Timing Is Everything: Understanding Childhood Developmental Stages

By January 7, 2016Blog


Children grow fast and at their own pace.  Some kids always seem ready to tackle the next challenge, while others may prefer to perfect their skills before branching out.  Even though each child is unique, there are some general developmental stages that most young children experience at approximately the same time.  We use detailed research and years of experience when developing our childhood swim lesson plans, and as we meet each child, we tailor the activities and pace to their specific goals and abilities.

Babies from 6 to 12 Months

Generally speaking, young babies love to be in the water.  They are still close to the fluid environment of the womb, and they often have a sense of fearlessness.  Additionally, they are not yet claiming a sense of independence and will often be happy accompanying their parents wherever mom or dad wants to take them.  For most children in this age group, swim lessons mark the first educational experience outside the home, so it is important to choose lessons specifically tailored for babies to ensure a positive experience.

In the pool – Babies up to nine months tend to splash and wriggle in the water, showing the whole body undulation of a dolphin or the frog-like reflex to kick.  At some point between six and twelve months, the babies begin to lose that reflex and begin to experiment with the gliding between kicks.   Babies in this age range tend to be comfortable with small amounts of water dripping over their faces without being afraid.

Toddlers from 1 to 3 Years

As babies enter into the toddler years, they begin to develop a sense of independence and of fear. The immense amount of personal development that happens during these years makes it challenging to identify consistent temperament traits, but children at this period value fun, develop a sense of humor, begin to understand basic games, and need stimulation to keep them on track.  Therefore, it becomes increasingly important to appeal to this age group’s sense of play by incorporating games and utilizing toy manipulation to teach swim skills.

In the pool – In this age group, children develop sturdy legs, an evolved kick, and increased coordination.  Their earlier reflex to kick is now being replaced by a learned kick.  Their increasing awareness of others makes this an ideal time period to take group lessons, as this is the period when children are regularly mimicking others.

Children from 3 to 4 Years

As toddlers transition into young children, they embrace their unique personalities, become highly verbal, and cultivate their vivid imaginations.  They have developed personal likes and dislikes, and they generally have a range of experiences with water, which may prove to be helpful or a hindrance for learning to swim.

In the pool – At this age, children develop significantly more strength, coordination, and physical sturdiness.  Their increased ability to focus allows them to follow simple directions and link several skills together.  In these years, children love to show others what they can do, so peer learning through group lessons is ideal.  While individuals in this age group often have fear hurdles to overcome, they tend to demonstrate great competency once they do.

Talk With The Experts

Premier Aquatic Services swim instructors use an exciting approach to help swimmers of all ages develop a love of the water. Our instructors are experienced with teaching all levels, whether it be helping beginners to be more comfortable in the water or training more experienced competitors on how to improve their stroke technique.

To learn more about our swim lesson programs and register your child for winter classes in our heated pool, visit our aquatic services page.

Is your baby under 6 months old?  To introduce your baby to the joy of the water, Premier Aquatics offers new parents an introductory free “Parent and Me” class.  Call our offices at 949-716-3333 to schedule your baby’s first swim lesson.

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