Before You Begin
Before you begin teaching your child to swim there are several things you want to do. Marla Bolling is a swim instructor in St. Augustine, FL and has been teaching children to swim for 25 years. Here are a few things that she suggests:

1. Familiarize yourself with child CPR. You can do this in several ways. The best way to do this would be to register in a CPR course offered by the American Red Cross (a link can be found at the bottom of the page) Also, it is a good idea to have the instructions for how to do CPR posted somewhere in the swimming area. We always had this in my house when I was growing up and while Iím thankful we never had to use it but itís always a good idea to have it around.

2. Make sure your child is in good health.

3. Make sure you have sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen at least 16 minutes before getting in the water. This is especially important here in Florida. The more fair-skinned your child is the higher you want the SPF to be. Remember that if you are going to stay after swim lessons and play some more you should re-apply sunscreen.

4. Check the water temperature. It should be between 85-92 degrees.

5. Have a T-shirt at hand for your child in case the sun gets to be too much.

6. Have a towel and dry clothes for after the lesson.

7. Buy ear drops in order to prevent ear infections. (My mom always mixed alcohol and vinegar and we put that in our ears, Iíve never gotten an earache from swimming and Iíve been swimming for almost 20 years)

8. Keep the lessons short. Marla recommends 15-30 minute lessons for children 2-4 years old and 30-45 minute lessons for children 5 years old or older. Anything longer than this is too much and the child will not absorb all they learn.

9. Do NOT use floatation devices like water wings, etc. These give the child a false sense of security.

10. Eat one hour before entering the water. This gives the child energy and prevents cramps.

11. Finally, only let your child swim in a comfortable swim suit. This may sound silly but it teaches them that swimming fully clothed is not OK and they are less likely to jump in when they are unsupervised. Put the suit in a specific place in the childís room and make big deal of where it goes. Tell the child they can swim whenever they like but they must put on their swim suit first.


Once you have done all these things you and your child are ready to learn to swim!


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