Swim Season is Here! What Type of Swim Lessons are Right for Your Child?

Summer is here!  For many families that means a trip to the beach or pool.  If your little one will be anywhere near water this summer it's time to start thinking about swim lessons.  While you may think that's as easy as finding your closest pool and registering your child for a convenient time, there are several factors to consider to find the right fit.

According to Rita Goldberg from The British Swim School, there are two basic kinds of lessons:  survive/survival and swim.  How to decide which is right for your child?

swimming lessons
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Survival skills are the minimum skills a child needs to rise to the surface of the water and instantly roll onto her back.  This allows for free airways and for the ability to be heard so that the child can breathe and cry for help and prevent drowning.  Survival skills are broken into distinct levels to help a child survive in the water: water acclimation, back floating, and reaching a safe place. 

Survival skills can be taught to even very young children, although the approach is a little different based upon age.  For children under three, survival lessons are normally started with a parent in the water, but once a child can float unaided, then a parent is often on the deck and not in the pool.  Children over three are taught the exact same way, but without a parent in the water.  Survival skills can begun to be taught to children as young as three months.  

Once a child has the necessary survival skills, she is ready to move onto swim skills.  A good approach to take to build strong skills is to focus on stroke, then stroke + distance, and stroke + distance + stamina.  It is good to set definite and achievable goals for your child so that they do not get discouraged.   Once children are strong swimmers,  the next step for many children is to join a Junior Swim Team and then a regular Swim Team.

In order to give your child the best chance of success at developing good swim and survival skills, look for lessons that are fun and teach through play and teachers who aren't just good swimmers but who also like children.  When searching for good swim lessons, ask whether your child's swim teacher has received training on how to teach swimming to children, is Lifeguard trained, and is CPR certified. 

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Also inquire about the teacher to child ratio, but expect this ratio to rise as the age and skill level of the children increases.  A warm pool will also help ensure that your child is willing to get in the pool and stay for a lesson.  Letting your child choose a new swimsuit she is excited about wearing can also help get buy-in from your child for lessons.  If your child's lessons will be outdoors, consider getting swimwear with SPF protection, such as that from Snapperrock which has UV 5o+ protection so you don't need to worry about sunscreen washing off.

Another consideration is how you would like lessons to be paced.  The most common approach is to sign children up for a session lasting a certain number of weeks.  However, some swim schools, such as The British Swim School, allow children to progress at their own pace with parents paying a monthly fee.  This allows students to move up a level as soon as they obtain a new skill while removing the pressure to reach a certain level by the end of the session.  


When it comes to the water and swim lessons, stay safe and have fun!

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Swim Season is Here! What Type of Swim Lessons are Right for Your Child?

Jamie is a Beltway Insider who loves channeling her pre-motherhood love of traveling into spending time exploring all D.C. has to offer with her brood of two girls and two boys ages 9, 7,5, and a baby. She is a reformed lawyer turned full-time kid wrangler who enjoys photographing her everyday chaos and anything salted caramel. Since life is never dull, she loves writing about the issues and events going on in her life at any given time, including caring for a daughter with special needs and th ... More

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