Not every child is ready to hit the pool swimming on Day 1. Many new swimmers will have a difficult time dipping their feet into the water, let alone getting in. And in our world, initial tears aren’t always unusual.
It can be terrifying for a child to try something new for the first time, but we’ve found that the effects aren’t nearly as bad when they’re with a group of other kids. That’s why, at Goldfish, we’re big proponents of small group swim lessons (4:1 max student to teach ratio) from our Mini to Pro levels.
So what makes group lessons so special?
- Behavior modeling. If swimmers see their peers participating in a skill taught by one of our instructors, the more likely they are to join in. Just the presence of swimmers the same age can quell those butterflies. Think of it as a positive example of “peer pressure.”
- Competitive spirit. A child that might get easily distracted in an individual setting can be competitively motivated in a group. For example, maybe a child wants to be the first to capture five rings in a game of “Feeding the Turtles” (a Goldfish favorite).
- Confidence. Completing skills in the company of others can be motivation alone. When a child sees one of their peers getting better at the freestyle, the more likely they are to want to get there, too. As more skills are mastered, confidence builds. In many cases, the students will cheer each other on!
This philosophy can be applied to children of all ages, but it’s particularly impactful for 2-3 year-old who are at an important time in their development. Being around other children builds team building and social skills.
Jacqueline Roller, our Goldfish Naperville general manager, has seen measurable results with group lessons, particularly in this instance:
“I had a swimmer with Down syndrome. At first, he was not comfortable at all in the water. When he was placed into lessons with other kids, his mood changed. The ‘I can’ts,’ and ‘I won’ts’ turned into ‘I cans’ and ‘I can do it better!’”
Of course, there are cases when group lessons aren’t a best practice, such as when children with disabilities or extreme autism need that one-on-one attention. In these cases, we are committed to working with parents to ensure the best possible experience for their child.*
So, if you’re about to take Sally to her first swimming lesson and she’s a little nervous on the way, don’t worry—she’ll soon be jumping into the water without hesitation!
Want to learn more? Find out more about our swim lesson levels and how to get started at a Goldfish Swim School near you!
*While we are not certified experts in swim education specifically for children with disabilities, we are committed to working with parents to customize the best possible swim program—and experience—for their children.