Starting Swimming Lessons For My 4 Year Old With Turtle Tots

3 images of a child and Mum having swimming lessons

Swimming has always been an activity that I have done with my children from an early age. It is something we all love and I’ve always thought it is very important to teach them about water safety from the word go. However, when Jake was younger I wasn’t in the position to be able to afford swimming lessons and as we went to a pool once a week I believed I could help him to swim on my own.

He has always adored swimming but his confidence has never built to the point that he could feel he could let us go. He can swim happily with aids (armbands and a vest) but remove these and he just panics. He will confidently jump in if he knows someone will catch him but he would never jump if there was a risk of going under. I thought these issues would begin to pass as he got older but unfortunately, they haven’t and I began to get concerned that he could get into trouble if we took our eyes off of him for a second in the future.

If you have been following my blog, you will know that myself and William became brand ambassadors for Turtle Tots earlier in the year which involved completing the baby course and documenting his progress. I was amazed at how William took to the water, at how going under didn’t faze him and how much we both enjoyed every single lesson. It began to dawn on me that Jake had missed out and I started to feel guilty. Yes, he loved to swim but he didn’t have the skills that William was already developing at just 8 months old. 

baby in a swim class going for a fish


So, when it came to the start of the new term I knew I had to enrol him too. But as he had never had any swim training at all he needed to go back to basics. Luckily, Turtle Tots can accommodate for all levels of learning and after a quick chat about the level he was at I was advised to book him on to the toddler induction class. As the name states, it is a class for younger children but Jake being Jake never lets anything get in his way and he loves smaller children so their ages didn’t bother him at all. They were all at the same sort of level which was the most important factor.

Jake jumping into my arms in the pool


The lessons take the same approach as William’s have done– fun is at the heart of the learning.

Each child is spoken to directly, each child is asked questions about their day, they are involved from the start and they are never made to leave their comfort zone. The lessons are tailored to make the child feel confident whilst in the water and this stems from having laughs, playing games and involving them in activities that will get them swimming without realising that’s what they are learning to do.

mum and child in a swimming pool


For instance, the introduction of front crawl begins with ‘tiger arms’. The children have to creep the water like a tiger with their arms whilst either being held by a parent or whilst using a woggle. The use of toys helps them to aim for something and encouraging them to reach out to them helps the child to understand that they need to stretch their arms to get themselves somewhere. All without once saying this is front crawl, this is how you do it, get on and do it and so on. They are having fun yet subconsciously learning.


Other tools include the use of balls, singing, jumping in from the side, learning how to enter and exit the pool safely and playing on a float. The half-hour lesson flies by and we all have so much fun. What I really love now is that we are all getting to know one another and when a child achieves something we all cheer and say well done and are genuinely encouraging of their progress. 


mum and child in pool. Child is holding a ball


He has now completed the first term and is loving the next class up. He is such an eager beaver when Friday afternoons come around. He knows the drill, he actually shakes with excitement before he gets in and he is even becoming a bit of a pain to get to leave!

mum and child in pool holding certificate


I cannot recommend Turtle Tots enough, it is just what Jake needed to get him started and to help build his confidence. I don’t think he realises how far he’s come and yes, he still has a long way to go but he is getting it, he is trying his best and I can’t wait to see the day when he lets go of me and just swims all on his own. 

We are learning to swim with Turtle Tots Surrey and North Hampshire. If you would like to get in contact with them you can do so via their Facebook Page.

For further information on Turtle Tots and all of the swimming lessons they offer please check out their website.


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