Should you book lessons or can you teach your own child to swim?
Some people are afraid of trying to teach their own children to swim because they think they aren’t “doing it right”. Others may feel that swim lessons are a waste of money and that children don’t actually get a lot of swim time during a session.
Here we discuss the options between group lessons, private or one-to-one lessons and teaching your child yourself.
What are the options?
- Cheaper than one-to-one lessons and in some venues the same price as a family swim.
- A good way to meet other parents with children of a similar age/ability. You could arrange to meet up outside of lessons and practise together.
- Keeps you on track and committed to swimming regularly.
- A qualified professional instructor teaches to high standards with skill and experience to optimise your child’s development.
- Group lessons usually follow a curriculum. You can earn badges, certificates or other motivational rewards.
- Group lessons run in a dedicated space with all the necessary kit needed for each skill.
- Group lessons provide a safe learning environment with qualified lifeguards in attendance.
- Your child may not get as much personal attention in a group as you get in private lessons or when teaching your child yourself.
- Availability of classes may not always suit your schedule.
- You usually have to wait until the end of term to move up a level
- The pace of the class and skills taught are balanced amongst the needs of the group, rather than optimised for the individual.
- If your child is new to swimming but comparatively older than the rest of the group, they may feel embarrassed being in a class of young children
- Qualified and experienced professional instructors offer one to one or private group lessons that you can organise with friends
- If you are unable to get into the water, a private instructor can provide the hands-on teaching in your place.
- Private instructors may have more flexible availability to visit the pool of your choice, come to your home if you have a pool at home, or vary the time each week to suit your other commitments.
- Private instructors’ costs vary and are generally more expensive than group lessons.
- One-to-one teaching does not guarantee that your child will progress quickly. Some skills simply take time, patience and practice and the speed of progression in some cases may be no different to being in a group class.
- Private instructors will teach according to your child’s specific needs and progress them as suits their capability. However, as young children’s development is centred primarily around water confidence, it may look like the instructor is just having “playtime”, which may feel like a waste of money. Just because they are private instructors, does not mean that your child will be swimming butterfly in a matter of weeks!
- If your child has hit a sticking point, trying to overcome a fear or having difficulty understanding a skill, a few private lessons on a short-term basis may provide the time and space to help them deal with it, whereas in a group class, the instructor can’t hold everyone else up just so your child can catch up.
- Some children get on better being in a group because they are motivated by the other children. In one-to-one lessons, a child can procrastinate and act up, but in a group class, they often just get on with it because everyone else is.
- If your child is much older than the other children in the group lessons that are available for their ability level, a private instructor can help get them up to speed with their peers without the embarrassment of learning with younger kids.
Do it Yourself:
- Paying for a family swim session may be cheaper than paying for lessons.
- You are not restricted to a specific day or time or even the choice of pool.
- You don’t have to go on your own, you can organise to go with a group of friends for safety, reassurance and sharing of ideas
- You are solely responsible for the safety of your child and the progression of their skills
- You can go as many times as you like each week, but you have to be able to motivate yourself to go
- You might have to buy all the kit you need, though some swimming pools allow you to borrow floats and armbands
- You have to share the pool space with the general public. This may make things difficult at busy times
- Some children respond better to a teacher in a formal learning environment than to a parent
As you can see, there are pros and cons of each approach. You don’t have to stick to one method!
You may want to book lessons to start off on the right track, then do it yourself when you feel you have gained the knowledge and confidence to go it alone or you might want to start on your own and look to the professionals for more technical knowledge once your child is water confident.
You might choose to do lessons when the time fits with your other commitments, or take some time away from lessons if there is nothing available that is convenient.
You can enrol on weekly lessons and go again in between for more practise or you can book on a crash course for a week or more of intensive lessons every day.
You can book a private instructor on a regular basis or just book them once a month to make sure that your DIY approach is progressing adequately.