How To Swim For Kids

As a parent or carer, you need to know how to swim for kids.  Learning how to swim is high on everyone's list of life skills, and learning as a child is absolutely the best time. 

Most kids have little or no fear when it comes to water, so teaching them how to be safe and confident is extremely important.  

The Swimming Teacher's Approach To How To Swim For Kids

The best swimming teachers approach teaching kids to swim in a methodical way, teaching them the essential basics like breathing, submering and floating along with the obvious movements like leg kicks and arm pulls. 

When it comes to how to swim, for kids, they must get used to the following:

  • moving around in the water
  • breathing
  • floating
  • submerging
  • gliding

If your child finds any of the above skills difficult, then try allowing them to play and bring some games into their play that incorporate some of these skills. 

how to swim for kids

Enjoyment is the key to successful learning!

The best kind of learning happens when an activity is fun.  Fun leads to enjoyment and enjoyment leads to progress.  If a child is having fun in the water, then it is essential to keep the momentum of enjoyment going.  

Use some of the following games to keep your child happy and engaged.

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Moving around in the water


Skill: moving around in the water

Aim: to increase confidence by moving around the pool in different directions.

Equipment: floating toys

Place a ball or similar floating object a distance from your child and have them fetch it.  You can role-play them being a dog and you being their owner and have them go ‘fetch!’ on your command.  They then walk, run or move through the water however they wish to collect the object and return it to you.  They can use their arms and hands to help balance and move faster. Consider the distance they have to travel to retrieve the object and ensure that it is achievable without them but challenging without them becoming despondent.

Key phrases: ‘use long strides’ ‘use your arms to go faster’ ‘reach for it’

Progression: use multiple objects and have your child collect them in a particular order or within a specific time. Have them collect the object using only a few steps or strides.


Name That Sound

Skill: breathing

Aim: to learn a basic breathing technique and gain confidence in breathing into the water.

Equipment: none

This game uses a trickle breathing technique (exhaling in a controlled way through the mouth) and can be played in any water depth. You and your child take turns blowing out into the water for this game. You can blow out slowly, with force or in any other imaginative way that creates an unusual sound. The idea is to have a particular sound in mind, and they must guess what the sound is, for example, a speed boat, an animal or a machine. Take turns guessing each other’s sounds. 

Key phrases: ‘take a deep breath in’ ‘blow across the surface’ ‘let the bubbles tickle your nose’ 

Progression: allow the nose to submerge as they blow and progress onto the eyes if confidence allows. 

how to swim for kids learning to breath



Skill: floating

Aim: to get used to moving around the pool without touching or standing on the pool floor.

Equipment: pool noodle/woggle

Your child plays this game in an upright vertical position with a pool noodle between their legs (like riding a bicycle). One end of the noodle comes up in front of them, while the other is behind them like a tail. Without touching the pool floor, they use their legs in a cycling-type action to move around the pool like a seahorse.

Key phrases: ‘use your legs to move around the pool’ ‘feel the water around you’

Progression: using arms to paddle and blowing bubbles at the surface of the water.


Lucky Dip

Skill: submerging

Aim: to gain confidence in holding the breath and submerging the face.

Equipment: a selection of toys

To play this game, you will need a selection of small toys. They do not have to be sinkers, but they have to be small enough for you to be able to hold three or four of them in your hands under the water. Your child is then encouraged to hold their breath, reach down and take one out of your hand. This is an excellent game for children anxious about submerging their faces. You can help by adjusting the level at which you hold the toys. You can hold them depending on their confidence level, so they only have to dip their mouth or mouth and nose. Gradually increase the depth as their confidence grows. 

Key phrases: ‘relax and take your time’ ‘reach down and see what you can find’ ‘take a deep breath, hold it all in’

Progression: have your child take more than one object or have objects in both hands and place them far apart. 


Superhero Glides

Skill: gliding and standing

Aim: to develop a streamlined body position and regain a standing position.

Equipment: none

This game is similar to ‘Torpedo’, but with regaining a standing position at the end of the glide. The game is best played in water of standing depth and tests how far your child can stretch and glide across the surface of the water. Your child has to pretend that they are their favourite superhero or character. They push away from the poolside like a superhero flying through the air. As their glide slows and stops, they come to land by pulling down with their arms, bending their knees upwards and placing their feet on the pool floor.  

Key phrases: ‘stretch out’ ‘make your body long and thin’ ‘pull down with your arms to stand up’

Progression: have your child roll onto their back as the glide slows, and then stand up from a supine (on the back) position. 

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60 games that use the power of play embed basic swimming skills and make your child a happy and confident swimmer.


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Teach Your Kid To Swim

For more indepth details on each of the essential how to swim for kids basics, click here.