The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children get swim lessons as early as one year of age. Learning to swim has been shown to reduce the risk of drowning by 88% if children participate in formal swimming lessons between ages 1 – 4*. It can also improve sleep quality, increase cognitive skills development and offer a healthy activity for growing bodies+.
Sounds great, but what do you look for in a good learn to swim program? It is important to find a swim school that fits the needs of the student and your family. Here are some things to look for as you search to find that fit.
- developmentally and age appropriate activities and learning, kids learn best through play
- a positive and fun environment that focuses on the needs of the learner
- small class sizes for young children and beginners, for beginners the USSSA minimum standard is no more than a 1 to 6 ratio with the recommendation that 1 to 4 or less is best, as well as shorter lessons in warm water for young children
- progressive development with rewards along the way to keep your swimmer motivated and excited to learn, remember learning to swim is a process
- a friendly and helpful staff that is inclusive and strives to meet your family’s needs, one that includes parents in the process
- a safe environment with vigilant supervision by staff with completed background checks, proper use of equipment, and water safety training included in lessons
- well qualified staff with ongoing training
- a clean facility that includes clear, well sanitized water
- professionalism, including participation in a national association such as the US Swim School Association with minimum standards
Here are some questions you can use to get you started as you visit swim schools in your area:
- What is your instructor to child ratio?
- How long is each lesson?
- How do you determine what level my child should start at?
- What tools do you use to keep students motivated and excited to learn?
- How often do you review water safety with students and with parents?
- What first aid and safety equipment do you have onsite?
- Can parents watch the lesson (or if a young child, do the parents participate with the child in the lesson)?
- Are all staff over 18 background checked?
- How often do instructors receive training? What certifications do instructors hold?
- How often is your pool water checked for proper levels to maintain clean water?
- What organizations does your swim school participate in?
There are many swim schools that offer year-round lessons, so today is a great day to start your search and get signed up. You can find a list of schools in your area by visiting: https://www.usswimschools.org/find-a-school/
*Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine 2014
+Griffith Study 2013