Well to be honest, it really depends on the child…. I know that is something that is said so often that is sounds like the stock answer a teacher gives when they don’t want to commit to something, but in this instance, it couldn’t be more true.
Like anything in life, swimming is about getting all those developmental things in turn and inline… in order to walk properly; one needs balance, cognitive thought, strength and of course timing (co-ordination). These skills come with time, and for young children, at different rates. Swimming is very similar, except, it is a “learnt” skill, i.e. something that needs to be taught no matter how naturally it may come. So in answer to the question “When is my child ready for 1-2-1’s”, well, when their co-ordination, motor skills, strength and most importantly when their ability to follow instruction and concentration allows them to.
A 1-2-1 swimming lesson is normally a short, intensive session where just the student and teacher are in the pool. The reason the lesson is usually quite short (around 15 minutes) is because young children are only able to concentrate for short periods at a time. Group lessons are great to get your Little Swimmer confident in the water and to be able to propel themselves through the water, but the 1-2-1’s lessons, teach the fundamental techniques of swimming and to introduce strokes. This is where your Little Swimmer will learn to swim “pretty”…
It’s a great way to build up your child’s confidence whilst developing their individual ability. By taking your Little Swimmer for a 1-2-1 lesson, the teacher is able to focus on his/her unique capabilities and work at their own pace. It removes the pressure of being in a class situation and allows the teacher to solely focus on your child give 100% attention and adapting the lesson to what your Little Swimmer will need at that moment. It also means progression can be faster as the lesson plans and exercises can hone in on specific requirements and skills.
We start looking to put our Little Swimmers on the “Learn to Swim” 1-2-1 program at around 3 years old. Before 3, we find that the group classes are more suited (and effective) as they are very interactive and playful, whilst also introducing the right amount of competition and learning from peers, all at the same time. In our group classes, our Beginner Toddlers learn the beauty of swimming through play with the comforting knowledge that either Mom or Dad has joined them in the pool.
Before the age of 3 Little Swimmers are less likely to follow instruction and therefore will tend to participate less and hamper their progress. Between the ages of 3 & 4, a child’s cognitive and physical development makes teaching them strokes etc. significantly easier. They become taller due to greater growth in their legs and this in turn helps create a horizontal body position in the water. This enables them to kick better and propel themselves forward, successfully achieving front and back floating. In turn their cognitive development enables the teacher to introduce the strokes and work on refinement as they grow and develop.
As we have mentioned, each child is unique and grows and develops at his/her own pace, so ask your teacher for advice and feedback as to how your child is progressing rather than expecting Rome to be built in one day… But remember, your little one is unique, so be sure to do what is best for them.