Structured Swim Classes for 4-Year-Old

Dear Naomi, My son is 4 and he attends group swimming lessons since he was 8 months old. He is obviously more interested in playing in the water versus the classes. But we don’t know how to teach him swimming skills. Is it okay that he spends 15-30 minutes with a teacher once a week and plenty of family swimming time with us? I feel guilty after reading your response on a similar topic about structured classes. Thanks.


Dear Parent,

No need to feel guilty. You always do the best you can and the best you know how. In addition, from what you say it seems to me that your child loves the water; so no harm done. He does not need to learn to swim at such a young age. You can ask the teacher to play with him, or you can stop the lessons and continue playing with him in the water, knowing that adding swimming strokes much later is easy and enjoyable. There is no rush. 

You want your child to be safe in the water when left alone. When young, you just never take your eyes off him when playing in water. You didn’t teach him to walk prematurely. You carried him. Do the same with swimming and his interest in swimming and in following instructions will show up right on time.

Many children who spend much time in the water learn to swim in the same way that they learn to walk. Playing in the shallow water and being carried around by parents, they eventually discover floating and moving in the water. Later they learn specific strokes from friends, family, or in lessons. 

However, not all children spend enough time in the water to figure out how to swim. If your child wants swim lessons, you can find a teacher who knows to provide the kind of water play that nurture the child ability to discover and be interested in swimming. Or wait a few years; till your son feels joy in following instructions and asks to have the lessons. Why spend years pushing when later the child can learn with so much ease and joy within a couple of lessons?

Warmly,  Naomi Aldort,


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