Thinking of signing your child up for swimming lessons? Great! Lessons are a brilliant way to accelerate their learning and they’ll no doubt look forward to every session, but it’s a good idea to double check that the lessons will be providing everything they need before you commit.
Here are the six key things you should check for when signing your child up for swimming lessons:
1. Make sure the lessons follow the ASA Learn to Swim Pathway
This is the national syllabus which teachers should use to deliver lessons. It ensures that the learner, whether they’re a baby, toddler, child or adult, receives high-quality and consistent lessons which are suitable for their age group and ability. If the lessons at your nearest pool don’t follow the ASA Pathway, it’s worth looking a little further afield to ensure your child is getting the very best lessons.
2. Make sure teachers have the best qualifications and knowledge
You can ask swimming teachers about their qualifications; they’re used to being asked and really don’t mind. Most swimming teachers will be ASA qualified, and you can read all about what each level of qualification entails here. You should also ask about class sizes, as the ASA recommends no more than 12 learners to one teacher.
Participants in a Stage 15 session learning to swim in facemasks and camo shorts (OK, we fibbed)!
3. Ask about progression
You’ll want to make sure that your child is going to be continually challenged and have the opportunity to progress as far as they can. The ASA syllabus has seven initial stages of learning, each with its own clear set of manageable targets, which will take your little one right through from beginner to competent swimmer at a pace that suits them. If you think your child has been on one stage forever, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, challenge or question your child’s progression. Most teachers use iPads poolside and they tick off achievements as they go along so they have an accurate record of exactly where your child is up to in that particular stage. Be patient with stage 4: this is a longer stage and many of our kids have stayed at this level for a while.
4. Make sure the lessons are fun
We all know that kids learn best when they’re enjoying themselves, so making sure their swimming teachers are going to implement fun and games in their lessons is very important. Ask the teachers if they use pool games and play with pool toys as part of their lesson framework and find out what they are. If not, look elsewhere to find more suitable lesson styles. Teachers at least let the little ones jump in at the end, have a few races etc.
5. Make sure lessons are comprehensive
Learning the key swimming strokes are important, but there are so many other lessons in water skills and awareness that your child’s swimming teacher needs to include. Learning to maintain buoyancy, enter and exit the pool and how to use swimming as a fitness exercise are all just as important as learning to swim on its own. This is something you can easily enquire about at your local pool. Swimming lessons are usually half-an-hour so again, ask your swimming teacher what you can do to practice with your child in the pool together.
6. Ask about encouragement and rewards
A good swimming teacher understands that children sometimes need gentle encouragement in order to complete a task, but they should also understand that the child must never be forced into an activity. Ask the teacher how they would deal with the situation if your child hesitates or refuses to take part in an activity. If you’re happy with their suggestions then your child is going to be in good hands and be able to learn at a pace they’re comfortable with. Good lessons should have an accompanying badge and certification framework which you can purchase for your child to reward their achievements and motivate them during more difficult times. You can reward and motivate your child yourself by getting them items such as swim bags, fluffy poncho towels, funky swim floats and their own goggles.
If your chosen swimming lessons and swimming teacher checks out with all of the above points then you can be confident that your little one is going to get the most out of their lessons. All that’s left to do now is watch their proud little faces each time they receive a new award certificate and move on to the next learning stage. Priceless.