Swimming lessons provide participants with a life-long skill: the ability to swim. This is an important skill that has the potential to help save lives in emergency situations. So the big question is – what is the best way to learn to swim? Private lessons or group classes? As each swimmer will have different personalities, ways in which they learn, and different needs and goals there is no definitive answer. Below are some things to consider when deciding whether private classes or group lessons are the way to go for different swimmers in your program, as well as ideas on how to integrate different sessions into swim school programs.
- One on one sessions can be great for swimmers who need more individualised attention or have trouble staying on task in group situations.
- Due to swimmers receiving more individualised attention, lesson plans can be created with one swimmer in mind rather than a group of swimmers. This allows instructors to be more specific in the skills they are teaching.
- Private lessons may need to be scheduled at the start or end of a teaching shift where regular group classes are being held. Pool space and teacher availability will need to be considered when scheduling private swimming lessons.
- Consider the cost to your program when you are scheduling private classes. Ensure it is economically viable from a business point of view and price classes appropriately when limiting class numbers to make room for private lessons.
- Classes can be shorter (e.g. 15-20 minutes) as instructors will fit a lot into a session where they only have to work with one swimmer. This also allows for more classes to be scheduled into the program (three or four per hour) if pool space and instructors are available.
- Some swimmers may get bored without any peers to feed off and push them along in their learning and skill acquisition. Activities may need to be changed frequently to hold the swimmer’s attention, however, it is important to remember swimmers need repetition in order to master skills properly.
- Swimmers can be motivated by watching their peers and trying to emulate the skills they are working on. Seeing swimming skills and drills in action is great for visual learners. Group lessons provide an environment where healthy competition between swimmers can encourage them to work harder to be better and improve their swimming technique, endurance and speed.
- More swimmers can be booked into a learn to swim program by scheduling regular, ongoing group classes provided there is pool space and teacher availability.
- Cost can be kept lower for your customers in group sessions as the expenses and running cost of providing swimming lessons (e.g. lane hire or pool rent, heating and chemicals costs, and instructor wages) can be shared across all of the students in the class.
- Instructors may have to deliver more generalised lesson plans in order to cater for ranging abilities and needs within a lesson.
- Group lessons allow swimmers to learn important skills and social etiquette that can be carried into day to day life such as focus, following instructions, patience and acceptance.
- Swimmers can form life-long bonds and friendships with other students in their lessons and feel what it is like to be part of a team working towards a common goal.
Whichever way your look at it, private lessons and group lessons both have merit and there is a place for them in swimming programs around the world. Regardless of the type of lesson parents chose for their children, educate them about the need for frequency and consistency in attendance in order to see improvement and get the best results when learning to swim. Decide what works best for your swim school and think about ways that they can be integrated into your program to benefit swimmers according to their individual needs.
How do you keep swimmers interested and engaged? Share your ideas in the comments below.
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