When you look into whether you should use floats and aids when teaching a child to swim, there are many mixed reviews – some say they are necessary and others not.
We believe that using floats and aids plays an important role in teaching babies and children to swim. All our babies learn through repetitive teaching, consistency, word association, play and regular classes. We use songs, rhymes and actions to encourage movement, paddling and splashing. We also use a selection of different buoyancy aids to encourage independent floatation although these are only used for 10-15 minutes of the lesson.
Most of our toddlers can swim short distances by the age of 2 and have mastered vital skills including how to turn around and hold on and where possible, how to clamber out – critical safety skills should they ever fall into water.
The different types of floats and why we use them
These are solid foam swimming noodles which float extremely well and come in a variety of bright colours for children. They are one of the best personal flotation devices you can use to float in a vertical position. A swim noodle alone can keep a child in a vertical position with the head above the water without having to do any arm or leg motions.
Shark fins are worn high on the back of the child so that they will not tip forward. They are an excellent aid that gives children a safe and secure feeling when they are learning to swim and gives them maximum support when they are submerged or doing doggy paddle for instance. As the child improves their swimming then they become more horizontal which moves the fin out of the water indicating that they do not need it anymore.
These are great and lightweight and fantastic for improving balance and body position in the water. Using kickboards can improve leg strength and kick technique. We tend to use these aids from stage 2 of our swim programme.
We use floats during our swimming classes as a tool to build the child’s confidence. We believe that it is better for a young child to make a connection with the float as a buoyancy aid instead of relying on the swim coach. This way when the child is ready to swim without a float it is much easier to make the step.