When it comes to determining what type of swim lessons you can offer, or what type of swim lesson class a parent should enroll their child in, there are several considerations, including, but not limited to the skill level of the swimmers.  In today’s blog on group swim lessons for kids, my recommendations are based on the assumption that we are talking about non-swimmers or true beginner swimmers.  With that said, here are my recommendations based on the age of the beginner swimmers:

3 & 4 year olds

Especially for children under five years old, I personally don’t recommend a class larger than 3 children.  As you probably well know, I also feel strongly about the benefits of using a “progressive flotation device (removable buoyancy pads),” from both a safety stand point as well a means to increase the child’s ability to learn faster due to increased practice time.  You improve anything through practice.  If you can’t practice-you can’t improve.  In terms of a developing a dependency with a progressive flotation device, you eliminate that because you are constantly challenging the swim lesson student by giving them just enough buoyancy to be successful.  On the other hand, use no flotation device and what happens?  The child becomes dependant on the person helping them and holding them, and doesn’t learn how their kicking and pulling actually moves them through the water.

5 & 6 years olds

A quad class (4:1 ratio) or small group class (6:1 ratio) can work nicely in kids swim lessons, providing you use some type of progressive flotation device for beginners AND have an experienced swimming instructor who minimizes downtime.  If there is a lot of “waiting turns,” then you’re much better off with a smaller class.   Not only does the child miss out on invaluable practice time, but teachers will experience class management problems as well, not to mention the safety of the children is compromised.

7 & 8 year olds

For children ages 7 and over, a group of up to 8 can still provide an effective learning environment even for beginners.  But once again, providing the swim instructor uses some type of flotation device and knows how to maximize practice time when teaching group swim lessons to beginners.

Advantages of the Small Group Lessons

There are some clear advantages of small group swim lessons over private lessons as well:

  1. Peer Learning – Peer learning is very powerful. The “if she can do it I can do it” logic is very real and goes a long way in learning and improving skills.
  2. Fun – Children enjoy being around other children.  More than any other class scenario, “small groups” capture this critical component of learning.   Enjoyment = Success.
  3. Price – Small Group Lessons are certainly the most economical because the addition of more students brings down the cost of the class.

At the Swim Lessons Company, we no longer do anything larger than a trio (3 children per class) for beginner preschoolers (Swim 101).  We did quads (4:1 ratio) for a long time, but for both learning and safety reasons, we now don’t go larger then trios.  For older children, Swim 102 (6-9) and Swim 103 (10-12), we regularly offer quads and small group classes, which the class is comprised to up to six students.  In fact, we even will put up to eight students in a class in some of our school swim programs, camps, etc. where the children are at least 7 years of age.  Again, when you combine flotation devices and better motor ability due to maturation, you can run a very successful small group class in a safer, more enjoyable learning environment.

Hope this article was helpful to you.  I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of private swim lessons in my next swim lesson blog.


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