Swim Lessons for Kids - Get what works!

Written by: Matthew Van Tuinen

Summer has arrived and with it comes frequent trips to the pool, beach, lake and water park.  As a dad of 2 little ones, I needed some expert advice on what to look for and expect when checking out swim lessons.  David Stephens, the Head Coach of the Chicago Wolfpack Aquatic Club and Wolfpack Swim School, has some great advice for Chicago parents:

Can your children handle themselves in the water without a flotation device? In the U.S., drowning is the second leading cause of death among children 12 and under. It is important for every parent to make sure that their children acquire this important skill and learn-to-swim programs are a great resource for this. A good program not only teaches your child how to swim, but how to be safe in and around the water. Visit Illinois Swimming Association clubs for learn-to-swim programs.  Parents should consider observing a class in advance to get to know what the instructors and setting is like.

Here are a few things to consider when considering a learn-to-swim program:

  • Class Ratio –Something in the 5:1 range or less for group lessons is ideal.
  • Instructors – Look for instructors that are fun and energetic. Your kids will enjoy the experience much more in working with someone that is excited about the water.
  • Length of Class – Classes for kids ages 5 and under should be about 30-40 minutes. Classes for kids ages 6 and over should be about 45-60 minutes.
  • Safety – Instructors should be in the water with younger / novice kids. There should be a lesson supervisor as well walking around the pool deck monitoring everything.
  • Water Temperature – Kids usually prefer warmer water and this helps them stay relaxed.  If you know your child gets cold have them wear a rashguard or wet suit.
  • Class Levels – Programs should have a progression system with different skills required to advance to each level. This gives kids goals and a sense of accomplishment as they improve.

Parent–Tot classes are for children ages 9-36 months. Kids are introduced to the water through songs and games. The goals for this class are to have the children comfortable and happy in the water as well as learn the basic skills necessary to move on to Preschool Level classes when age appropriate. Preschool classes are usually ages 3-5 and grade school classes are ages 6-11.

Some kids will have an aversion to water and you never want to force them in as this often increases their fear. Bring their favorite bathtub toys to entice them in the pool. Once they make it in the water, try to leave the instructing to the instructors. Most programs allow parents to observe classes. This is a great opportunity for parents to learn a few things as well and then reinforce those skills outside of the lesson setting.

If they really enjoy their swimming experience, they may want to take it to the next level and join a swim team. Most swim teams start accepting kids at the age of 6 or 7, depending on their skill level. Visit the Illinois Swimming Association for more info on swim teams and competitions.

It is important to remember that all children learn at different rates and that kids do not learn to swim in just a few lessons-- it takes lots of time and practice. Hopefully, you will find a program that works for you and your child so that their experience in the water is a positive one. Happy Swimming!

To learn more, visit www.cwacswimming.com.

Posted on June 29, 2011 at 9:54 PM