Expectations of a 4-Year-Old in Swimming Lessons

What you can expect your 4-year-old child to learn in their swimming lesson?

Let’s break this down and look at some of the characteristics and developmental milestones your child may be achieving during this age group.


Social and Emotional Development

By now, most children are starting to show their own unique personality, some are shy, talkative, busy or even bossy.

  • They share and take turns and are more co-operative
  • They start telling tales to get out of trouble
  • They enjoy telling jokes that are funny to them
  • They may become bossy
  • They say or act out something they shouldn’t to see what your reaction will be
  • They like to play the same games over again


Social and Emotional Implications on the Swimming Lesson?

At 4 years of age your child is most likely swimming in a lesson without you. If this is the case, talk with your child about this in a positive manner. What you could consider:

  • Introduce your child to their teacher prior to their lesson
  • Turn up early so your child is ready to start his/her lesson on time
  • Watch your child swim and show praise through non-verbal communication
  • A great teacher will be interactive, compassionate and make the lesson fun and enjoyable

Don’t be discouraged if your child is hesitant to swim without you, be patient, stay positive and talk to your child’s teacher about options or strategies and collectively come up with a plan.


Physical Development

A 4-year-old is busy and always need to be doing something and at this stage most children:

  • Have improved co-ordination
  • Can roll and do summersaults
  • Can dress themselves with minimal help
  • Can draw simple pictures
  • Can ride a bike
  • Like to run, climb and play on playground equipment


Physical Implications on the Swimming Lesson?

  • Children at this age are starting to co-ordinate their arms and legs
  • Strength and distance have increased
  • Engaging lesson will keep your child focused

Swimming lessons can be very tiring for a young person and if your child isn’t well rested prior to lesson they may not give it their best swimming. Try not to over stimulate your child before their lesson as this may cause disruptions within the class.


Language Development

Most 4-year-olds are talking more than ever, asking lots of questions and their favourite word is “why”. Children at this age:

  • Tell silly stories and use words that may be inappropriate, but they find funny
  • Ask lots of questions-who, what, where, why?
  • Can follow more complex instructions
  • Can say their first and last name
  • An increased understanding of feelings.


A 4-year-old’s understanding of what is expected of them has improved and they should be able to follow simple instructions. Use language that is appropriate for this age group and relate it to something that they understand.


REMEMBER to be vigilant and provide a safe, fun learning environment at all times.


It’s important to remember children are different and progress at different rates. This is meant to be a guide only. If your child is ahead of this guide or not quite up to these activities be patient, teach to their likes, dislikes and abilities and enjoy the time you spend in the water with them. Swimming with your child at any age can be a great bonding experience.

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Leesa Langdon

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