting frustrated with them or forcing them is counter productive. The good news is the more they are in the water the more comfortable they will be. Here are a few ideas on how to have fun in the water.

1. Ring Around the Rosie - or their favorite song. Try and make it into a water version. Ring Around the Rosie for kids not wanting to go underwater yet, sing we all “pop up.” I do the Hokie Pokie a lot with my swim lessons too. Put your chin in, your lips in, your ears in, and your whole self in. And splash all about.

2. Play Motor Boat. The rhyme goes, “Motor boat, motor boat, go so slow. Motor boat, motor boat, go so fast. Motor boat, motor boat, step on the gas.” Encourage kicking for the rhyme and for “step on the gas” twist in a circle quickly so that get used to moving fast through the water.

3. Pick a favorite lullaby to sing to encourage floating on their back.

4. Trouble learning how to blow bubbles? Sing the Happy Birthday song and blow out the candle underwater. Or make it a game that they are talking to the fish because they speak in bubble. Add putting their ears in the water so they can hear the fish. Trying different approaches, works for different kids!

5. Rubber duckies or plastic boats are a fun way to encourage kids to move their arms. You can either have them using a noodle for this or you can hold around their waist.

Hope you have fun in the water with your kids! Comment if you have other tips or ideas. Feel free to ask any questions.