Should my child take group swim lessons or private swim lessons?

Swim lessons at Holland Aquatic Center are an essential tool for ensuring your child’s safety in and around water. Swim lessons can also be a lot of fun for your child if you choose the right format for him/her! Parents and guardians aren’t always aware of all their options, and sometimes they’re unsure whether private swim lessons or group swim lessons are best. There are many opinions, but really, it comes down to your child. What are their skill level, personality, and learning style? Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering swim lessons in Holland, Michigan, along with suggestions and guidance to help you choose.

Is your child a new swimmer?

This question comes first because it’s the most important factor to consider when deciding between group swim lessons and private swim lessons. New swimmers need to focus on survival skills, and group lessons are far more social than private lessons. During a private swim lesson, your child’s instructor can focus on teaching vital survival skills required for lifelong safety and enjoyment in and around water. While they can be fun and exciting for accomplished swimmers, group swim lessons can be noisy, chaotic, and distracting for those new to the water. Some children might struggle in that environment for several sessions before learning the basics.

How well does your child pay attention?

You will want to choose an environment where your child will learn the most they can in the time they have. That means paying attention to the teacher from beginning to end of the lesson. If your child is an attentive student, they will probably do well in a group lesson. However, if your child is easily distracted, an individual coach’s personalized attention might be a better choice.

Does your child respond well to peer encouragement?

Group swim lessons typically take place in small groups of children roughly at the same ability level. Kids who learn well by watching their peers; emulating their behaviors sometimes do better in group classes. However, if your child feels intimidated by others or gets caught up in negatively comparing themselves to those who learn faster, private swim lessons are your better option. Putting your child into a small group with a private instructor can also be a “best of both worlds” scenario, because they will benefit from both peer encouragement and individualized interaction with their teacher.

Is your child extroverted or introverted?

It is easy to assume that an extroverted child would do better in a group class, and an introverted child would thrive in a one-on-one setting. However, an extrovert surrounded by other children might be more interested in showing off or playing with friends than learning. An introverted or shy child may be overwhelmed by the direct one-to-one attention at first. It may take some trial and error to figure out your child’s best fit. If your child can pay attention and learn their lessons, whether in a group or private setting, then they are in the right place. If not, then it might be time to change it up!

How active is your child?

If your child has seemingly endless energy, they may not enjoy the format of a group class where they are made to wait their turn. Active children can sometimes become disruptive during group classes, which is no fault of their own, but can lead to negative experiences for them and for the other children. A private swim lesson coach can keep an active child focused throughout the entire class. However, if you have a child who needs to take frequent breaks to rest or mentally regroup, a group swim lesson class offers those natural pause points. A private coach can also work with your child to make sure that they get the breaks they need, but typically private sessions are more active from start to finish.

Is your child afraid of the water?

It might seem that a fearful child would do better with private instruction. However, for some children, peer encouragement can play an instrumental role in overcoming their fears. Seeing other kids their age swimming proficiently can give them the confidence they need to try it out. However, that strategy can also backfire, causing your child to feel intimidated or embarrassed around kids who take to the water quickly. For a timid learner, a private or small group setting might be a better option. A private instructor can use known and proven methods to help your child gain confidence and learn those crucial skills.

What is your budget?

Practically speaking, money matters. However, your child’s needs are also important, especially for new swimmers learning survival skills. If you’re leaning toward private lessons, but you feel like you can’t afford it, we have a few tips that can help. For example, you can:

  • Sign your child up for just a few private lessons to start, and set the expectation that they will “graduate” to a group once they’ve learned the survival aspects of swimming.
  • Choose shorter private lessons! 30 minutes will cost less than 60 minutes. Pick the duration that works for both your child and your budget.
  • Buy a private lesson package so that you can save a few dollars on the total cost.

Remember: Practice makes perfect! The more your child practices between lessons, the faster they will learn those basic survival skills they need.

CHEAT SHEET: Choose the best swim lesson format for your child!

Choose group lessons if:

  • Your child can already swim.
  • Your child can pay attention to a teacher in a noisy and distracting environment.
  • Your child thrives in environments where they learn from their peers.
  • Your child can wait patiently while taking turns without disrupting the class.
  • You are limited by budget and need the most affordable option.

Choose private/semi-private lessons if:

  • Your child is a beginner who needs to focus on the basics and learn survival skills.
  • Your child is easily distracted by noise, movement, or activity around them.
  • Your child might negatively compare him/herself to others and become discouraged or embarrassed.
  • Your child is prone to distraction or disruption if they have to wait between turns.
  • Your child struggles with their fear of the water in a group setting regardless of peer encouragement.
  • Your budget allows for some or all of your child’s swimming instruction to be conducted privately.