Learning to Swim: Deciding on Lessons

When I signed MaM up for swimming lessons last year, I shopped by price, location, and availability. We settled on the pool closest to our house, which happened to have reasonably priced lessons at a time we could commit to. With all of the choices out there, here are a few factors to consider when signing your child up for swimming lessons:

Inside v. Outside: One thing I did not foresee last summer- at least one thunderstorm per week in the month of July. Her three week session got extended to six, and they just squeezed in the last lessons the week before school started. This year, MaM is taking her lessons inside at the Fort Ben YMCA. Weather, except for lightning/tornado warnings, is not an issue.

Time of Day: I knew we’d have to do lessons this year on non-day camp days. There was no way I was going to attempt to get someplace in the evening on a regular basis on my two work days each week. We ended up choosing lessons around noontime. A friend of mine learned the hard way the morning swim lessons in June may not be the way to go- the water for the parent/child class was COLD at 9am!

Something to keep in mind: Distractions. Last summer, the outdoor pool was closed except for the class being taught. This summer, MaM’s lessons are happening next to another group lesson, a water aerobics class and an open swim. There’s a lap pool across the way, and there’s music on the entire time. She doesn’t seem to mind, but for some kids, that might be too much stimuli.

Size of Group: Most places offer group lessons, semi-private, and private lessons. Group lessons are the most common, and many kids are served well by the positive peer pressure presented in a group lesson format. Your child may not try tread water for 30 seconds with you, but with a few friends, motivated by an instructor, it could totally happen. The YMCA keeps a ratio of 1:5 for kids ages 3-5, and aims for 1:8 in the 6-12 age group. Semi-private guarantees a smaller group, and private means it’s 1:1 instruction. I asked Javier Urias, aquatics director at the Fort Ben Y when private lessons might be needed. He said that it will depend on the child, but that some children need more individualized attention. He likened it to hiring a math tutor- sometimes, your child just needs that extra time. (True story: I had private lessons at my hometown Y waaayyy back in the day so I could pass my Girl Scout swim test and swim in the deep water!)

MaM is halfway through her four week course, and is having a great time. Today she swam across our neighborhood pool, which just wowed me. It’s amazing how fast kids pick things up with some practice!

Disclosure: This is the third in a series of posts about the program offerings through theĀ  Greater Indianapolis YMCA. MaM is being provided swimming lessons in exchange for these posts.