Teach Slowly, That Students May Learn Quickly

One comment we receive most often from our clients (4000 adults since 1983) is, "It was so great to have time to slow down, feel what's happening, and not be pushed."

It's not news that to learn to swim, people have to feel what the water does for them. But how many teachers skip steps in order to get to the end of the curriculum and check someone off the list? That has been going on for so long that now, many adults have given up on swimming lessons. They think there's something wrong with THEM that they didn't learn. But no, there's nothing wrong with them.

Who's the boss of your swimming lessons? Is someone telling you to advance students before they're ready? Who does that help? Not you. Not the student. Not the business owner. Not the parent. It hurts everyone. It hurts the industry of swimming and all the swimming sports: it keeps people from learning to swim and from having fun in the water. And that keeps people from going on to enjoy the other swimming sports, as well.

I'll bet all of us who teach swimming know how much fun it is and how good it feels. Do you want to pass it on? Is that why you teach? It's probably part of it. Ask yourself if every last thing you do with your swimming lessons makes sense.

For example, does it make sense to put people in the water for a half hour lesson, use that brief time to work on skills, and say goodbye 'til next time without connecting with them about what they did? Does a half-hour lesson even make sense?

Wouldn't it make more sense to ask people how they feel before and after class, so you'd know what to work on that day? Do you encourage them to talk about their swimming? Are you interested in listening? People (adults, anyway) have a LOT to say about their swimming. The more you encourage them to discuss it, the more they have to say. This is a great way to get students to know each other a bit in class. I have them talk in pairs. They're truly interested in what the others are learning. They get inspiration from the things others share.

This takes time in a lesson. But it's time well spent! It doesn't need to use pool time. You can use time outside the pool before and after class to see how people are feeling about their last class, learn what's important to them to cover today, and after class, what they learned and what excites them. It adds value to a lesson.

Learning to swim is about so much more than swimming skills. And going slowly is the only way to optimize the students' time, as well as yours. They learn so quickly when you pay attention to them as people and teach the whole person, rather than just the arms and legs. Taking more time to teach speeds up learning. You'll have them coming back for class after class after class.

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