In this video lesson, Swimming Instructor Phillip Toriello teaches how to teach a child the back float, starting by using the steps of the pool to get the child comfortable in a safe place.
Video Transcript: PHILLIP TORIELLO: "Hi, this is Phillip Toriello, and this is how to teach a child back float. This is my friend Kyle. (Hi) We gotta go like this, go Hi! (Hi!) All right. The first thing you want to do when working with a child in back float, is to really check to see how comfortable they are in the water. The place that I'd like to start when doing back floats with children Kyle's age and a little bit younger, is to go ahead and use the steps. Preferably the first step, where the water is about two to three inches deep, so then they're secure at all times, and they can feel their heads being supported by the stair below them. So what we like to ask them to do is, we like to ask them to put their head back, looking up at the sky. You can entertain them with bumblebees, birds, airplanes. Look for shooting stars during the middle of the day, and just kind of staying comfortable. Supporting their head with your shoulder, and then asking them also to put their belly button up in the sky. Once they become more comfortable with that, you can slowly move them off your shoulder, but continue to support them with the hand, your left hand. And as you can see, Kyle's chin is a little bit forward, so we're going to ask him to put his head back a little bit more, and a little bit more than that. Can you put your head back more, please? There we go. So now he's in a really good position. I'm also supporting his lower back right now to help him feel secure. What you can also do in order to help children stay secure, is put their feet on some lane lines, just kind of put it there, or even put it in one of the little filter wells, or on a stair. So then he's supporting his own body. I can remove my hand from his lower back, and then I can come up here and focus more on his head. Then what you can do is, once he's comfortable, are you feeling comfortable sir? (Yep) You feelin' okay? Are you sure? (Yeah!) Awesome! Then you can go ahead and let him know, and always communicate with the child what you're going to do next, let him know that you're going to go ahead and ask him to put his head back, and that you're going to remove your hand from his lower head, or the lower neck. Is it okay if I remove my hand from back here? (Yep) Okay, we're going to let you float for five seconds, okay? And I want you to try to float for five seconds. You ready? You can also use the bridge of their goggles if they're properly secured, and then just let 'em float. For one, two, three, four, five. Are you doin' okay. (Yep) Okay. Once they become comfortable with that, then you can kind of move away from the body a little bit, pull your chest away. And would you be okay just floating on your back here like this? Awesome. So we're going to let him float for five more seconds, so he gets a...a finer sense of security in supporting himself on his back. You ready? And here we go, just breathe nice and easy, and keep that head back, all the way back. There we go. For one, two, three....keep your head back. Head back, head back, put that head back, sir, head all the way back! One, two, three, four, five! Thank you sir. And that is your back float for children. One more tool that I like to use is the noodle. And a fine little trick with this is to ask the child to put their head back, all the way back on the noodle. He keeps his head back, and what I'm going to do us use the current of my body to help pull him across the pool, and he'll be floating by himself. To learn more about teaching a child to back float, please contact your local swim instructor."