Are Private Swimming Lessons Worth It?
Swimming is an important life skill. If you’re like most parents, you are eager to teach your child how to swim safely. But, it can be hard to know how and when to get started, even if you are a strong swimmer.
A qualified swim instructor can teach your child age-appropriate skills and life-saving techniques. Swim instructors typically hold certifications through nationally recognized organizations like the American Red Cross or Infant Swim Resource.
What Age Should My Child Take Swim Lessons?
Ideally, it’s a good idea to introduce your child to the water as early as 6 months old. At this age, children are generally not fearful of the water. In fact, most infants will reflexively hold their breath when submerged for short periods of time.
Parent-Child Swim Lessons
Swim programs affiliated with the American Red Cross or YMCA typically offer Parent-Child classes for children under the age of 2 or 3. These classes are designed to introduce your child to the water and promote water safety. In these classes, both parent and child actively participate in the water.
At this age, children don’t have the motor skills for true stroke development. But, you can learn how to assist your child while floating, how to encourage your child to blow bubbles and how to enter and exit the water safely.
These classes can be a fun bonding experience for you and your child. They often incorporate toys, short games and music to help hold your child’s interest.
Most programs offer 1-2 classes a week for 6 weeks.
Infant Swim Resource (ISR)
Infant Swim Resource is a nationally recognized program that focuses on aquatic survival for infants and children. These lessons are structured differently than traditional swim lessons.
Children start lessons around 6 months old. Lessons are one-on-one with the instructor for 10 minutes, five days a week. Children are asked to continue lessons until the child can demonstrate self-rescue skills – typically 6 weeks.
Most children under the age of 1 are able to learn to roll onto their backs to float, rest and breathe. They are taught to maintain this position until help arrives.
These lessons require a significant time and financial commitment from families.
Learn-To-Swim Lessons & Stroke Development
Toddlers and older children are ready for Learn-To-Swim classes and lessons that focus on stroke development. Programs like these focus on building skills one step at a time. Instructors break down swimming strokes into basic movements: kicking, breathing, and arm movements. As kids master these building blocks, they develop confidence in the water.
Eventually, your child should learn different strokes and when to use them. Breaststroke, backstroke and front crawl, for example, are all important tools for a proficient swimmer.
Private vs. Group Swim Lessons
Private and group swim lessons each offer their own advantages. Depending on where you live, swim lessons may be offered at your local health club, community pool, aquatic center, YMCA, or your own private pool.
Advantages of Private Lessons
Private lessons offer individual attention and instruction tailored to your child. These lessons are typically more expensive and often shorter than group lessons. Lessons may be 30 minutes for young children.
Some instructors will travel to you and teach your child, siblings, or even a small group of kids in your backyard. If you or a family member has a pool where your child will swim frequently, it can be helpful to teach your child to swim at home.
The instructor can show your child how to swim to the edge of steps. Some children learn better in a familiar environment. Your home pool will also offer fewer distractions than a large, crowded public pool. Plus, the convenience of learning at home is great. You can expect to pay more for these types of lessons, but the benefits may be worth it to you.
Sometimes it’s not always possible to take lessons at home. Private and group lessons are offered in almost every community.
If you would like your child to take lessons year-round, lessons at an indoor pool can be a great option. Many programs offer one lesson a week throughout the year to build skills.
Group lessons also have the advantage of “positive peer pressure.” Some youngsters will see their friends doing a certain skill and decide that they can do the same thing, even if they are a bit timid.
Many programs also offer private lessons in public pools. This can be another great option if you want your child to have individual attention but “at home” lessons are not offered in your area. It’s also great if you would like your child to take several weeks of lessons in the winter months to prepare for the summer.
What To Look For in a Swim Instructor
Whatever type of swim lesson is a good fit for you and your family, it’s important to find a qualified instructor.
- Have A National Certification
Swim instructors should be trained and certified through a nationally recognized learn-to-swim program. They should also hold current CPR and First Aid certifications. The American Red Cross’s Water Safety Instructor is considered the “gold standard” certification program.
- Teach Good Safety Habits
Good instructors will teach good safety habits in and near water. Instructors should teach children to always ask for permission before they get into a pool and that they should never swim alone.
- Teach What To Do When You Fall In
Children should learn self-rescue skills and practice swimming in unexpected situations. For example, what to do if you fall in with your clothes on and how to reach for the edge. Older children also should learn what to do if they see someone else in the water who is struggling and how to get help.
As you can see, there are lots of options for swimming lessons. You know your child best and what type of lesson or program will be a good match.
The best type of lesson is one that you and your family can commit to taking regularly.
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