How To Teach a 7-Year-Old To Swim


Teaching your 7-year-old how to swim can be a stressful challenge to undertake. This is a necessary thing to do, though, so it’s important to start as soon as possible.

How do you teach a 7-year-old to swim? You can always enroll your 7-year-old into swimming classes at the community pool. If you want to try to teach your child on your own, you can take them to a hotel pool nearby or buy an above ground one from Walmart. You need to teach them how to hold their breath, become comfortable in the water, and execute the strokes to get them swimming on their own. 

Any day near a pool can be stressful when you have an adventurous 7-year-old that doesn’t know how to swim.

It’s important to teach your 7-year-old how to swim to keep them safe and allow them the freedom to enjoy the water.

How to teach your child to swim is where the challenge comes in, but don’t worry because I have compiled all the information you will need. 

The Importance of Swimming

Swimming is an important skill for kids to learn because it can keep them safe. Bodies of water, whether it be a pool or lake, are always a part of our lives.

A summer day at the pool can become some of your child’s fondest memories with family and friends. Being able to assert control over the water can greatly change the life of your child. Plus it’s always fun to dive, swim, play, and exercise in the water!

My 6-year-old nephew goes crazy when he’s near water. The kid can’t get enough of it. The problem is that he’s overeager to get in the water, but he forgets that he doesn’t actually know how to swim fully on his own. 

Children will react very differently when getting ready to learn how to swim. Some will be more than eager to jump in over and over again and others will be too afraid to let go of you once you’re in the water. 

One of the easiest ways to teach your child how to swim is to sign them up for swim lessons in your local community. 

Your child is going to naturally decide when they’re ready to start learning how to swim independently. A lot of the time, kids are ready and able to learn how to swim anywhere between 1-3 years old.

However, your child can learn how to swim at any age. 

Make sure to properly gauge your child’s readiness and make sure it’s not you who’s not ready for them to swim. 

Putting Their Face in the Water

One of the biggest hurdles in teaching your 7-year-old to swim is getting them used to and comfortable putting their face in the water. It can be terrifying for some kids to allow their face to be submerged while needing to hold their breath.

Something that my sister did for my nephew was to try it out in the bath. He loved to have water poured over his head when he was a toddler, so it was easy for her to use that as a jumping off point with him.

Then she taught him how to “blow bubbles” out of his nose. 

The “blowing bubbles” technique is meant to allow him the freedom to put his head underwater while actively doing something to keep from breathing in water. Plus, bubbles are fun! 

Teaching your child to blow bubbles through their nose needs a demonstration and explanation. Tell your child to take a deep breath through their mouth and them blow air through their nose.

Demonstrate by taking your own deep breath and blowing out air hard enough so they can hear it moving. 

Have them practice in shallow water first to give them a sense of control over their surroundings. Make sure to do all of these exercises side-by-side with your child so they can see how un-scary it is and are able to witness, in real time, how it’s done. 

Holding Their Breath

There have been many people who swear by the ability to blow on your child’s face when they are young, and their natural reaction to suddenly hold their breath will emerge.

If your child is young enough, this may help them learn how to hold their breath naturally without having to hold their nose.

If your child isn’t reactive to that sort of technique, which most 7-year-olds may not be, you may need to teach your child to hold their nose. If at all possible, it’s better to teach your child to hold their breath without having to hold their nose.

This can give them more freedom in the water. 

The “blowing bubbles” technique is meant to teach your child to keep water out of their noses without the use of their hands. 

If holding their nose closed helps them feel more comfortable holding their breath then this can allow them that freedom to move on to the next step.

Holding their nose will especially help when they are trying to jump off the side of the pool.

Establishing Trust

When talking about “establishing trust”, I mean to say that your child needs to be comfortable and feel in-control in the water. 

Another huge roadblock on the way to independent swimming for a 7-year-old (and any age, really) is the conditioned fear of water or drowning.

Children frequently take cues from their parents and will develop a fear of water if you’re always freaking out when they go near it. 

Let your child know that nothing bad will happen. They shouldn’t be afraid of the water if they are careful and learn the rules. Learning to swim will become a lot easier if your child knows that they have control over whether they sink or swim. 

You have to make sure to school your reactions not to scare your child. If you always freak out when they get near water, or accidentally slip under water in the bath, then they will learn to be afraid of the water. 

Teaching them (calmly) the importance of safety, but make sure they know that water isn’t to be feared if they’re careful. It’s like teaching responsibility around other dangerous things.

We aren’t afraid to use the stove even though we know we could get burned if we’re not careful. 

If you have younger kids (younger than seven) that you’re preparing to teach then a bath time routine can really help get the ball rolling. The bathtub can be a great place to start teaching your child to like the water.

Allow them a lot of time to play, pour water on their head, and splash around. 

Sometimes bath time can be a stressful nighttime routine because you want to get your kid clean and in bed, but allowing a few extra minutes to play can help develop their love for the water. 

Another thing to consider about teaching your child to not fear water is to spend a lot of time in a pool. Having that familiarity with the water can help your child make a smooth transition into learning to swim. 

Jumping into the Pool

Putting the fun back into fundamentals is key to teaching a nervous child how to swim. Allowing them the freedom to jump or cannonball into the pool with your safe arms waiting can help them find fun and ease in jumping into the water

If you want them to be more independent, put a flotation device on your child that will allow them to float to the top free of help. Some children will be too nervous to jump without you nearby, so you can always move farther away as they become more comfortable. 

Always make sure to get a flotation device that won’t hold your kid under water if they fall forward. Look for one that is US Coast Guard approved that is more of a life vest than a Floaties.

Once your child has a good understanding of their relationship with the water and can more comfortably interact with it, they will become more curious and happy to learn how to conquer it. 

Mastering the Fundamentals

Whenever you learn something new, you immediately are required to know the very basics of the task before you are able to completely and confidently perform them. The same happens when you learn to swim.

Your 7-year-old will have most likely witnessed some swimming in their life. They will know the general idea behind kicking your feet and moving your arms to swim. 

After teaching them how to hold their breath and blow bubbles out of their nose, you will want them to know the importance of kicking.

Kicking your feet while swimming will not only propel your forward but will help you tread water and keep your head above it. This is also something that you can practice outside of the pool first. 

You can do it in the pool with a floating kickboard. Have your child put their chest on the board and show them how to move their feet up and down.

This is definitely a skill they want to have locked in their muscle memory because it is essential to the whole swimming thing. 

You also want to teach them how to move their arms before they get in the water. Proper form and movement will make the transition to swimming much easier. 

The mixture of moving their arms and kicking their legs will become natural soon enough, but it needs to be practiced a lot before they will feel confident performing both alone to keep afloat. 

Something else that will become important for your child to know is how to float on their back. The ability for your child to turn over and successfully float on their backs will be very helpful in times of fatigue or unexpected situations.

The significance of the floating is that their heads can easily stay above water will little effort. This is perfect for when they get tired or start to lose control. 

Children will feel more comfortable when they have a way to protect themselves instead of feeling completely out of control. 

This is an energy and life-saving skill to know. It is also something that isn’t hard to learn once your child trusts their own abilities. Teaching them will require you to keep your hands under their backs and show them that floating is almost natural for the body.

It can also help to demonstrate how you go from swimming to floating so they can witness the change. 

The Importance of Practice

Just like teaching any life skill, you want to practice swimming with your child outside of the water. What this may look like is showing them the proper strokes that they will need in the pool. 

Once these strokes become second nature, your child will be better equipped to use them when actually in the water.

A lot of children hold on to one particular style of swimming or a certain stroke as they actually learn to swim, but it’s important to show a range to see what they’re most comfortable doing. 

These exercises outside of the pool will develop the foundation of their swimming abilities. Muscle memory is a very powerful tool and can show itself in more high-pressure situations such as learning how to swim. 

This is also a good time to help your child develop a good habit of holding their breath. Learning that particular skill in the pool at 7-years-old can result in a lot of swallowed pool water and sputtering. 

It can help to teach your child how to hold their breath when they feel safe and secure on dry land. This isn’t a perfect solution, so be prepared to reteach certain things once they enter the water. 

Holding your breath on land, when you know you can quickly grab emergency air, and holding your breath completely submerged by water are very different things. So prepare for a learning curve.

The good news is that the principles are identical, but your child needs to get used to the transition. It’s easier to explain the practice in the water after they’ve learned about it (and mastered it) on land. 

Make Swimming Fun

Once your child has down the very basic elements of swimming, like holding their breath and kicking their legs, you can start to incorporate fun games to get your child used to swimming around solo. 

It’s also easier to keep the attention of your 7-year-old if you keep it fun. One way to do this is to switch up the exercises regularly. You may start out with practicing their kicks with a pool noodle or kickboard.

Then you can throw in some fun diving games that allow your child to retrieve items from the bottom of a shallow area of the pool. 

Kids seem to go nuts over going under water, and the more games you incorporate into their lessons, the more results you’ll see. The great thing about pool games is that your kid is learning and growing stronger even though they don’t know it. 

Constantly playing games that have them diving to the bottom of the pool can increase their abilities to hold their breath, kick their legs, and swim back to the surface.

You’ll always want to be close by just in case, but your child will benefit from the games. 

Jumping into the pool is also something that kids go crazy for. Teach your 7-year-old how to do a pencil jump, dive correctly, or do a fun cannonball.

Getting in and out of the pool is also good practice for your child, so the game is extremely beneficial. 

Don’t Want to Pay for Lessons

It’s not necessary to pay for swim classes for your child if you have the time and patience to teach them yourself. It’s easy to gain access to the community pool, a local hotel pool, or purchase your own pool to teach your child the basics. 

If you want the training to take place at home, you may want to consider investing in an above ground pool from Walmart or Amazon. These pools can be as expensive or cheap as you want them to be. 

Having your own pool can eliminate travel and time factors, but it isn’t the only solution to not paying for swim classes weekly.

It’s just as easy to set aside time to take your child to a nearby pool that allows free access.

Parental Response

When your child starts to panic during teaching, make sure to stay calm and reassuring. It’s important that they feel safe and know you are confident in the situation and their abilities.

It is easier for kids to try new things, like going underwater, when they know that their parents are right there to help them if things go wrong.

Eventually your child will feel more and more confident in their abilities and be able to do things without you nearby. 

This confidence in their abilities may also lead to overconfidence in general. This means that it’s important to take extra precautions when around pools or with your own pool.

Have a gate around your pool or an alarm on your door that keeps your child out or alerts you if they go outside. 

Your child may think that they are able to swim alone or be around a pool safely on their own once they start to learn how to swim. It’s important to set rules and safety guidelines to keep your child away from dangerous situations. 

CPR Training

No matter what the situation, it is never a bad idea to learn how to perform child (and adult) CPR. This isn’t a skill we ever want to use, but it’s definitely something you’ll be glad you had on your belt if something ever happens. 

Having this knowledge can also help relax you, as the parent, when teaching your child how to swim. Constant worry that they will drown or hurt themselves is what keeps parents from taking the leap into letting your child free in the water. 

This is a natural and healthy response! However, it can be counter-productive when you want your child to start swimming.

Knowing how to do CPR can help calm your nerves and help you take back hold of the situation. 

Related Questions

What age can a child swim independently? Children can start learning how to swim independently anywhere from 1-3 years old depending on their personal readiness.

It may take some time to teach them how to hold their breath and move their arms but after a year of careful teaching, your child could happily swim independently. 

How long does it take for a 7-year-old to learn to swim? Seven-year-olds can take anywhere from a few months to a full year to learn how to swim completely on their own. 

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