After getting your child comfortable enough in the water to put their face in the water while holding their breath, you can move on to the next step. Teaching your child how to float on top of the water is another important step to helping your child master movement in the water.
To teach a child to float takes caution and care to go at your child’s pace. You need to make sure they are totally trusting of you as you direct them to learn this skill. Make sure you stop immediately if your child is getting anxious. Definitely stop if your child is taking in water through their mouth or nose.
To start off, you may want to let your child lay on a floating aid like a pool mat to get used to the feeling of laying down with water around their body. The security of the mat will be a great place to start in giving confidence to your child. Make sure the mat is flat and not inflatable. That will make things as real for your child to get used to as possible.
Since you just started out teaching your child to hold their breath with their face in the water, a front float is probably easiest for them. To me, it doesn’t seem like that would be that case, but for your child it’s okay. They’ve just mastered the skill so it should be fresh in their memory. They will also have the advantage of feeling good about learning that new skill. A positive attitude goes a long way when trying to master something new.
Once the mat has outlived its usefulness (your child doesn’t think it’s a big thing anymore), you can ease into teaching them to stretch out and put their face in the water. You will need to focus all your attention on your child as you practice this. Make sure you are supporting your child correctly by placing your hands under their chest (palms up) with thumbs extend over their shoulders for babies. For older children let your child hold onto your shoulder while you hold their hips up.
Here’s a video of teaching your baby to float:
Here’s another video to show how you can teach your older child to float:
I have to admit, when I first taught my son to swim, I didn’t teach him how to float first. He and I were eager to see him swimming around the pool. He was progressing so well in his independent exploration that I didn’t want to disturb him (much like a sleeping baby). I ran the risk of frustrating him. I didn’t want to be the cause of him shutting down. He was getting pretty creative in the pool and figured out, basically for himself, how to move around in a way that best suited him. I felt that his creativity and enthusiasm should be rewarded with my staying out of his creative process.
Of course in hindsight, I see the need for teaching your child to float first before they learn how to move around in the pool
Safety - if they ever fall into a pool, they will know how to stay calm and not use up their energy and air
Mastery - your child feels confident knowing they are in control while in the water
Tomorrow we will talk about teaching your child to propel themselves forward by kicking in the water.
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