Engaging 2 year olds in swimming lessons

Working with 2 year olds can be challenging. They are increasingly independent in their day to day life as they navigate activities and tasks and explore their surroundings. They can be strong willed and know their own mind. Often 2 year olds will be easily distracted or totally focused on their favourite activity. Being aware of these characteristics can help you in your swimming lessons as you plan your class strategies and swimming programs. While teaching a 2 year old to swim can present challenges, it is not without fun or reward. If you tackle it correctly, it will feel more like fun and play time than a job. Here are a few tips to help you engage the 2 year olds in your swimming lessons:

  1. Change activities frequently. Using a wide range of activities can help keep swimmers interested in the task at hand.   For swimmers who are easily distracted or get bored quickly, changing activities often is a great tactic. It is important to revisit activities to ensure swimmers are given enough time to practice and in-turn learn the swimming skills they are working on. Circuits are a great way to incorporate lots of activities while still allowing for much needed repetition.
  2. Adapt to student led learning situations. This can be great for the toddler who is determined to do what they want, when they want. Swimmers may point in a direction or vocalise what activities they are interested in. By allowing this independent and exploratory type of learning, it can help you find out what your swimmers like and what motivates them in the water. This is particularly helpful for future planning allowing you to prepare swimming classes that will engage your students. Remember to guide activities so they still have purpose and focus on important swimming skills.
  3. Control your voice to add interest to the class. Varying the tone and volume of your voice can keep swimmers alert, interested and awaiting your instructions. Remember lessons will often be in swimming pools where there are other aquatic activities or classes going on at the same time. Keep instructions simple and gather the group close together if you are in a noisy environment.
  4. Communicate with parents and guardians. Tapping into the knowledge of those closest to your swimmers will enable you to find out their likes, dislikes and motivating factors much quicker. Some swimmers may take longer to warm up to new faces and swimming instructors than others. Knowing what motivates your students can help you build a bond fast and allow you to get to work on swimming skills right away.

Watch this footage of Laurie Lawrence and granddaughter Harper having fun while exploring the water in their swimming lesson together. Harper is striking out independently in the water, and is clear in what she wants to do and where she wants to swim. Laurie happily obliges and expertly guides the activities to ensure there is still learning value. They work on breath control, turning, swimming varied distances, and controlled propulsive skills in a short space of time.



How do you keep 2 year old swimmers interested and engaged? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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Laurie Lawrence


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