Water Skills for Life is the national standard for aquatic education in New Zealand primary schools. It is linked into the national education curriculum and gives children the skills and knowledge they need to assess risk and make smart decisions around water.
For our primary school children, Water Skills for Life is the essential beginning of life-long learning.
Water Skills for Life
Kids Have Fun and Learn Water Safety
A child's ability to stay afloat and safe in water is something every parent wants. Yet our record in New Zealand of child deaths from preventable drowning is poor.
Please support your children and the Water Skills for Life programme in your school or community.
It is now accepted that learning to swim in isolation is not enough to save a life and that water safety skills should form the basis of aquatic education.
In partnership with Swimming New Zealand, whose educators provide aquatic professional development to school and swim teachers, and our funded partners including regional sports trusts, councils and swim schools, our goal is that every child will learn Water Skills For Life across the country.
Water Skills For Life was developed for children in Years 1 - 8 to learn water safety.
Based on 27 core skills, it establishes broad fundamental competencies for life-long water safety.
Children are taught Water Skills for Life at school, either by their school teacher in the school pool or community or by a swim teacher at a community pool. Schools can decide how they teach their students Water Skills For Life, to reflect the needs of the students and the nature of your local environment.
Children learn these skills with Water Skills For Life
Click on each link to read about what's involved with each activity and download the teacher resource as a pdf.
Water safety and awareness skills
- Recognise an emergency for yourself or others. Know who to call for help and how
- Know, understand and respect water safety rules, hazards and risks around the home, farm and around pools
- Know, understand and respect water safety rules, hazards and risk in natural environments such as at the beach, offshore, river or lake.
- Know, understand and respect water safety rules, hazards and risks for water activities such as swimming, water sports and boating
- Know how and why t make safe decisions for yourself and others
- Know how to recognise hypothermia and how to treat it
Getting in and out of the water
- Get in and out of the water safely in any environment.
- Perform this sequence with a buddy watching: check the depth of the water, check that the area is safe, jump into deep water, float on back for 1 minute to control breathing, return to edge and exit
Going under the water - Submersion
- Get under water, open eyes and control breathing
- Pick up an object from under the water
- Dive from a horizontal position in the water and move underwater for a slow count to five
Floating on the water - Personal Buoyancy
- Float, then regain feet
- Control breathing while floating on
backfor at least 1 minute
- Scull head-first and/or scull feet first for at least 3 minutes
- Tread water for at least 3 minutes in deep water
- Perform this sequence in deep water: correctly fit a lifejacket then tread water, scull, float or a mixture for 3 minutes while controlling breathing. Then return to
edgeand get out of the water
- Perform this sequence for five minutes: signal for help while treading water, sculling, floating, or a mixture, and while controlling breathing
Rolling and turning in the water - Orientation
- Horizontal rotation (front to back and back to front)
- Horizontal to
verticalrotation and vice versa (front or back to upright and return)
- Vertical rotation (half rotation and full rotation) around the body’s vertical axis
What to do in an emergency - Safety of self and others
- Float and signal for help with and without a flotation aid
- Do a reach rescue and a throw rescue with a buddy
- Perform this sequence: correctly fit a lifejacket, do a step entry into deep water, float in the H.E.L.P. position, then with a couple of buddies or a group form a huddle, return to
edgeand get out
Moving through the water - Propulsion
- Move 15m non-stop, using any form of propulsion
- Move through the water environments of all kinds (currents, waves, depth – in situ or simulated)
- Move 50m and/or 3 minutes non-stop, confidently and competently – using any form of propulsion on their side, front, back, or a mixture
- Move 100m and/or 5 minutes non-stop, confidently and competently – using any form of propulsion on their side, front, back, or a mixture