Why are semi-private classes better than private swim lessons?

Clients often ask us if we offer private swim lessons. The simple answer is no, however, with only 3 children in a class, Floaties is proud to offer small classes that could be considered semi-private lessons.

We often hear feedback from parents that return to our small class structure after trying both private swim lessons and large group lessons. Parents often find themselves frustrated at the lack of progress in their child’s skill development, upset that there seems to be not enough trust or rapport built with the instructor to facilitate proper learning and progression, and concerned that the child may be either bored or over-stimulated.

At Floaties, we understand that learning a complex motor skill (such as swimming) involves a great deal of physical and cognitive effort.  In an effort to better explain factors affect a child’s progression, here are some tips that may help highlight some benefits to semi-private lessons.

Childs attention span

Two important factors that influence progression are consistency and repetition. Because learning a complex skill involves significant physical and cognitive effort, keeping a child focused and attentive is best when lessons are kept to shorter, more frequent bouts.  For younger children, a longer practice session of an hour or more has been shown to increase frustration, boredom and fatigue, while decreasing motivation and self- confidence.

At Floaties, we want learning to be fun, interactive and engaging. Attending lessons twice a week for 2 thirty minute lessons will be much more beneficial that one hour long lesson, once a week, or intensive lessons every day of the week. Attending lessons twice a week allows for greater consistency and opportunities to practice, thus increasing a child’s opportunity to master skills faster, while reducing the element of fatigue, boredom and reduced motivation due to burn-out.

Floaties Swim School encourages parents to swim twice a week in order to maximize practice opportunities and to promote skill mastery.

Benefit of social interaction and peer modeling

One of the greatest rewards from attending small group lessons are the benefits derived from the social interaction that your children experience.  Playing and socializing with students in their class can be a wonderful bonding opportunity for your child.  Additionally, learning is best facilitated through building and maintaining trust and rapport between the instructor and child.

In addition, motor control research shows that children learn skills better when their peers model the skills they are learning.  Watching another child practice the skills they are struggling with allows the child to create different learning outcomes and encourages different practice methods. Often times, small private instruction can be lacking this key social interaction and peer modeling that truly makes learning enjoyable for most children.

Conversely, enrolling a child in large groups swim lessons may prove to be too socially overwhelming for a child, too intimidating, and the important element of building trust and rapport with the instructor is not as effective when an instructor has to attend to teaching 6 or more children at once.

Cost

Like most sports, mastery of a skill does not happen overnight, and committing to the mastery of a sport is requires both a time and financial commitment. While parents often seek the most economical opportunities for their children when engaging in an extra-curricular activity, parents should consider the “hidden costs” when examining lesson options.

Large group lessons are inexpensive, but with lesser opportunities for the child to get individualized instruction, pools or aquatics facilities that are not truly conducive to learning and instruction; ( i.e cold lap pools, outdoors in the cloudy weather, etc)  progression may be much slower than expected, therefore may be a large financial investment than anticipated.

Contrarily, private swim lessons can be very expensive, very time consuming and for some children, produce greater aquatic anxiety, increased fear, decreased motivation and self- confidence, resulting in the child no longer finding joy in the activity and therefore wanting to quit prior to learning important life-saving skills. This may result in the parent being unsatisfied with their significant financial investment.

For parents questioning the benefits of private lessons or large group lessons, we offer the opinion that optimal environments for children learning complex motor skills should be short, frequent bouts of practice opportunities, rooted in fun, praise and trust. Since learning may not always be visible, as children often need to “mentally” learn a skill first prior to being able to master it physically,  small class sizes that allow for socialization and peer modeling can lead to greater success and faster progression. Finally, small class sizes, individualized instruction and a pool specifically designed for the child’s comfort and learning in mind is a fantastic investment in the mastery of such a life-saving skill.

 

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