Many parents think of swimming classes as a big social opportunity for their children. Somewhere they can be active, have some fun, and learn valuable skills that they can carry for the rest of their life. Now swim lessons can be all of those things, but many times big class lessons through the YMCA or a city program can fall drastically short of these expectations.
Many times these swim lessons are taught in classes too big by instructors with too little experience in order to handle that size of a class. The result is a very boring and militant thirty minutes of standing on a wall practicing a drill that the child will begin to memorize poor form with, luckily there are better options.
Avoid Getting Lost in The Shuffle
A big issue with large class swim lessons is that the instructors see them as one kid, in one of their many classes. They don’t have the time or the ability to get to know your child and what they need to work on and practice. Their job is to get the group to practice and hopefully master a set of skills that they give drills for.
Sure, the instructor will take them out and spend 2-3 minutes with them one on one, once or twice a lesson. But during that time they’ll just give quick form corrections and never do anything to make sure your child is actually doing it correctly. This leads to a lot of your child practicing skills poorly and not getting very much out of class except for 5 minutes of one on one instruction.
Larger Class, Stricter Teacher
Any person who works with kids can tell you that the more of them you have in a group, the easier it is for them to lose their focus on what they’re supposed to be doing. I used to work for a city aquatics program and I could easily tell you that once a class went above 5 kids I had to become much, much more strict in order not to lose their attention.
The worst thing you wanna do when it comes to teaching kids about the water is for them to have a negative association with it, especially in their early stages of learning. A large part of building aquatics skills is feeling comfortable and excited about the pool, wanting to be in it, wanting to learn. Having a strict instructor who has to constantly yell at kids to focus or give them repetitive drills is going to leave your kids dreading the water.
Also, it should be mentioned that many swim instructors at places like YMCA and city programs are brand new swim instructors who are trying to build experience. For some, they may have never worked with children before and may not have the special knack for keeping them engaged without yelling. That’s not the instructor’s fault, but it is something to keep in mind.
Swim Classes are Not Cost Effective
Many private instructors will tell you that you’re actually getting a better deal by going with private lessons. As someone who has been both a private instructor and an instructor of a big class I can tell you that it is undoubtedly true.
For big class lessons, you might get a smaller price tag, but what you get in volume you lack in quality. Many times, swim schools are built on a level system that include benchmarks a child must hit before learning new skills. The thing is, if the child is receiving poor instruction and not getting what they need, they will have to repeat this level over and over again.
I’ve seen kids have to repeat levels 3, even 4, times before getting to the next one. That’s 3 sets of lessons you have to pay for so your child can learn a few skills. Not only does this make your child take way longer to progress than if they had gone with private instruction, it can end up costing you twice the amount of money than if you had just gotten private lessons to start.
Ultimately, YMCA style swim classes use the lower price tag to attract more customers so they can fill their classes. The quality of those classes only goes down as more kids go to them and it just drives a cycle of keeping kids coming back and repeating the same skills all over again. Look into private lessons, there not only more enjoyable but they’ll get your child swimming faster.