How old is “old enough” to let your kids swim without you? Whether you are at a hotel and the kids want to go down to the pool by themselves or they want to swim alone in the backyard while you’re inside, it’s a common question parents ask.
Like many things in swimming (and parenting) there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether you should let your kids swim without you by their side.
1. Swimming Ability
How good of a swimmer is your child? Are they on a swim team and know strokes and proper floating techniques? Do you feel confident they can tread water, swim underwater and move from deep to shallow water if necessary? Remember, until swimmers reach at least a Sea Otter level in our program, they are still learning the basics of swimming, which can take time.
2. Child’s Maturity
Some parents start leaving their kids home alone earlier than others and it’s often based upon the child’s maturity level. A child who listens to you and other authority figures most of the time, does well in school, and is overall responsible is more likely to follow pool rules and focus on water safety if left without a parent in the water.
3. Type of water
A hotel pool is a lot different than the ocean. Natural bodies of water may have slippery rocks, unexpected drop offs and sea creatures that make it more dangerous than a clean, man made pool.
4. Facility rules
No matter what age your children are, if they are still legally children, check the facility rules. Some pools require that an adult be supervising at all times. Other facilities may have a lifeguard on duty and will be okay if kids are without adults as long as they can swim on their own.
5. Number of swimmers
The more children there are in the water, the higher the chances of kids getting distracted. Roughhousing, accidents, and even someone slipping under the water without anyone noticing could occur. Even responsible kids can get caught up in the excitement and forget about water safety.
6. Using a buddy system
No matter what age you deem appropriate to allow a child to swim alone, we recommend always using a buddy system in the water. In case there is an emergency, it is a good idea to have someone with you in the water to administer first aid or CPR if necessary, or call 911.