Both private swim lessons and group swimming classes offer distinct advantages. Understanding those differences will help you know how to best help your swimmer meet his or her swimming goals and needs.
Advantages of Private Lessons:
Though they may cost more than a group lesson or class, private lessons are worth the investment. Private lessons are taught by experienced swim instructors who develop a lesson plan specific to your child. Lessons usually range from 30 – 45 minutes each and usually come in packages of 6-18 lessons.
The biggest benefit of private lessons is the undivided attention that a professional instructor gives your child. Having a teacher 100% dedicated to your swimmer greatly increases the rate of progress in your child’s swimming skills. When there are four or five kids in a group setting, each kid can reasonably expect to get about 20% of that instructor’s attention and around 5 minutes of swimming time. That’s only a fraction of what a kid gets in private classes. Accordingly, if you do the math, there’s a good chance that the dollar-to-minute-of-attention ratio favors private lessons. This means you might just get more bang for your buck with a private instructor!
Along with that undivided attention, your child will receive a tailor-made customized lesson plan specific to his or her needs. Every minute of every lesson is planned and designed to help meet your swimmer’s needs. That’s a recipe for success.
Additionally, every lesson will be driven by your child’s own pace and progress. There will be no pressure to “keep up” or “slow down” like in a group class. If your child needs extra time on a skill, the instructor can make it happen. If another skill clicks quickly and your child is ready to move on, the instructor can do that too. This makes the private lesson both more enjoyable and effective for your child.
Private lessons schedules are flexible! You get to schedule lessons when they work best for you rather than having to commit to an assigned group lesson time. The lesson revolves around your day and your schedule, rather than making you schedule your time around a lesson.
Furthermore, group lessons at specific levels are sometimes only offered at certain times. That could mean that if there isn’t a class available at your swimmer’s level at a time that works for you, you might be out of luck. Never a problem with private lessons; you schedule lessons when they work for you.
The location of private lessons can also be flexible. If you have something like a home pool or a private HOA community pool, you can make swim lessons come to you instead of having to go to your local pool. Otherwise, local community pools or swim schools will have the facilities for hosting private lessons but may not be as flexible on the scheduling.
Who Might Be Better Suited For Private Lessons:
- Kids who are learning how to swim: If your child has not yet learned to swim, I strongly encourage private lessons for helping your kid learn the basics. Once the fundamentals are there, you could explore group lessons, but for introductory beginner swimmers, private lessons are the way to go.
- Kids with fear or anxiety about water: If your kid is afraid of the water, the added attention and consistent support of a private instructor may be invaluable to helping your kid learn how to swim.
- Kids who struggle to focus in a louder, rowdier, group environment: If the distraction of five other kids will make it hard for your kid to focus and learn during a group lesson, you might consider a private instructor who can customize lessons to your child’s learning style.
- Kids who need more hands-on practice: If your kid learns best by getting lots of repetitions and learns at her own pace, private lessons may be a better fit.
- Kids looking for technique and stroke refinement: If your child is already a more advanced swimmer, he may get more value for stroke and technique refinement by having a dedicated instructor.
Advantages of Group Lessons:
Group lessons offer some unique advantages too. First of all, they tend to cost less than private lessons. And unlike private lessons, group lessons have the added benefit of helping kids learn social skills while also learning a life-saving one. Because of the group dynamic, there are some activities, exercises, and games that instructors can incorporate into group lessons that they can’t use in private lessons (it’s hard to play freeze tag or Marco Polo with just two people). Accordingly, group lessons are arguably more fun for most kids. Additionally, if you’re planning on signing your kid up for continuous lessons, swimmers in group lessons can make friends with whom they’ll progress through future levels or classes.
Who Might Be Better Suited For Group Lessons:
- Kids who already have the basics: If your kid is already comfortable in the pool, can put her face in the water, float, and do basics kicks and arms, she’s probably ready to keep building her skills in a group environment.
- Kids who prefer group social dynamics: Some kids do better when they’ve got peers, friends, and fellow learners to play with, learn with, and even compete with.
- Kids who are more independent learners: If your kid will be comfortable practicing and refining skills while an instructor helps another student, he’s probably ready for group lessons.
So the answer to whether your child should take private or group lessons really depends. Hopefully, these distinctions will help you make the right choice for your child’s needs, goals, and learning style. Remember, if your child does not know how to swim, the absolute best place to start and get those fundamentals is private lessons. And regardless of your child’s skill level, they can always improve. The most important thing is to get your kid in the water! So sign up for lessons and get your kid swimming today!
Briant Jacobs' bio:
Swim Instructor in Tucson, AZ
Hi there, I'm Briant and I've taught/coached swimmers of all levels from ages 2 - 65 for over 12 years. I've been a lifeguard, water safety instructor, swim instructor, and competitive swim coach. I swam competitively for 14 years and played water polo for 4. I love teaching all levels, from fearful beginners to advanced competitors. I graduated from Georgetown where I studied law. I'm also fluent in Spanish, love Ben and Jerry's, and have yet to meet a swimmer who couldn't reach their goals.