Works-For-Me Wednesday – Floating on Their Backs





Floating on Their Backs

(Swimming Lessons)



I taught swimming lessons for years in high school and college so I have a few tips for teaching kids how to float on their back. 

For beginners who aren’t comfortable in the water:

1.  Have them float on their back with their heads resting on your shoulder, like they are sleeping on a pillow.  When you have them there, point something out to them up in the air.  For example:  “Do you see that cloud up there?  It looks like a bird” or “How many clouds do you see?  Can you count them?”   This helps get their mind off being on their back. 


For kids who are more comfortable in the water, have them do this while they are on their back:

1.  Tell them to put their head back and to push their stomachs up to the sky (so their backs are arched).

2.  If their feet are sinking, it helps to have them put their hands above their heads.  This changes their center of gravity.

3.  If they are doing all of this and still can’t float, have them take a big, deep breath and hold it. 

Note:  Make sure you keep a hand under their back until they get close to mastering the skill.  At that point, you can tell them that you’re going to move your hand away.     


Good luck!  I hope some of these tips help you and your kids.  They always worked for me. 

Please head to Rocks in My Dryer for more helpful tips.



Filed under works-for-me wednesday

10 responses to “Works-For-Me Wednesday – Floating on Their Backs

  1. Love this tip! My four-year-old is terrified of putting her eyes (and ears!) in the water. I’ll try the shoulder tip the next time we head to the beach. Thanks so much.

  2. That’s great, I’m going to try it out on my daughter tomorrow.

  3. Is it possible that some people just can’t float? I’ve never been able to. Someone told me it’s because I don’t have enough body fat. I try filling my lungs and everything, I just sink like a stone.

  4. kcjayhawk

    that has to be true. my brother was all muscle and no fat and he could never float. i wish i had that problem :)

  5. We’re currently working on this, thanks for the tips! Our biggest problem seems to be the “still” part!

  6. backpacktwang

    The head on the shoulder thing and the pointing to clouds thing really sort of work!!!

  7. I’ll definitely be trying these with Bennett…Luke does OK for the most part. If we ever get to the pool, that is.

  8. That is a great idea! I can’t get the floaties off my 4-y-o, but maybe I can ease him off…

  9. Great info! I’m just starting out with my little swimmer, so I’ll keep this in mind!

  10. Kristin

    Here’s one more tip from another former swimming teacher: keep your hand under the child’s neck, or even cup their head in your hands. Eventually just fingers behind their head, rather than under their backs. Wherever you offer support is where they will try to push down… you don’t want them to push their back down.

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