If your child can front float independently for at least five seconds and back float unaided for at least fifteen seconds consistently, then she’s ready to learn how to roll and experiment with other ways of floating. Not there yet? Go to Help Your Child Learn How to Front Float or Back Float.
Going from horizontal to vertical
Make sure your child can stand up after floating.
From a front float, have her lift her head out of the water, forcing the arms down, bring her knees under her body then place her feet on the bottom and stand up.
Discover how hard it is to sink
It’s a lot of fun to try to sit on the bottom of the pool. Challenge your child to try it. She might get obsessed with this. It’s happened with a few of my students. Don’t discourage her; it’s a great learning opportunity.
She’ll discover that even if she wants to sink, it’s next to impossible. Her body will just float right back up to the surface. If she’s not already convinced that the water floats her, this will make her a believer.
Diving for objects
Diving for objects is a favorite activity among my students. After learning how hard it is to sink, your child will find this to be an enjoyable challenge.
Start by dropping a few sinkable objects, such as rings, torpedoes or treasure in two to three feet of water. Go deeper for bigger kids. It’s best to start with rings as they’re easier to grasp.
Let your child try to figure out how to get down far enough to reach for the object. After a few attempts, you can give her a little push towards the bottom, if she needs help. Eventually, she’ll figure it out.
To teach her how to get to the bottom: she will start in a front float, then bend forcefully at the waist, which will drive her hips up and her torso down, which will put her in reaching distance of the object.
To explain this in a way for her to understand, you might say, “kick your feet down” or “stick your bottom up in the air or up to the sky” after she’s in her front float.