One of the most daunting parts of swim lessons for me was developing the swim lesson. Developing an effective swim program is difficult, especially when deciding how long the lessons you offer are going to be. There are a lot of factors to consider before making the final decision on what would be the ideal length for the lessons you offer. As you develop your own swim program you can use the recommendations discussed here to help guide not only the length of you lessons, but also the material you hope to cover and the strides you hope to make throughout your teaching career.
How long should a swim lesson be? Most swim lessons are typically 25 minutes to 1 hour in length, but the best length for your lessons really depends on the type of lessons you are offering, what you hope to accomplish, the age of children you are teaching, and your desired profitability.
The Type of Swim Lessons Impacts the Length of the Lesson
As you are developing your swim program, you hopefully have a methodology of how you expect your students to learn. The method you choose to use to teach can vary widely from a free range lesson, where your students learn concepts loosely while playing games and other activities throughout the class, to a highly structured class which demands a high level of concentration and commitment from your students.
The reason this matters when determining the ideal length of the swim lesson is due to the ability of a child to stay motivated during that time. A child who is being taught through play will be able to endure a longer lesson, as it will be filled with games and activities. These games and activities will help the child forget that they are acquiring new skills and make the process much more light-hearted.
Classes that have a stricter format can be taxing on young minds and bodies. For these classes, a shorter class time could be beneficial. Although the shorter class time seems counterproductive, it will allow a child to really focus and be successful for the entire lesson. This will also help provide them with the endurance to try difficult tasks without battling fatigue.
One teacher, who specialized in survival swim lessons, understood that her particular curriculum was very intense. She filled her classes with challenging tasks which required a lot of repetition. This format did not make for the most enjoyable class experience for her student, which is why she decided to make her swim lessons only 10 minutes in length.
Knowing that her lessons demanded a lot mentally, as well as physically, for her students, she cut the time down to a length where they could be successful without being overwhelmed. Instead of a one or two week session, she would have 4 weeks of daily lessons. This is an extreme example of using your curriculum to determine the best length of lesson, but it is a perfect example of matching your teaching to the length of the lessons to help determine what would best set up you and your students for success.
The Expectations of what will be Accomplished will Impact the Length of your Swim Lessons
The reason anyone should begin teaching in any capacity is to help students grow in skill and knowledge. It is this drive that should push a swim instructor to set personal goals for each students as well as their program overall.
Obviously, each student is different, but striving to meet a specific standard, such as new students being able to swim across a pool by the end of the first session, helps maintain high standards, motivates you to push further and guide the lessons you teach students.
These goals will contribute to your class length by giving you insight into how much time you will need to accomplish your goal. If your goal as a swim teacher is to have first time students swimming across the pool after their first session and your swim program is less rigid, you will require either a longer class period or a longer session length. As mentioned in my previous example, teachers very rigorous program lead to shorter classes, but a longer session length. Depending on what you hope to accomplish, you can change your class and session length to make that goal a reality.
The Age of your Students will Impact the Length of Swim Lessons
One of the greatest factors that will contribute to the length of your swim lessons is how old the child is that you are swimming with. Older children will be able to handle a lot more instruction, but exactly how old and how much more are we talking about?
Children who are under the age of 3 are most likely not receiving a ton of “strict” instruction which means that most of their learning will be done through games, song and play. Since this type of instruction takes longer it is reasonable for a class to be 25-30 minutes in length.
For a child who is 3-4 years old there will be some formal instruction going. Children at this age are ready to be challenged with specific skills and their lesson should incorporate that. 3-4 year olds are still young so it is common for many teachers to provide a class which is a mixture of games and songs as well as technical instruction. For classes that mix both skills set a 25-30 minute class is appropriate.
If you plan to provide a more rigorous course for this age, you will want to substantially decrease the time. For classes that are strict, challenging and demanding, you may want to decrease the class length to as little as ten-fifteen minutes. Ten minutes may not seem like enough time to accomplish much but when little bodies become fatigued, they are not really able to obtain much more.
When you begin teaching school-age children, you are able to increase the time of your lessons. School age children are used to being challenged daily, so a 30-45 minute lesson would not be unreasonable. When you get to this point, you will want to evaluate your curriculum and make sure that a longer class will still be valuable.
If you do not plan on introducing substantial amounts of information each class, a shorter class might still be more suitable. Once a child is school aged, it really depends how proficient they are when determining the lesson length. For proficient swimmers focusing on endurance, swim lessons could extend up to an hour, whereas school age children who struggle with the basics will only be able to handle a 30 minute lesson.
Your Desired Profitability will Impact the Length of your Swim Lessons
When you are deciding how long to offer lessons for you will want to consider your bottom line. Although this will not be your main concern, it may influence your perspective. If you have a large client base, but a short period of time that you are able to offer lessons, shorter lessons will let you accommodate more children.
Offering shorter lessons may mean an inability to charge as much for lessons, so if your client base is smaller it would be beneficial to offer longer lessons at a higher cost. The reason profitability is the last consideration on this list is because it should not make this decision for you. Profitability is best used to guide whatever decision you are leaning towards or possibly decide between two lengths you are considering.
Choosing the best lesson length for your swim course or even your child’s lessons can be a simple process but it is not without concerns. To offer the best product to your clients, taking some time to consider your program, the expectations you set for your students, the age of your students as well as the profitability that will yield from various lesson lengths will help set you up for success.
How much should you charge for swim lessons? There is no standard price, but private instructors typically charge $10-30 per half hour. Considerations that determine the price include the location in which you live length of the lessons, session length, experience as well as size of the class. For a detailed guide, check out this article.
What should you teach during a first swim lesson? The first swim lesson with a new student should begin with an assessment of basic skills. The skills most specifically needed are:
- blowing bubbles,
- submerging underwater,
- floating, and
Check out this guide for more information on what you should teach during the first swim lesson.