We recently signed our four-year-old up for organized swim lessons. At the time, he was about four months into his fourth year, and while he had some experience piddling around in a pool, he really hadn’t done much in the way of real swimming.
We thought that swim lessons would help him get accustomed to the water and also give him a chance to play and interact with other kids. And while our son indeed had plenty of fun and certainly looked forward to his twice weekly lessons, I wouldn’t say they were all that productive. They did help him get a little more used to being around the water, but a week in Florida with several hours each day spent at the pool and in the ocean with mom and dad was enough to have him swimming on his own.
Here’s a few of the reasons I think our son did better learning from us than he did at the swim lessons.
Our son isn’t going to trust anyone else like he would his parents. And the same goes for when he’s in the pool.
Setting him up for swim lessons with a person he doesn’t know — even if they’re great at what they do and have the sweetest, friendliest disposition — may not leave our son feeling totally at ease placing his well-being in their hands. We could tell he was a little hesitant about doing certain things (like jumping from the side of the pool) with his swim instructor that he was fine doing with us.
Too Much Fun
With a class of seven or eight kids, things can get a little wacky sometimes. And I admit that part of signing our son up for swim lessons was for him to have a good time and make some new friends, which he did. However, as far as the learning side of things went, sometimes there was a little too much kid fun and too little learning for the swim lessons to be considered very productive.
Too Many Kids
With seven or eight kids, and a lesson that only spanned about 30 minutes, there wasn’t a lot of time to spend one-on-one in any sort of in-depth instruction. This meant that it was a lot of class activities, and in a class that was very spread out in their knowledge of and comfort with being in the water.
When we spent time at the pool and ocean in Florida with our son, it was one-on-one teaching, explaining and interacting with him, where he could pay attention and listen better than when he was focused more on frolicking with a bunch of other kids at swim lessons.
Too Diverse a Class
Kids at age four can vary so much in their abilities. There were a couple kids who didn’t even want to get into the water, while others were like little fish. And the ones who were hesitant to enter often took instruction time away from those who were ready to learn.
This meant that while some kids were just learning to put their face in the water, others were already swimming under water. This broad spectrum of abilities kind of made it hard for the instructor to accommodate the various needs of all the kids involved, whereas with just his parents able to gauge his abilities, our son got a much more focused approach from us, which helped him move along rapidly in his advancement in a relatively short period of time.
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