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How long will it take your child to learn to swim?

28th February 2020

In this article we’re going to reveal how long it’s going to take your child to learn to swim – plus everything you can do to help speed the process along.

What does “knows how to swim” look like to us?

To us, a child knows how to swim when they reach Stage 7. At this point, they’ll be able to perform each of the four main strokes confidently, dive, and tread water – everything they need to know to be safely left unsupervised in the water.

How long will this take?

On average, it takes our students around six years to learn to swim at a Stage 7 level. They generally join us at age four or five and reach this level by the time they’re ten or eleven.

Of course, they’ll be doggy paddling within their first few lessons and swimming each of the four main strokes long before this point. This is just how long it tends to take until they’re confident enough of a swimmer to be able to be safely left unsupervised in a pool.

How to help your child learn to swim as fast as possible

There’s plenty you can do to make sure your child learns to swim as fast as possible.

Here are our recommendations:

Give them consistency

In our experience, the biggest factor in how fast your child will learn to swim is how consistently they show up to lessons.

As a parent, it’s important you make sure your child has the same relationship to their swimming lessons as they do with school. That means that whether they want to go or not, they still have to (unless of course they’re ill).

We design our lessons to be as enjoyable as possible, but kids are kids, and there are going to be weeks where yours would rather stay home and watch YouTube than come to their lesson.

But if you want them to learn this life skill as quickly as possible, showing up to every lesson should be non-negotiable.

Make sure they get as much pool time as possible

The longer your child spends in the pool, the quicker they’ll learn to swim.

More lessons are a sure-fire way to help them progress as fast as possible, although we don’t let our young students do more than two lessons a week. Any more than that and swimming can start feeling like a chore for them, which will be counterproductive in the long-run.

As a parent, one thing you can do to really help bring on your child’s swimming is to get them to the pool as often as you can, especially during the school holidays. Making swimming a regular part of their life is the best way to make sure they quickly improve at it.

Make sure their first times in the pool are good experiences

If you can’t swim or you’re not confident in the pool yourself, your child’s first swimming lessons can be nerve wracking.

However, your child will pick up how you’re feeling when they look over to you for encouragement. If you’re relaxed and positive, you’ll fill them with confidence. But if you’re nervous and on-edge, your child is likely to follow your lead.

We understand this is easier said than done, but the best advice we can give parents who are nervous about their children learning to swim is to put on a brave face for your child – no matter how nervous you are about them in the pool.

That’s because if their first few experiences of swimming are negative, it can hold their development back by months or even years.

Each of our instructors have taught hundreds of children to swim, and they’re experts at keeping your child safe and helping them feel confident and comfortable in the pool. Try your best to be positive and encouraging from the sidelines to help make your kid’s early experiences with swimming as good as possible.

Instill a growth mindset in your child

Swimming doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Our founder, Jonny, couldn’t swim a single length of backstroke when he was 11 years old. However, he went on to swim for Great Britain in the backstroke against Olympians like Michael Phelps.

He credits his parents and coaches teaching him to have a growth mindset as a big factor in what got him there.

When a child has a growth mindset, they believe that with enough hard work and perseverance they can learn any new skill or subject.

If they have a fixed mindset, on the other hand, they think that if they can’t do something now they’ll never be able to do it. If you ever catch your child saying things like “I’m just no good at that” or “I’ll never be able to do that”, it’s a sure sign of a fixed mindset.

As you can imagine, kids with a growth mindset learn every skill and subject much quicker than those with a fixed one – not just swimming.

Luckily, there’s a few things you can do to help encourage your child to have a growth mindset – all of which you learn about in psychologist Carol Dweck’s TED talk on developing a growth mindset.

The most important thing you can do to help your child develop a growth mindset is to avoid praising them for the results they achieve (“well done for getting to Stage 5”) and instead praising the effort they put in (“well done on trying so hard in your swimming lesson today – I could see how much you were pushing yourself”).

This will help your child internalise that hard work is more important than natural ability. This will not only help them learn to swim as fast as possible – it will also help in their schoolwork and beyond.

Remember that plateaus are part of learning any new skill

Learning any skill is never as simple as steadily getting better every week. Zoom out and you’ll see continuous progress, but week-by-week it might feel like your child’s development is stagnating or sometimes like they’re even going backwards.

This is especially common when they go through a big growth spurt, as it can take them a while to get used to their new bodies.

As a parent, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind and explain to your kid that things might not always click straight away. Remind them how far they’ve come and explain that if they stick at it they’ll eventually get to the next level.

Keep these five tips in mind and your child is sure to become a confident swimmer in no time.

And if you’re looking for swimming lessons in Sunderland for your child, book your first lesson with Swim City today.

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