A question that I get asked all the time is “What should I look for in a swim program?” The answer is fairly simple. A swim program needs to be focused on water safety and have instructors that love kids, love water, and love to swim.
These characteristics need to be present in any program that is going to be considered in the running for somewhere I would take my child. A good way to figure out if the program has these things is by observing the lessons and asking yourself (or the director) the following questions:
Checklist of questions to ask
- Is safety the number one priority (even over fun)?
- Is my child being watched by someone at all times?
- Do the instructors talk about safety with the kids and how to get help if it’s needed?
- Are the teachers great with kids?
- Do they greet them with a smile and by name?
- Are they as excited about the small steps the kids are making as the kids themselves?
- Are the teachers experienced?
- Do the instructors obviously love to teach?
- Does the program have a training that the teachers must go through prior to teaching on their own regardless of the instructor’s past swim experience?
- Are the ratios appropriate to the level of the children in the class?
- If my child is small and a non-swimmer, are they going to be left unattended for extended periods of time or ignored for minutes on end?
- If my child is older and more capable, are they going to get challenged and exposed to a more structured team environment?
One thing that I have learned from being in the Aquatics industry for as long as I have is that swim instructors can be taught and coached on how to teach someone else to swim very easily if they have the basics already down, but they can’t be taught how to be patient, kind, and welcoming. Of course I want my child’s swim instructor to have experience and to have a great wealth of knowledge, but if my child can’t connect with them, they aren’t going to learn from them.
Instructor training is key
Something I take pride in at Cornerstone is that all of our instructors participate in a three-part in-house training – so that the curriculum is consistent from class to class, and so that we are sure that prior to teaching on their own our instructors are prepped and ready to handle anything. Our instructors are genuinely excited to be here and love to teach and they love to build relationships with the kids and families that go beyond being a swim instructor.
For example, we have a student who comes in while her mom does her work out and always asks if her “best friend” is here. Our ratios are very small for the younger groups and we slowly incorporate more kids into the lesson format as the students become more confident so that stepping from our program to a swim team is easier and less of a culture shock.
Safety’s first with both instructors and lifeguards
We take the safety of our students very seriously. Recently I was reminded that while taking swim lessons is an important step towards water safety, the only way to prevent tragedy is by supervising water activities which is why we have a lifeguard on staff and on deck at all times. The lifeguard is constantly and consistently watching our lessons and checking in with any children that might need assistance. In addition, the swim instructors make safety a primary skill that is taught and repeated throughout all levels of our lessons.
We teach children how to climb out of the pool by themselves as soon as they are physically capable of doing so, we teach them who the lifeguard is and that they should never enter water without a grownup or in the case of an older child without the supervision of a grownup. We teach them to float on their fronts and on their backs as quickly as possible. We want to know that any child who takes lessons with us will have the basic knowledge of how to be safe around water when they leave our program.
Nurturing the love of swim
Last, but not least, is fun. We want to develop and nurture the passion that any child has for swim. Whether it’s because they would like to make swimming their sport or if it’s just so that they can enjoy rec swim with their friends at the local pool, we want to share our passion for swim with the children in our community. Swimming is such an amazing activity and can be used in such a variety of ways, who wouldn’t want to learn to swim?
Check out more about our programs
The Aquatic Program at Cornerstone Clubs offers swim lessons for kids year-round at our Warrington location. In addition to our safety-first attitude, our swim lessons feature a comfortable learning environment with the lowest teacher-to-swimmer ratios in the area. Check our web page often for the best of kids swimming programs in Bucks County – our fall offerings will be posted soon.