Lots of children and adults are excited and nervous before swimming so we have put together a few activities which you might like to try before you start your lessons with us. We have divided it up into different sections below:
- Activities for Younger Children to Learn Aquatic Skills
- Activities for Older Children and Adults to Learn Aquatic Skills
- Colouring Pages
- Suggested Books and Toys
All activities and suggestions are meant to help with your confidence in the water and encourage a love of swimming and the opportunities it can provide. That is why, like our lessons, it is important not to push too hard any swimmer and to let them move at their own pace.
Activities for Younger Children to Learn Aquatic Skills
This game is good for younger children who are very nervous getting their face wet. It is quick and easy to make. All you need is a couple of odd socks and a hairband or a bit of string – put one in the end of the other and put the hairband around it to tie it into place. Then cut from the other end of the sock upwards in strips to form eight tentacles. You now have an octopus. Now you can play with this octopus in the bath encouraging it to be held over the head and wiggled to drip water on the head.
You can even say our Octopus Rhyme –
I have a pet Octopus
He gives me a wash (Your child puts the Octopus in the water and wiggles it over their head)
He jumps in the water
And makes a splosh (splash the Octopus in the water)
I have a pet octopus
He lives in my bath
He tickles my tummy (the Octopus tickles their tummy)
And makes me laugh
Afterwards just let your child carry on playing with the Octopus in the water – and when finished with it, it can even sit on their head!
Once your child is comfortable with getting splashes on their head you can then increase the amount of water by putting into the bath some old plastic bottles and start making holes in the bottom to make stronger and stronger showers. Younger ones can say Incy Wincy Spider or It’s Raining It’s Pouring the Old Man is Snoring. They can then finish off playing with the bottles by tipping the other end over their head.
Five Little Speckled Frogs
Finally to get your child used to getting their face really wet you can introduce them to blowing bubbles in the water. Start off with a straw for them to blow bubbles in the water (emphasising that they must blow not suck the water!). Then cut the straw down to about a quarter of its’ size and get them to blow bubbles into the water with their face just above it. Explain to your child that that is what you do when your mouth is in the water and see if they are happy to try, starting with their mouth in the water and their nose just above the water , then both their mouth and nose in the water – When their face is under the water remind them that they should blow gently out through their nose and mouth and then lift their face and breathe in then just through the mouth. This is the start of Aquatic Breathing! You can then say the nursery rhyme Five Little Speckled Frogs and when it gets to the frogs jumping into the pool your child can put their face into the water.
The other skill a swimmer needs to gain confidence in the water is how to float which can also be learnt in the bath. Make the environment enticing for your child and put in some glow sticks and if you have some of those glow in the dark stars for the ceiling that would be good to add as well.
As long as you have a warm bathroom you can fill a bath up with just a few inches of water. Enough for a child to lie down in the bath so that they are touching the bottom with their ears in the water in the right position for their head. If they are happy you can then slowly add in a little more water so that their body, if lying on the surface of the water, would be floating an inch or two from the bottom. To keep their body and head in the right position they can rest their elbows on the bottom feeling themselves go up and down when they take in or let out long breaths.
Whether or not your child manages to float just let them lie back and enjoy the stars.
Activities for Older Children and Adults to Learn Aquatic Skills
If you are scared or find it uncomfortable putting your face under the water it is a good idea to start practising beforehand. The idea is to take it gently in a relaxed atmosphere.
Before you even need to put your face in the water you need to practice your breathing. When you put your face into the water you breathe out gently blowing bubbles through your mouth and nose, and when your face is out of the water you then need to breathe in but only through your mouth.
When you are ready to get your face wet remember that there is nothing to fear as you are the one in control. Start thinking of something that makes you happy and focus on it.
- You can start off in the shower so that your face is only getting lightly wet.
- Then you can either get a bowl of water ready or relax in the bath. Make sure the water is a comfortable heat but no bubbles. Then when you are focusing on your happy thought just aim to put your mouth under the water.
- Get to a point where you are happy with that before moving on to just putting your nose slightly in the water with your eyes still above (it might be the same time or you might feel like leaving it until another day).
- Last stage is to fully submerge your face so that your eyes are below.
Don’t worry if you don’t want to do this before swimming lessons, we won’t rush you.
Suggested Books and Toys
The two books Swim England suggests for pre-schoolers and young swimmers are Discovery Duckling and Lucy and Sammy Learn to Swim. Discovery Ducklings introduces us to the stages in the pre-school swimming and Lucy and Sammy introduces children to what to expect when they start swimming.
Of course there are numerous children’s books about swimming and we recommend you go on line and look further. The more you get your child involved with the idea of swimming the better.
One of the most popular books is Peppa Goes Swimming which you can either download on a Kindle or click on the book to see where to buy. It shows you some of the equipment your child will use in the pool and of course Peppa’s always happy.
Busy Swimming is an interactive board book. Children really can join in by pushing, pulling and turning the tabs to bring the water park to life. Help the children get changed into their swimming costumes, whizz down the water slide and race across the indoor pool.