Private vs. Group Swimming Lessons: How to Choose for Your Child

Swimming lessons are an essential tool for ensuring your child’s safety in and around the water.  They can also be a lot of fun for your child if you choose the right format. Parents aren’t always aware of all their options, or they’re unsure whether private or group lessons are best. There are many opinions out there, but really, it comes down to your child’s skill level, personality, and how he or she learns best.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself, 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 consideration when choosing group or private lessons. New swimmers need to focus on survival, and group lessons are far more social than private lessons. During a private session, your child’s instructor can focus on teaching vital survival skills required for lifelong safety and enjoyment in and around the water. While fun and exciting for accomplished swimmers, group lessons tend to be noisy, chaotic, and distracting. All too often, new swimmers struggle in that environment for several sessions before learning the basics.

How Well Does Your Child Pay Attention?

You want to choose an environment where your child will learn the most they can in the time they have, and that means paying attention to the teacher from the start of the lesson until the end. 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 the better choice, especially if they’re just starting.

Does Your Child Respond to Peer Encouragement?

Group classes typically contain many children who are all at roughly the same skill level. Kids who learn well by watching their peers and 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 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, where they get to benefit from both peer encouragement and individualized interaction with their teacher.

Is Your Child Extroverted or Introverted?

This one is tricky. It might seem obvious that an extroverted child would do better in a group class, and an introverted child would thrive with a private coach. However, an extrovert surrounded by other children might be more interested in showing off or playing with their friends than learning. And an introverted child might balk at group lessons altogether. In this case, it might take some trial and error to figure out your child’s best fit. If your child can pay attention and learn their lessons, whether group or private, then they’re in the right place. If not, change it up!

How Active Is Your Child?

If your child is go-go-go all the time, they might not like the format of a group class where they’re made to wait their turn. Active children can sometimes become disruptive during group classes–which is no fault of theirs but can lead to negative experiences. A private coach can keep an active child focused throughout their entire class. However, if you have a child who needs to take frequent breaks to rest or mentally regroup, then a group 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?

Again, 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 a couple of lessons with a private coach 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–a half hour is going to cost less than an hour. Pick the duration that works for both your child and your budget.
  • Buddy up and opt for semi-private lessons so you can split the cost while still providing a controlled environment for your child.
  • Buy a private lesson package so that you save on the total cost.

Remember: Practice makes perfect! The more you practice between lessons, the faster your child will learn the survival skills they need! If you need help practicing, download the Survival Swim app. It can help you teach your child to become proficient in the water faster.

Cheat Sheet: Choose the Best Swim Lesson Format for Your Child

Choose Group Lessons If: Choose Private or Small Group Lessons If:
  • Your child can already swim and is ready for recreational swimming lessons or teams.
  • 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 budget-constrained and need the most affordable option.
  • 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 themself 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 fears 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.


Teach Your Child to Swim the Survival Swim Way

Survival Swim is a mobile private swim instruction company based in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Our trained Survival Swim Instructors provide early to advanced level swim instruction at your residence, community pools, or our “home” pool, located in Goodyear, Arizona. We teach children as young as six months old how to survive in the water, with proven techniques taught in private and semi-private settings. We have courses for infants and toddlers, children, and adults at all levels, from new beginners to competitive swimmers, and we can accommodate children with special needs.

Learn more about Survival Swim and book your lessons online.