Preparing for your child’s first swim lesson

Preparing for your child’s first swim lesson

Joe Perez  /  May 29, 2014

Summer is fast approaching and swim lessons are on every parent’s list of priorities. For the seasoned swim school veterans prepping for swim lessons is much the same as last year, but for parents’ new to swim lessons and if this is their toddler’s for first lesson without mom or dad in the water, preparing for a successful first lesson can mean navigating unknown treacherous waters.

Here are some easy tips to follow that will ease you and your child into a life of aquatics:


Introduce your child to swimming through reading. Bring home children’s books on swimming lessons, water safety, and fun in the water. We suggest these swim school favorites:

Froggy Learns to Swim by Jonathan London and Frank Remkiewicz (Jun 1, 1997)
Children book: Cool in the Pool (Inspirational stories for kids) by Shirly R.L. and Anahit Aleksanyan (Aug 12, 2013)
Swimming Lessons with Stewie the Duck by Kim Leonard and Stew Leonard (May 15, 2005
Stewie the Duck Learns to Swim by Leonard/Shapiro (May 2002)

Shop for a new swim suit with your child. We suggest something UV protected, fun, brightly colored, and if appropriate, let your child choose so they have ownership. Built in or attached flotation devices are not recommended. For those still in potty training mode, have plenty of swim diapers on hand as well as a reusable diaper cover. Double protection is usually required at most pools.

Take them to the pool you have chosen (see Selecting a Swim Instructor and Best Swim School in the Bay Area) a day or two before their first lesson. Get them familiar with facility, water, and if available, their teacher. Try on the new swimsuit during open swim, get to know the changing rooms, and amenities of the facility to make things easier before and after the first swim lesson.


Eat right. Heavy foods like meat and cheese, and sugary cereals can make second appearance under the pressure of water. Keep the foods light, fruity, watery, and energy infused. Strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, veggies, PB&J, and apples are recommended as pre-swim prep foods.

Show up early. Arrive 15 minutes before your lesson to get situated and meet with your instructor or deck manager to help you find your spot.

Introductions. Introduce your child to the instructor if you haven’t met him/her earlier and your instructor should introduce your child to the other swimmer(s) in the lesson.

Step away from deck. Let the trained instructor take over. You have chosen a swim school with well trained instructors, and fully staffed with vigilant lifeguards and experienced supervisors to ensure a safe swim lesson environment. Take a seat on the benches in the facility and cheer your child on with huge smiles.

Post Party

Positive reinforcement.After the swim lesson, no matter the experience, have a towel, smile and reward ready for your swimmer. A dry warm towel to wrap into and an excited parent reinforces the positive of what they have done. A healthy snack or cool toy after their first lesson can help the whole experience end on a positive note.

Anticipate lesson 2, 3, 4, and many more. Many times it takes a few laps to get into a good groove with the lessons and instructor. Swim lessons are better the second time around! Your swimmer will develop a rapport with the instructor and other students, the pool will be more familiar, and comfort levels will rise like the tide.