It could also save your life. Being able to swim is a way of preventing drowning or at least is the best way of reducing the risk of drowning in an accident.
However, even though a an adult is looking after a child, it is easy to be distracted even for a second, or the child may run off while playing and accidentally fall into a river, the sea, it could even be the swimming pool in your garden. If the child cannot swim, there is a very high chance of the accident becoming much more serious.
This is why children should be taught to swim as soon as possible. Children usually learn at around 3 or 4 years of age. At this age they are walking properly and their bodies and have developed in both motor ability and coordination, which allows them to perform all the movements required for them to be able to swim.
Earlier than this it is difficult for them to learn to swim as their motor coordination is insufficient, although it is good time for them to get used to the water and learn to float in it. Swimming classes are available for babies from 3 months of age (you have to accompany them in the water).
The only disadvantage of small babies learning to swim is otitis. It is nothing to really worry about, but if you are in any doubt seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Of course you can teach your children to swim yourself, but we would recommend a course designed for children, with coaches specialized in teaching children to swim. Apart from the teachers having lots of experience, seeing other children in the water often encourages children to get involved.
Be aware that all children don’t take to the water in the same way. Some of them are really frightened of the water. In these situations it is best not to force them, but to do it little by little.
If they see other people in the water, particularly children swimming and playing it can make it much easier to convince them to get in. If you stay with them to support them, they will eventually start to lose their fear.
Don’t be in too much of a hurry; it takes a while for children to learn how to swim. First of all they have to lose their fear of the water then learn how to balance, float, breathe and move around, which doesn’t happen overnight.
There are also teaching aids available to help them to float as they get used to the water, such as armbands, boards, floats etc.
One way or another children end up learning to swim, which is not only for their safety but also for their enjoyment. Remember, even though they have learnt to swim, they should never be left on their own when in the water. Better to be safe than sorry.