Early Childhood

Parental Perceptions of Toddler Aquatic Lessons

The primary objective of this research was to examine parental perceptions on the role of toddler swimming ability and pre-school swimming lessons in drowning prevention. Information on toddler water safety was sourced from parents (n = 882) whose 2-4-year-old toddlers were either attending early childhood centres (n = 327) or who were enrolled in swim schools (n = 555).

More swim school parents believed that: swimming was best taught at 2 years of age or less (42% v 29%); swimming lessons were the best way to prevent toddler drowning (57% v 47%); toddlers could learn to save themselves if they fell into water (43% v 33%); and that it was better to develop swimming ability rather than rely on adult supervision (35% v 30%).

Many parents have an overly optimistic view of the role of swimming ability and pre-school swimming lessons in drowning prevention. This was especially so for parents with toddlers enrolled in lessons.

Swim schools in particular need to counter parental misconceptions of the protective role of swimming and reiterate the importance of close adult supervision of toddlers around water.

Click on the link in the Resources panel (right) to read the complete research on the parental perceptions of toddler swim lessons and water safety.

Click on the link in the Resources panel (right) to read a WAI presentation: Toddler Water Safety: Do Big People Know Best?