How to choose swim lessons: preschool edition

Swim lessons are happening for the first time in the Sanders house. I’m taking my 4 year old to learn how to “swim”, full well knowing he will have no idea how to swim by the end of his session 🙂 . I mostly want him to learn to respect the water and how to be safe while having fun. My sister and I were both competitive swimmers from the age of 5 to 18. We were lifeguards, swim instructors, swim lessons managers and pool managers. There is probably no other place where we’re more comfortable than an Olympic pool filled with chlorinated water. That being said, I’m going to have someone else teach my son how to swim because I simply want him to have FUN.

Why does my child NEED swim lessons?

Well I hate to start with grim facts but here it is. Writing this makes my heart hurt and throat tighten because these things don’t have to happen as often as they do. This Summer children will drown in the United States of America. Many of these children will be Brown because we as Brown people are less likely to know how to swim, be familiar with aquatic settings and have an awareness of safety around water. It’s just the sad truth. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the following statement, “Black people don’t swim.” and there is a lot of truth to that statement, but guess what, we DO DROWN. If you don’t swim as a parent, that’s okay, do your child a favor and enroll them in swim lessons. Don’t be part of the statistic that states that children of non-swimming parents are more likely to not know how to swim either.

Where should we take lessons?

I love outdoor pools, but I can tell you right now, if my kid sees an insect floating in the water (and he would) he will completely lose his cool. To avoid major meltdowns I’m choosing and indoor facility. We are going to go the YMCA for swim lessons this summer, mostly because we’re already members. I know that’s not a very solid reason but I’m just being honest. But if I may, I would just like to put in this plug. There is no reason to pay an exorbitant amount of money or do private lessons at this age. Let me tell you why. The goal of swim lessons at this age is water safety and awareness and having fun. That’s it! My sister and I have overseen swim lessons for hundreds of kids and I’m telling you that if they aren’t having fun they will learn to hate and fear the water.

Frequency of Lessons

Chose lessons that coincide with your kid’s optimal time of day. You know the time when they are the best at listening. If your kid doesn’t do mornings save yourself and their teacher a headache, sign up for afternoon or evening classes. The more frequent the classes the better the outcome. Once a week isn’t going to get it, I can tell you from experience. The kids that I taught once a week learned very little, and it had nothing to do with the kids, we just naturally forget new and foreign information.  My son will do 4 morning swim lessons in a Monday-Thursday session. Fingers crossed he’ll retain the information from the previous 24 hours.

Send your child to classes until they KNOW how to swim. This may take several sessions and Summers to accomplish this goal.

Swim Lessons Instructors

If you go to a public facility (YMCA, local Parks and Rec, etc.) then their teacher will be certified. Just know that swim instructors are often high school kids working a Summer job. This may be their first job, and it’s not easy to manage preschoolers under the all-seeing eye of their parents. As long as your kid is safe, happy and relatively engaged that’s all you can really ask for.

So go, sign up, enroll your child in swim lessons. YOU ARE SAVING THEIR LIFE.

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