A Nemo Swimming instructor praises a young boy during his swimming lesson while a man smiles in the background

What will your child learn in baby, toddler and pre-school swimming lessons?

As you can imagine, we are often asked what children will learn in baby swimming, toddler swimming and pre-school swimming lessons. In this blog, we answer this question and explain some of the things that might affect your child’s progress in their lessons as they grow.

Developmental milestones and swimming

We can’t speak for other swim schools, of course, but here at Nemo Swimming, our swimming lesson plans are carefully crafted around the milestones that children are working towards at each stage of their development. We take into account what is happening outside of the pool and apply this in the water.

For example, we know that when our little Nemos start nursery it’s not unusual for them to be a bit clingier than usual in the lessons – so we might dial things back a bit to allow them time to adjust. 

As they become more independent out of the pool – when they start crawling or even walking – we sometimes see changes in the water too. Your child, who is getting used to doing things for themselves out of the water craves that same independence in the pool. At the same time, though, they recognise that they need your support and this can lead to a bit of ‘push and pull’ in the water – and can often coincide with the start of the water wobbles (all perfectly normal and just a phase, we promise!).

The development of the fine and gross motor skills, balance and coordination, strength, communication and listening also impacts their performance in the pool. As they get older, you’ll notice them react differently to stimuli in the water. As an example, in our baby swimming lessons you’ll notice that we use toys – often balls – in our lessons. We encourage our little Nemos to try and reach out and grab these toys as they move through the water with your support – this encourages them to start using their arms for balance and promotes a flatter body position which will become really useful as their progress through their learn to swim journey. Depending on their age, they may not quite have the coordination or motor skills to grab those toys. What you will notice, though, is that they will track the toy with their eyes and, before you know it, they will start reaching out for it too.

What happens in a baby swimming lesson?

Our baby swimming lessons are all about parent-baby bonding. They offer a fun and relaxing environment for you to take your first paddles together, and to create magical memories that you can cherish for years to come. 

In these lessons, we use loads of songs, fun activities and games to help build your baby’s confidence in the water, and also to teach them valuable water safety skills.

So, what exactly is it that your baby will learn in these baby swimming lessons? Let’s take a look!

0-6 months

This first step in our baby learn to swim programme is all about parent and baby bonding. We also start to teach you and your little Nemo important water safety skills and help to develop your baby’s motor, balance and social skills. We build further on these skills as your baby moves through the Nemo Swimming Journey.

6-9 months

We introduce different holds to bring your little Nemo into the water and work on ‘holding on’ skills – an important water safety skill and the first step in learning how to climb out. We also start to introduce underwater swims (these are, of course, optional and there will be options available for those that aren’t quite ready for submersions).

9-12 months

We continue to build on important water safety skills, and introduce more learn to swim equipment – including toys to encourage your child to reach forwards and promote a nice flat body position that they will need later on in their learn to swim journey.

12-15 months

We start using more floatation aids to help children to experience a fuller movement through the water. Swimmers will also learn to control their breathing and will master the skill of climbing out of the pool – really important for water safety.

15-18 months

This is the last step in the Nemo Babies chapter of our learn to swim programme. Your little Nemo will learn how to enter the pool on their own and will be working on their balancing and coordination skills using the wobble board.

What about toddler swimming lessons?

As with our baby swimming lessons, our toddler swimming classes make use of songs, games and fun activities to teach children water safety skills and to improve their confidence in the water. These classes also see your toddler start to make that big and very exciting transition from moving around the pool with your support to taking their first, independent paddles with the help of a floatation aid.

So, let’s take a look at what we learn in these toddler swimming classes…

18-21 months

In your child’s first term as a Nemo Toddler, we work on rotation, floatation and propulsion skills. We also help your little Nemo to put together skills they have learned previously and repeat them.

21-24 months

Your toddler will learn some really important swimming and water safety skills at this age. We’ll also introduce arm movements, develop your child’s balancing skills, and work on more complex circuits.

24-27 months

Our instructors will help your toddler to become more confident and independent in the water. We’ll practise jumping into the pool safely, work on their balancing skills, and develop their understanding of big vs. little leg kicks.

27-30 months

We continue to develop your toddler’s breath control, and use learn to swim aids to encourage them to adopt a more effective swimming position.

30-33 months

At this age, your toddler will be spending more time moving around the pool without you and we will introduce some new and exciting swimming aids to help them swim independently. We also practise breathing, kicking and balancing skills.

33-36 months

Our focus at this age is preparing your child for Nemo Pre-school swimming classes. We help them become more confident and comfortable following instructions from their swimming teacher. We also work on floatation and diving (rocket) skills.

Moving on to pre-school swimming lessons

Our pre-school swimming lessons are really exciting! In these classes, your child will start coming into the water without you for the first time. They will be in a small class with two instructors in the pool with them. These instructors will use different floatation aids and loads of exciting games to get children moving around the pool independently. 

While in these pre-school swimming classes, children will work through the following ‘stages’: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green and Blue.

Nemo Pre-school (Red) classes – beginner

In these swimming classes, we help your child to build up their confidence in swimming independently. We teach them how to jump in and move around the pool on their own. We also develop your child’s aquatic breathing and floatation skills, as well as arm and leg movements.

Nemo Pre-school (Orange) classes – advanced beginner

Our Orange classes see your child start moving around the pool with fewer aids and support – a big and exciting step towards independent swimming. We also work on floatation and rotation skills and help children master their breath control. 

Nemo Pre-school (Yellow) classes – intermediate

Your child will start to swim on their front and their back for short distances without any support or aids. We do this mainly through the use of leg actions and work to refine those actions as the basis for all good strokes. We also work on body shape and position and build on rotation and jumping skills.

Nemo Pre-school (Green) classes – advanced intermediate

Your child will now be swimming independently and with a recognised stroke. In these classes, they will learn how to use tuck rolls to rotate from their front to the back… and back again. We also practise submerging and reaching to pick up objects from the pool floor.

Nemo Pre-school (Blue) classes – advanced

By this stage, your child can swim confidently on their front and their back, and are able to recognise different breathing techniques, arm strokes and leg actions. They also understand how to change parts of their body to manipulate balance and movement through the water. 

What happens next?

Once they start school and are able to join our Nemo Juniors or (if you’re in Newcastle or North Tyneside) SwimNE lessons, your child will start working towards stages 1-10. Here, they will start learning the different swimming strokes, refine their technique, and build up their strength and stamina in the water.

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