Happy Memorial Day! Next to Christmas, this is probably one of my favorite holidays … we get to enjoy a nice long weekend, it signifies summer is here, and the weather is almost always fantastic! It’s also the weekend that most pools around town open for the season. And if you live in Charlotte, access to a pool is a MUST! Earlier in the week, Jen P did a great post on Infant Swimming Resource. I thought I’d follow that up with my pick on toddler/pre-school age swimming lessons.
Last summer, our son (then 3) was petrified to go into the “big pool”. Even with mommy and daddy by his side, he much preferred the comfort of the baby pool … which of course was not really where mom and dad wanted to spend all our time. In contrast, his 2 buddies were practically swimming circles around him. I know every kid develops differently and I actually appreciated Jake’s fear of the water, but we knew we needed to do something to build his comfort level and take swimming lessons to the next level. We had tried lessons at a couple other places but didn’t really feel like we gained much from them. His 2 friends were both attending the Little Otter Swim School and seeing great results so we thought we’d give it a try.
To date, I have been thoroughly impressed with not only their approach, but also the results we’ve seen in a rather short time. We started when Jake was 3 so I’ll give that perspective first. At 3, there are a couple different class options based on the child’s experience in the water. For both classes, the ratio is 4-1 and the parents do not get in the water with the child, but rather sit on the other side of a glass wall in the “viewing gallery” (see picture). I wasn’t sure how this would go over but it actually has been the best thing for Jake because he focuses more on the class and not clinging to mommy or daddy. The goal of the beginner class is to really get the children comfortable in the water, teach water safety, blow bubbles with their full face in the water, float on their back (with some support) and swim 5 feet on their own. The other thing I really like is that the class is not for a set number of weeks, but rather tailored to each individual child and their progression. The teacher and pool captain decide when a child is ready to move up to the next level. You pay monthly and classes are once a week for 30 minutes.
The school has over 15 different classes based on the age and experience of the child. They range from 6 months all the way up to 8 year olds. Parents do get in the water with children under the age of 3, otherwise, they observe from the viewing gallery. Once a month they have “show and tell” where they bring parents in at the end of class so the kids can show off all the great things they’ve been learning. The teachers are great and I really like the level of communication we have with them on Jake’s progress.
A couple notes on the facility … There are showers (we bring along some baby wash and jammies for our evening class and knock out bath time after the lesson), ample clean changing rooms, and even a little store stocked with swimming gear (in case you forget to pack a swim suit one day … yes that happened to us!). The other nice thing is this is solely a swimming lesson facility for children, so there is no “free play” that can distract the kids while they are trying to learn. The teachers incorporate a lot of fun things like toys and games into the lesson so the kids really have fun while they are there. We now have a child who wakes up every Tuesday morning excited because it is swimming lesson day!
Little Otter Swim School is located at 8200 Tower Point Drive, Charlotte, NC 28277.
Let us know if you have other swim schools you’ve had great success with. And Happy Memorial Day to everyone!!