By KatieHarker

At the beginning of every swim season, parents and prospective clients usually ask the same questions. When should children learn to swim? What are the pros and cons for group vs private lessons? What are different teaching methods depending on the age of the swimmer?
The answers to these questions are dependent on a child’s personality, the client’s budget and their access to a private pool vs a public pool. My goal is to provide clients with as much information as possible so they can make the best decision for them and feel confident with their choice.

Babies as young as 10 months can start taking mommy and me lessons.Babies have a natural epiglottal reaction to close their mouths underwater and lose that reaction by 12 months, so it’s a good idea to start teaching them as soon as possible. In addition,studies show that gentle movements engaged through swimming teaches babies to engage both sides of their body simultaneously. This bilateral movement not only helps develop and maintain muscle memory, it also increases brain development. Classes for babies last 15-20 min whether they are at a public pool or private pool. Find a friend who has a heated pool, bring in 4-6 parents and get a private instructor. This will lower the cost and be a fun little social event.

Private lessons can be a fantastic experience. Certified instructors teach at clients’ homes for 45 min to an hour. Parents don’t have to rush to get them ready, out the door and sit in traffic to and from lessons, which is something most people in LA want, less time in traffic! The instructor will assess the child’s personality and abilities and tailor the lesson to them. Two to three lessons a week is standard for private lessons. Repetition builds muscle memory which comes back to them in the water.

Clients can also set up a block of lessons with a few moms if one or more of them have a pool, which results in each swimmer getting a 20-30 min private lesson.

Public lessons at an accredited swim school are also a great option. Ask them about their method or sit in on a class before enrolling a swimmer to see if it’s a good fit. There are many swim schools across LA that offer great group lessons.Some public pools still offer one on one lessons with instructors. I know some group classes that have a swimmer in for 15 min a lesson.

It’s a waste of time for parents and their children. Nothing productive will happen in 15 minutes. It could take a child 15 minutes to cry out their fears or get in their suit. Lessons should last at least 30 minutes. That may seem like a long time, but there is a point where they will become more productive and enjoy the lessons.

If a parent has an outgoing personable child they might love group lessons or they could get distracted by other children.If a child is more fearful and apprehensive they may benefit from a one on one lesson until they can move into a class setting. Therefore, a personality assessment is always helpful.

Instructors for any swim lessons should be CPR/First Aid and Lifeguard Certified. Those certifications need to be from an accredited organization like the Red Cross or the AmericanHeart association. If they took the courses online that doesn’t count. If they didn’t physically perform CPR or first aid in front of a skilled instructor for their certification, it’s worthless. How long has the instructor been teaching? I feel that a minimum of 5yrs or more is preferable. New, young new instructors may charge less, but it also may take them three times as long to get a child swimming, if at all. I have had many frustrated parents come to me over the years lamenting that they had their child was in public or private lessons for 2 years with a different instructor and they still couldn’t swim.This should not happen! In general it takes me about 3 weeks to get a child fully swimming with my method. Parents shouldn’t hesitate to ask instructors about their method and time frame for swimming. In addition, young and inexperienced swim instructors often don’t know about the psychology of swimming, such as the tips and tricks for gaining trust with kids quickly. They’re often still learning to build their method and their confidence.

If any parents or families have further questions please don’t hesitate to email me. I’m happy to answer any and all questions, regardless of whether or not they become a client. Water safety and confident swimmers are a passionate subject to me. Here is wishing you a healthy, happy and safe summer!