Water Safety in Early Childhood

While water can be fun, exciting, and educational it is potentially dangerous too and unfortunately our drowning statistics reflect this. 

In New Zealand we see a significant number of preventable drowning fatalities within the under 5 year old age group. Most of these happen around the home, with almost half in home pools. There has also been an increase in drownings in environments outside, but close to the home, such as ponds, drains, farm troughs, creeks, and estuaries.

Inadequate supervision has been implicated in almost all childhood drownings in New Zealand and world-wide.  As children become mobile, they begin to explore their surroundings, however their sense of curiosity and adventure is not matched by an understanding of the possible risks and dangers. Drowning is often silent, so unless the parent or caregiver is actively supervising, they may be unaware of the incident until it is too late.

Our education programmes improve understanding about water safety and the importance of supervision so that we can reduce the risk of drowning.

Education Programmes for Early Childhood

The majority of our education programmes and resources for parents/caregivers, educators and under 5s are free of charge. Where a cost is incurred it will be minimal and required to contribute to venue/pool costs.

Parents and Caregivers:
Drowning Prevention Education 

‘Parents as first teachers’ for their children are able to capitalise on everyday activities as an ideal time to make connections to water safety in fun, meaningful and memorable ways for their under 5s. Parents and caregivers are also paramount to the safety of their under 5s in, on and near water.

The education provided will enable parents and caregivers to:

  • Develop their own water competence knowledge, understanding and skills.
  • Be more confident and skilled to provide essential water safety learning for their pre-school children, and to implement appropriate protective practices to keep their children safer in, on and near water.
  • Experience fun and safe activities with their under 5s in frequently accessed water environments.

Professional Learning and Development (PLD)

Professional learning and development for early childhood educators ensures the sustainability of water safety education for under 5s. If children are to retain important water safety messages learning opportunities need to be provided continuously over time.

The PLD provided will enable educators to gain knowledge and understanding of the water competence for drowning prevention and deepen their understanding of developmentally appropriate water safety learning for under 5s. This, together with the provision of resources, will support and enable ECE educators to confidently teach water safety to under 5s and provide water safety messaging for parents.

PLD can be provided for educators at individual centres or at a shared venue for a cluster of centres.

For further information and to discuss your specific needs contact: [email protected]

Free online modules

We have two eLearning modules that give parents and caregivers some great tips and activities to help create safe spaces for water play and and to develop water competency.

Teaching Resources

Teaching and Learning Toolbox

Find Teacher Guides and teaching and learning resources including free downloadable books you can read with under 5s.


Access free eLearning modules for parents and caregivers of under-fives and start teaching children from home.