You asked

What should I look for in a swimming class?

Preschoolers are generally too young to take a ‘proper’ swimming class on their own. However, it’s never too early to start your child on a water orientation class, or even water play classes. These are classes that you and your child can take together, that will be fun, and get your child ready for swimming classes later on.

These are not classes for children on their own. Rather, they’re classes that are aimed at adults, to teach them how to look after children when in the water. They’ll teach you how to hold your child, how to get in and out of the pool safely, and how to be aware of dangers in and around the pool and other bodies of water.   By age 3, your child should be old enough to move to a supervised ‘shallow end’ group session.

Your doctor, your child’s preschool teacher and other parents should be able to advise you where to find a good swimming orientation class in your area. It’s wise to spend some time watching the class, before you sign up, and get a feel for the class, and what you will be learning.

Finding a class that runs from a well-heated pool is important, as getting into cold water can be a shock to your child (look for a venue which has an additional pool which is warmer that the normal ‘training’ pool that adults would use). You also want to find a class that’s relatively small – no more than about ten parent and child groups. That way, you can be sure of individual attention from the instructor. Of course, a qualified trainer is a must, and the class should be designed to give you and your child the confidence to graduate to proper swimming classes when he or she is old enough.

Do remember that taking part in a swim orientation class does not make your child a strong swimmer, and it will be a while before your child will be able to swim on his or her own.

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