Preparing Your Child for Swim Lessons – by Sarah Barnett


Manassas Park Parks and Recreation Operations Manager Sarah BarnettIt may seem too early to start thinking about preparing your child for swimming this summer. However, now is the best time to start preparing them! Not wanting to enroll your child in swim lessons during the cold winter months is understandable. However, if your child is apprehensive about getting in the water and needs one-on-one time with an instructor, the winter months are the perfect time to enroll your child. Overall enrollment in swim lessons tends to decrease December through February, which means the chances of your child being in a full class are very low.  On average, there will be two to three children per class, allowing for more time with the instructor.

Bring a blow dryer and pajamas with you when you bring your child for swim lessons. Have them take a shower after lessons, dry their hair, get in their pajamas, and voila, they get to relax the rest of the evening. With daylight savings time, chances are it will be dark by the time an evening lesson is over, so they’ll be ready to relax a little before bed time. By the time the pools open in May, your child will be ready!

If taking swim lessons during the winter is not feasible, there are ways you can prepare your child at home for swim lessons that start in the spring or summer.  First, get your child a pair of goggles. Let them play with them in the bath, and encourage them to put their face in the water with the goggles on while blowing bubbles. These skills may take time, so don’t force your child and be patient. Most children feel safe in the bath since they can touch the bottom, so adding these pool skills while they are in a safe environment will help prepare them for the challenge of doing these skills in the pool.

In addition to working on these skills in the bathtub, try visiting the facility where you will enroll your child in swim lessons. Get in the pool with your child and try some of the skills. Don’t worry if your child won’t initially try the skills in the pool. Focus on playing and exploring the pool so that your child feels less anxiety on the first day of lessons. Not sure what to do with your child in the water? Check out these Youtube videos for ideas!

Learning to swim can be a scary and intimidating experience for children.  However, the earlier they are exposed to swimming, the easier they will learn. We have many great swim lesson offerings coming out in our Winter MOSAIC on November 15. Be sure to check them out and enroll before classes fill up!

Sarah Barnett is the Operations/Aquatics Supervisor for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703.335.8872 x1482 or via email at

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