5 Things To Look For When Choosing Swim Lessons

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.

Experienced Instructors

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.

Our Experience At Big Blue Swim School

This post is sponsored by Big Blue Swim School and The Motherhood.

One thing that is really important to me is that my boys learn how to swim, so they’ve taken years of swim lessons. I’ve tried out at least a dozen different places, from park districts to swim schools to gym pools to highschools that hire student teachers, so I feel we have kind of tried it all and have discovered what works, and what doesn’t work, when it comes to swim lessons for my family. Recently we tried swim lessons at Big Blue Swim School and I was really happy with our experience there so I wanted to share about it because it checks so many of my boxes when it comes to what I want a swim school to have.

Big Blue Swim School operates four year-round swim schools in the Chicago suburbs: Niles, Hoffman Estates, Wilmette, and Buffalo Grove. We visited the Hoffman Estates location for our swim lesson and a tour of the facility. There are three main things that set Big Blue apart from other swim schools- their teachers, the flexibility they offer, and the quality of their facilities.

Big Blue Swim School is the only swim-lesson provider that exclusively hires and trains full-time teachers. They also have weekly training which I thought was a great idea because a more consistent and better-trained teacher will always give a better experience. What I liked most about their staff was how they all interacted with the students. It wasn’t just the swim teacher in the water with the child but I felt like the staff worked as a team to teach the children. Throughout the lesson the pool supervisor would come and offer tips to the child based on what he was seeing from the pool deck because it’s a different angle than their swim instructor sees. They also all seemed to encourage the kids and they would call out with words of encouragement when a child was doing a great job which I loved. Overall, the whole team seemed to enjoy their job and it showed through their interactions with each other and with the children.

As a mom, I think my favorite thing about Big Blue is how convenient scheduling is for busy families. They offer more lesson times than any other swim school and they have built their own proprietary software platform that allows families to choose a lesson time that works for all their kids with one click. This means families don’t have to make multiple trips to the pool just because siblings were unable to find a time where they could both swim. The software also allows families to log into their account from any device and track their kid’s progress, move their lesson times, schedule FREE make-up lessons, add additional lessons, and update personal information in just a few easy clicks.

Best of all, you aren’t locked in to a certain day and time which is great when children’s sports and activity schedules change with the seasons. This has been the biggest problem I’ve had with other swim lessons because it was so hard to move to a different schedule when baseball season turned to basketball season and what worked for the previous schedule did not for our new one. Big Blue Swim School really goes above and beyond to make things as convenient as possible for parents!

In addition to a great staff and convenient scheduling, Big Blue Swim School has nice facilities that are clean and family-friendly. They have spacious individual changing rooms which parents of multiple little children will appreciate. The floors are carpeted with a special fall-proof, anti-microbial carpet to keep kids from slipping on wet floors. They also have a viewing area where parents can sit in a comortable atmosphere and watch the lesson. Big Blue provides free WIFI for parents, plus toys and activities for siblings waiting with their parents.

The swimming pool area is nice as well. The pools are shallow and have an open design, allowing swimmers to get in and out with ease. Kids will enjoy the warm, 90-degree water that is gentle on their skin. Big Blue pools also have saline systems and ultra-violet filtration which provide a state-of-the-art defense against waterborne illnesses and harsh chemicals.

Overall, my kids and I loved our experience at Big Blue Swim School. If you are near one of their locations I encourage you to go in for a free trial lesson and check it out. There is no registration fee for swim lessons and, if you sign up now, Big Blue is offering six swim lessons for $60 when you sign up for weekly lessons – a discount of more than 50% on standard prices. You can learn more and sign up for your free trial lesson here.

Do your children take swim lessons?

Swim Lessons At British Swim School

Did you know that the number one cause of death for children five years old and younger is drowning? Children with Autism are even more likely to drown, a chilling fact that I’m well aware of as a mother of a child on the Autism Spectrum. I’ve done everything I can to protect my kids and help them learn to swim, enrolling them in numerous swim lessons since they were young. My boys have taken swim lessons at swim schools, at our gym’s pool, through a couple different park districts and at our local high school. When British Swim School asked me if I’d like to try swim lessons there I jumped at the chance to test them out. They are providing complimentary lessons for my children in exchange for me sharing my honest opinion about their swim school.

Last month they started taking the lessons at British Swim School. This swim school has franchise locations across the United States, with a number of locations right here in the Chicago area. They use pools at gyms and other facilities which helps keep the costs lower for parents. Classes are offered for babies as young as 3 months through adults, all separated by age and skill. Instructors work on everything from helping children feel comfortable in the water to water survival skills like floating to different swim strokes.

We are loving our lessons at British Swim School so far and I’ve seen both boys’ skills improve in just four sessions. Their instructor does a great job of keeping the attention of my boys and is very patient with them. I love that he works on skills with them that have been glossed over during their lessons at other places. Things like making sure Jake’s arms brush his ears so he gets the full power of the stroke while he is swimming freestyle and making sure Luke’s pushing his tummy towards the ceiling when he’s working on his float.

My boys are excited to go to swim lessons which means that they enjoy it as much as I like watching them. They love the last five minutes of lessons because it’s “play” time. While they just see it as fun, they are really still learning skills like treading water and holding their breath as they go under to retrieve a toy from the bottom of the pool.

Here’s a video showing some of Luke’s progress. Lucas couldn’t swim on his own at all before we started the lessons and now he can swim to the edge of the pool which is great progress.

Want to enroll your children in swim lessons at British Swim School? There are around 25 locations in the Chicago area including Alsip, Schaumburg, Matteson, Lincoln Park, Tinley Park, Waukegan and the Loop. Find the location closest to you and learn more here.

WIN FREE LESSONS!

I’m offering two readers a month of free group lessons!

Valid at the following Illinois locations: Tinley Park, Alsip, Matteson, Waukegan and Round Lake Beach

TO ENTER:

Leave a comment on this post telling me why you want to win.

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Giveaway ends June 15, 2016 at 11:59pm CST.

First Swim Lessons At Goldfish Swim School

(Disclosure: My boys are receiving free lessons at Goldfish Swim School but all thoughts are my own.)

My boys started swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School last week. I was really excited to check out the facilities and get the boys back in the water swimming.

Goldfish Swim School is definitely a happy place to be! Look at all the bright colors and fun murals on the walls.

The viewing area for the parents is even fun.

Arriving early is no problem because there is plenty to keep the kids occupied while they wait for their lessons to start.

I like that Goldfish Swim School has small class sizes. My boys class size will never be more than 4 kids to 1 instructor. Also, the water is always nice and warm at 90 degrees. Cold water was one of the things that Jacob hated at other swim lessons. We won’t have that problem at Goldfish!

There was also someone doing assessments of the children while they were swimming and at the end of the lessons we were able to see how where they were at skill-wise. The boys even got ribbons and balloons to celebrate their first lesson. What a nice treat for the kids!

After lessons we headed into private changing rooms to get out of the bathing suits. There is also a hair drying station which will be nice when it’s cold outside and I don’t want to bring the boys outside with wet hair. Goldfish Swim School seems to have thought of it all.

Overall, the boys loved their first lessons at Goldfish Swim School. We can’t wait to go back next week and continue to learn how to swim.