Thanks to Big Blue Swim School for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts are my own.
Having tried out swim lessons at about a dozen places, I’m amazed at how different swim lesson programs can be. Considering all the options that are available to families I thought it would be helpful to put together a guide of what things to look for when choosing swim lessons. Things to look for include experienced teachers, ease of scheduling & rescheduling, flexiblity, cleanliness of the facility, and little details that make the lessons more enjoyable for all. I believe these five things will determine the success of the lessons and your family’s experience with the program overall.
I’d recommend taking a free trial lesson before signing your children up for a program if possible so you can check things out for yourself and see if the program is a good fit for your family. I’m also sharing details about Big Blue Swim School which has been our family’s favorite swim lesson school we’ve tried out.
The most important thing, in my opinion, that will determine the success of the swim lessons is having experienced instructors. As someone who taught lessons to kids while I was a high school student, and someone who has taken my own kids to several different places where high school and college students were the main “teachers”, I can attest to the fact that these swim teachers often don’t have much experience. Typically they are just youth who love kids and love swimming and think ‘swim instructor’ sounds like a fun summer job. While my kids enjoyed these weekly “lessons”, they often didn’t learn a whole lot other than the basics. And that’s okay if you are just looking for something to occupy your child’s time but if you want your children to be proficient swimmers, you need instructors who are not only passionate about the job, but have the training and experience to do it.
This is one of the reasons that I love Big Blue Swim School. They employ full-time staff and those teachers go through 100 hours of training to start and then two hours of additional training every week so that they progress as professionals. The training and experience helps the teachers figure out what each child needs to learn. They demonstrate skills and if necessary, adjust how they explain skills, to ensure each kid understands.
Each teacher is truly engaged in finding each kid’s motivation to achieve progress. I saw this first-hand this past weekend when Lucas (my youngest who is on the Autism Spectrum) was having a hard day and was not being the most teachable child. I think many instructors would get frustrated or see a child who was being difficult but his swim instructor at Big Blue Swim School continued to maintain his positive demeanor and took a different approach to his teaching. He found something my child loves (Fortnite) and made a game of the swim lesson to draw in my son. See that smile in the photo above? That was the result of a teacher who entered Luke’s world. I couldn’t tell you what exactly they were talking about because they used all these game terms that I didn’t understand (moms of Fornite obsessed kiddos know what I’m talking about…) but they connected and my boys knew what he was talking about and that’s all that mattered in the moment.
Easy Scheduling & Rescheduling Plus Flexibility
Another factor that is really important in deciding upon a swim lesson program, at least for me as a parent, is a system that makes scheduling (and rescheduling) lessons easy-peasy. As a busy parent I want to be able to do everything online, at a time that is convenient for me. Flexibility is also something that parents will want to consider when looking at swim lesson programs. With my boys in different sports and activities throughout the year, I hate being stuck with swim lessons on a specific day that isn’t easy to change when our simple winter basketball schedule turns into a spring schedule full of baseball and soccer games at different times.
Big Blue Swim School gets how important it is to parents that their scheduling system be easy to use so they make booking swim lessons convenient. They have built their own proprietary software platform that allows families to go online to choose a lesson time that works for all their kids with one click so parents don’t have to come at different times for lessons. The software also allows families flexibility because it lets them log into their account from any device and move lesson times, schedule free make-up lessons, and add additional lessons in just a few easy clicks. They also allow parents the flexibility to start and stop weekly lessons whenever they choose which is perfect for families who go out of town often during the summer or just want to take some time off from lessons. As someone who just had baby #3, and didn’t want to go anywhere for the first couple weeks after we came home from the hospital, I truly appreciate that Big Blue Swim School offers this flexibility!
Clean, Thoughtfully Designed Facility
You’ll want to look for a swimming pool that is, above all, clean. And you don’t want it to just be clean to the visible eye, but you’ll want to know how the facility is cleaned to protect against germs and other bacteria. It’s also important to look at how the facility is laid out, including where parents will be sitting. Will you be able to see your child during the lesson? What kind of experience will you have sitting there each week? (I can tell you from experience that a half hour lesson can seem like eternity if you have to sit in the sauna-like pool atmosphere or have to sit outside in the elements during a lesson.)
Big Blue Swim School prides itself on offering nice, clean facilities for families. Their pools have saline systems and ultra-violet filtration which provide a state-of-the-art defense against waterborne illnesses and harsh chemicals. The floors are carpeted with a special fall-proof, anti-microbial carpet to keep kids from slipping on wet floors and keeps germs at bay. As for the parent viewing area, Big Blue Swim School has a spacious viewing area right next to the pool but separated by a wall of windows so it’s a comfortable temperature for those watching the lessons.
The Little Details Are Considered
While little details probably won’t be the make-or-break deciding factor on which swim lesson program you choose, it definetely will be something you want to consider since you will be making weekly visits. Places that pay attention to the little details show parents that they care about every minute of their visit.
Those that bring young children along to the lesson at Big Blue Swim School will appreciate the train table and coloring area to keep little ones occupied while their siblings are having their swim lesson. They even offer free wifi so parents can work while kids are at their lesson.
I love that Big Blue Swim School thought through all the details of what happens after the swim lessons, too. Changing rooms are plentiful and spacious, there are disposable bags available for wet suits, and they even installed a number of hairdryers so parents could dry their child’s hair before going out into the cold during the winter.
After reading this I’m sure you can see what sets Big Blue Swim School apart from other swim lesson programs. If you are interested in checking out the school, head on over to their website to sign your child up for a free trial lesson here. Big Blue Swim School operates four year-round swim schools in the Chicago suburbs: Niles, Hoffman Estates, Wilmette, and Buffalo Grove. They also have a fifth location opening soon in Chicago’s Northcenter neighborhood.