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8 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Swim School for your Child
PHOTO BY @shironosov/iStock
  • Much like anything else, not all swim schools are made equal, but it doesn’t mean that one is a cut above the rest. Here are the questions to ask yourself (and the swim school, of course!) when choosing for your child: 

    Is there a program that caters to my child’s age? 
    While most swim schools accept children as young as 6 months old, it’s best to manage your expectations. Nathalie Tan, a teacher of the My Baby and Me Program with the Bert Lozada Swim School and a mom of three, says, “Exposing a child to a swimming program at an early age not only helps him become familiar with the skills needed to swim independently, but also contributes to his cognitive and socio-emotional development.” 

    How involved must a parent be during the class? 
    Babies and toddlers will definitely need a parent or trusted adult in the water with them, but ask the swim instructor beforehand what kind of assistance the child will need when you’re in the water with them. Nadia Goloy-Agbayani, a swimming instructor and mom of 1, says, “During the first day of swim classes, parents should expect the child to be nervous. It is not uncommon for a child to shed a tear or two since the child is in a different atmosphere, with so many new faces, and without mommy or daddy, but they do come around as they continue their sessions.”

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    How many students will there be in one class, and how many teachers? 
    Most swim schools keep their student-to-teacher ratio relatively small, but it’s best to check, especially if it’s going to be your child’s first time to take a class and you think he’ll need more attention. Mom Nathalie says, “As a parent, I appreciate my kids’ teachers for trying to establish a personal connection with us—me and the kids—and provide feedback about their progress. In turn, I try to do the same with my students and their parents.” 


    What is the school’s method of teaching? 
    Beyond checking the swim instructors’ credentials, each swim school has a different method of teaching. Some swim schools use kickers and floaters when teaching, others use toys and say no to floatation devices, while some are more rigorous than others. Go through each swim school’s method of teaching to see which one you’re comfortable with, and which one you think your child will respond to the best. Mom Nadia adds, “A child's progress will depend on how they can adapt with everything that is happening around them.”

    What can I expect my child to learn by the end of the class? 
    Some classes will simply be teaching your child to be calm and relaxed in the water, while some classes will end with your child knowing how to jump into the water, swim a few meters, even dive underwater—it all depends on the school’s age-appropriate program and your child’s willingness. Mom Nadia says, “The ideal age to start formal and a more structured swim class is at the age of 4 years old, since children at this age are thought to be developmentally ready, and could easily adapt and follow instructions given to them.”

    Is the location safe and sanitary? 
    If you’re not familiar with the location and haven’t been to the swimming pool in a while, it’s best to check out the location yourself before committing to a series of classes. Check for any signs of wear and tear of the pool tiles and of the surrounding areas, if the water is clean and free of debris, and ask about how often they clean the pool. 

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    What do other parents have to say about it? 
    Never underestimate the power of word of mouth, especially from other parents! Ask about their experiences with their swim school of choice, and what made they liked about it. They might just share something that will make or break your decision!

    Is the travel time and schedule manageable? 
    Let’s face it—traffic is the enemy of all. Consider how much time you’ll be spending on the road to and from swimming class, if it fits your child’s schedule as well as your own, and if it’s worth the time and effort. But, don’t choose a swim school purely based on its proximity to your home, either—the school’s method of teaching must be your top priority!

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