First time and experienced parents both look forward to the time they can begin swim lessons with their little ones. This excitement has led to the development of parent and me classes that allow young children to become acquainted with and begin building confidence in the water.
Parent and me classes are a great resource for parents to spend time with their child as well as building their personal knowledge of the best way to help facilitate a confident swimmer. Choosing to offer a parent and me class at your home is a great idea, and with some forethought and organization your class will be one of the most desired in your locale.
How do you teach a mommy and me swim lesson? Teaching mommy and me swim lessons really comes down to preparing a good outline, and including both the parents and the children.
Developing a parent and me class course can seem a bit overwhelming but it is really filling the why, what and when questions. This article will outline the specific process you can go through to make sure that the classes you offer are going to be useful and impactful to any parent and child that enroll in your class.
This article will outline each step you should take to have a developed curriculum, but this process does not need to take hours. The more accustomed you become with the material you are teaching, the faster it will go. Experienced teachers can organize their course in as little as 10-15 minutes whereas newer teacher should be prepared to spend a little more time. Teachers who are just beginning should plan on dedicating a chunk of time in case further research is needed.
Before developing any course work, you will want to make sure to have your business organized. I have written other articles on how to create a business to be proud of. This process can seem daunting and pointless if you are just hoping to teach a parent and me class, but developing your business structure is the first step in making sure that the clients you reach begin their time with you on the right foot and have an overall good experience. Too many parents begin swim lessons frustrated or confused about what to expect or the process they need to follow to ensure a smooth experience.
Class Goals: “Why”
Once your business goals and structure are set, it is time to begin developing the curriculum for your parent and me class. Parent and me classes are more tricky to develop than other classes. This is because you have two drastically different sets of students.
Your first student is the child and your second is the parent in the water with you. Teachers often forget to plan for one of these groups, which is why parent and me swim classes often establish themselves as a glorified open swim. To avoid teaching a lack luster class, you will want to take time in your class preparation to consider the specific needs and desired outcomes for both parents and children.
The children in your class will be looking to have fun in the water. They will want to explore their abilities, play, sing songs and generally have fun. Parents, on the other hand, will most likely be looking for something more than just a good time.
If a parent has enrolled in a parent and me class, they are most likely seeking a class that will help them learn how to enhance their child’s swimming skills as well as set their child on the path of becoming a strong swimmer. Balancing the fun aspect with the educational aspect can be tricky but it doesn’t need to be.
It is easiest to organize your goals for a class in a simple list before beginning writing your curriculum.
I want Parents enrolled in my class to learn the following:
- Why floating in integral to swimming
- Proper Water Safety for ages 0-5
- Understand different life vest options
- How to properly encourage floating
- How to begin teaching forward movement
- Three games or songs to sing while swimming
- The importance of blowing bubbles
I want children in my class to learn the following:
- How to be comfortable on their back
- That they are safe and supported in the water with a parent
- That they are safe and supported in the water with a teacher
- How to blow bubbles
If you are struggling to come up with a list of goals for your class, do not just copy mine. Instead, imagine what you would say to someone if they came up to you and asked “What should I know if I want my child to be a great swimmer by the time they are 5 and how do I start?” This question usually gets your brain moving. As you begin to answer the above question, you will soon start to see your goal list fill out and sometimes require a little editing to make sure it is reasonable to accomplish in one session.
By setting specific goals for each set of students you will be teaching, you will set a road map to designing your curriculum, as well as a class schedule. The goals that I have included are just examples of what you may include, but it is in no way comprehensive of what a parent and me class can include.
As I write this, I am realizing how official and tedious this can seem for a class that is focused on infants and toddlers, but an investment in time upfront will make planning your curriculum much easier. And once you have done the leg work, you are ready to put all the pieces in place for your class.
Designing the Curriculum: “What”
Establishing your curriculum is a little different than just putting together what activities and games you plan to play during a specific lesson.
A curriculum involves choosing how you are going to best accomplish the goals you have set for your class. For example, if you are hoping parents will understand their various options of life vests as well as their pros or cons, you may choose to have different types of life vests available to parents to look at while you briefly give them an explanation of how they work, what environments each vest works best in, benefits and concerns of each vest’s impact on future swim habits and so forth.
The curriculum is the “what” portion of your lesson. The curriculum for your younger students may not be as straight forward. As an example, if you are working on your goal to have the children feel safe in the water with a teacher, you will want to spend a majority of time interacting with the students one on one. For children who struggle without mom or dad around, this may mean slowing the transition, playing more games with them individually and building trust of many lessons rather than just one, but the curriculum would be the plan you put in place to accomplish this goal.
You may become a little overwhelmed at this stage of the process because it can be difficult to come up with songs and games that fit perfectly with your goal. Every teacher should feel totally comfortable doing research and “borrowing” great ideas from others to help their class be successful.
This type of information can be found all over the entire internet (including this website specifically) but you do not need to limit your search to swim lesson ideas. Talking with teachers, coaches, and others who work with children, you will find a million ideas that can be easily adapted to work in a variety of classes. Some of my best ideas have been from games or activities meant to be played in a park not in a pool. When you feel stuck, reach out and see what you can find. Even if you don’t find the perfect answer, you will hopefully get your mind moving in a different direction.
When deciding on the specific lessons you hope to teach, it should be noted that most goals will need multiple lessons to be properly incorporated into a course for the students to truly benefit from them.
Parent and me classes are difficult because you have different student types and you will teach each set of students a different way. Parent instruction is typically more lecture based while the goals you set for the children should be taught through the activities, games and songs during the class.
Although you will mostly be talking to your parents, do not shy away from getting them involved. When teaching about floating, I will sometimes have the parents float while I support them the way I would a child. This guidance shows them how the support feels while emphasizing how much control certain holds can have on a child. Mixing the way you teach your classes is a great way to keep interest high as well as encourage interactions between parents, children and yourself.
It is important that regardless of how many classes are in the session, a student should find each and every class valuable. If you find yourself struggling to come up with a lesson for every class, you may need to revisit your goals and perhaps add a few more. It would be a very difficult and boring class to teach if you only taught how to blow bubbles.
Setting the itinerary: “When”
After you have the curriculum set, it is really just plugging into each class the specific curriculum. Setting the schedule will also include a lot more specifics about how you plan to fill your class time.
You will want to include how you plan to initially gather the group, when you plan to teach the lessons, specific songs to sing and games to play. Putting together a formal plan is always going to reflect well in your lessons and with the students.
There will be things you want to include in every class:
- Welcome Song/Activity- Help your students start off the class on the right foot. Some teachers prefer to start with parents and children sitting on the side while others prefer to let parents get in and acclimated before beginning.
- Warm-up Period- Giving your students a few minutes to play and warm up in the water will prepare them for the lessons you prepared. As you get further into your session and the kids become more accustomed to the water, you may not need as much warm-up time for your students.
- Lesson/Circle Time- This is the time in which you present any formal lessons you have. You may want to include more than just your lesson, such as a time for parents to introduce themselves, a question and answer portion, singing a few songs, reviewing previous materials, or following up on any previous concerns parents have.
- Free Play- Children are meant to play, explore and experience life and the best way to do that is give them time, toys and attention to experience the water. Although this is a free time, you will want to spend time with each child working on skills you have introduced and following up with the parents about their individual concerns or questions.
- Safety Moment- You may decide to separate out the lessons you are teaching into segments so as to not overwhelm parents with information. It may be worth it to take 5 minutes at the end of class to address a specific safety concern. Some locales will have more safety lessons to teach depending on how much exposure your location has to residential pools, ocean exposure, lake exposure and so forth.
- Closing Activity or Song- This is your last chance to gather as a class and reaffirm the lessons you have taught.
- Jumps- The vast majority of kids I have taught love closing out the class jumping into the water. You may decide it doesn’t fit in with your curriculum and that is perfectly fine. In a parent and me class, it can be fun to to include the parents in this and have the kids jump to the parents.
After you set the schedule for your class it is time to fill in the blanks for each individual class.
As an example lets use the following schedule:
- Welcome Song (3 minutes)
- Warm Up (3 minutes)
- Lesson (8 minutes)
- Free Time (10 minutes)
- Safety Moment (3 minutes)
- Closing Song and Jumps (3 minutes)
Using a schedule like this, you are now prepared to plan what songs and topics you plan to cover in each specific class. Using this schedule you will want to fill in the blanks.
Class One Schedule:
- Welcome Song: Hello Children
- Warm Up: Have Squirt Toys available
- Song: Do as I’m Doing
- Lesson: Blowing Bubbles
- Game: Hokey Pokey
- Free Time: Have straws, cups and kickboards available
- Safety Moment: Water Access for Infants
- Closing Song and Jumps: Goodbye, Children
You may choose to make your lesson plans more detailed than I have shown. It is better to add more detail if this is the first time you are teaching the class so you make sure to cover all the material you had hoped to cover. If you have taught a Parent and Me class several times it will still help prepare you for this session to write out your thoughts and plans to make sure you do not forget anything or miss out on creating great teaching moments and experiences for your clients.
Teaching a mommy and me swim lesson is all about preparation. Putting together lesson plans is one of my favorite part of teaching because I love seeing how I plan to incorporate my love of swimming into each and every lesson I teach. I have taught many lessons with no plan and often find them to be lack luster. When I take twenty to thirty minutes to plan the curriculum for a session, it allows me to mentally prepare for the classes ahead and become excited for the experiences I am about to create!
- How long should a swim lesson be? Most swim lessons are typically 25 minutes to 1 hour in length. For a complete guide on swim lesson length, read here.
- How much money can you make teaching swim lessons at home? Providing swim lessons can yield an income of anywhere between $20 per hour to $120 per hour, or even more. For an analysis of all the factors, go to this article.