Most of us remember when we learned to swim, and the experience that we had in swimming lessons. Most of us experienced the same things: fear, lack of confidence, swallowing water, coughing, etc. I can remember the swimming lessons that I took as a young child like it was yesterday. I took my lessons at the Civic Center Pool (that is what I have always called the City of Denton pool off of Bell Avenue) and I remember staying after my lesson and watching the Denton Swim Team practice wondering if I would ever be as good a swimmer as they were. Well, that day never came, but I did learn how to swim. I look back on that experience as a very good one, one in which not only did I learn how to swim but also gained confidence.
I believe that it is that children learn to swim at a fairly young age. I won’t argue one way or the other about infants taking swimming lessons, but it is critical at some point that children learn to swim.
It’s crucial to choose a program and instructor with a teaching style that will encourage your child to learn to swim. With younger children, choosing an instructor with personality is just as important as swimming skills. Children respond differently to different people. You do not want your child to be forever scared of the water because of an instructor who could not communicate with your child.
I have had experience with both the City of Denton Swim Program and also hiring a private swimming instructor to come to our pool, and both experiences were beneficial. Following are a few tips on what to look for in a swimming instructor:
- Teaching style – Observe the instructor in action prior to enrolling. How are the children responding?
- Experience – Do they have experience not only with swimming, but also with children?
- Safety – Instructors should know CPR and have an emergency plan.
- Ratio – Obviously a low student-teacher ratio is desirable when learning to swim. One-on-one is great, but a group format takes pressure off of the individual child and encourages classmate imitation.
In addition, I have always believed it is best to teach a child to swim in water that is at least 88 degrees so they will not be cold. To be physically uncomfortable while trying to learn a mentally challenging activity is a double whammy and can allow the child to become discouraged.
Many communities are blessed with good instructors. Ask your friends or local pool supply store for names of these instructors.