Top Swim Lesson Mistakes

“Sunday Funday” has taken on a whole new meaning in our house, and it is all because of Big Blue Swim School.  My formerly timid little boys have come out of their shells and are making many great advances like floating on their backs, being brave enough to submerge themselves in water, and just plain enjoying swimming.  It is such a turn around from a few months ago when they were enrolled in different swim classes; we were clearly making some swim lesson mistakes.


Owner Chris DeJong knows exactly what I am talking about, which is why he so graciously offered to write this helpful and informative post for parents looking into swim schools.  Chris has taken his wealth of swimming experience, which includes being a 5 time U.S. National Champion and a former American record holder in the 800 yard freestyle relay, among many other accolades, and co-founded Big Blue Swim School to share his knowledge and love of swimming with families across Chicagoland.


The Top 8 Mistakes You’re Making with Your Child’s Swim Lessons

Swim lessons are a fun way for your kids to stay active all year round. Swim instruction has changed a lot since you were a kid, so follow these tips to make sure you’re getting the best possible experience for you and your family.

  1. Safety

A lifeguard should be present at all times during swim lessons. Lifeguard-certified swim instructors are not enough. A lifeguard, in addition to your child’s instructor, should be watching over everyone’s safety. If a swim instructor becomes distracted then a second set of eyes needs to be ready to spot an unsafe situation.

  1. Instructors

Part-time, underpaid, and undertrained instructors with poor attendance are far too common. Ask about your swim-lesson provider’s instructors. Professional, adult instructors who earn health insurance are going to give your child the kind of experience they deserve.

  1. Class Size

Beginners (typically 3-5 year olds) should be in a class with no more than three swimmers per instructor. Older swimmers should still be in class no larger than four to seven swimmers per instructor. You want to ensure your little one will get enough attention from his or her teacher.

  1. Progress

Progress in swim lessons is difficult to predict, but if you’re not seeing results after three months then it’s time to move on. Be sure to choose a program that allows you to easily track your child’s progress. A real-time, online progress tracker as well as frequent conversations with your instructor are a must.

  1. Flexibility

Don’t let yourself get locked into a progress-killing session. You want your kids to be able to move up to their next level as soon as they are ready. Year-round, continuous programs that let you start and stop at your convenience are best for your schedule and ideal for your child’s progress.

  1. Make-Up Lessons

Eventually other commitments will come up, and you will miss a class. If your provider does not allow you to make up your class with another free class then not only will your cost per lesson go through the roof, but your child’s progress will suffer.  It’s not unreasonable for you to expect your provider to put your child’s progress before their policies.

  1. Cost

A good swim lesson should last at least 30 minutes and cost a little over $20. However, many providers charge you unnecessary fees like registration fees, yearly membership fees, facility fees which can really add up. The fees are completely unnecessary no matter what they might tell you. A fairly priced, no-fee program that is not all about making money is what’s best for your child.

  1. Facility

Choose a provider with a facility solely dedicated to teaching children how to swim. You want a pool with crystal clear water that is kept over 90 degrees. Some pools may claim to use less chlorine because their pool is salt water, however the state of Illinois requires pools, even salt water ones, to maintain chlorine levels of 2.0 to 4.0 parts per million.


Big Blue Swim School is offering a FREE SWIM CLASS to my readers.  Simply call up either the Wilmette location at 847.729.7665 or the Buffalo Grove location at 847.904.1270 and be sure to mention the code “TWIGSNBERRIES” to receive your free class.
Happy Swimming!
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  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says

    Lucky for me, my boys are both self taught, so I never had to put them in for lessons, but I would think a well trained instructor would be KEY!

  2. Ourfamilyworld says

    These are great tips. I enrolled my kids in swimming lessons when they were young and thankfully, they learned fast, the instructors were good and the facilities were great.

  3. Wendy says

    Swimming is one of the best exercises and so much fun. It is so important to get kids early and taught well. Looks like this is a great class.

  4. Liz Mays says

    This is such an important thing to teach the kids. It’s so good to know that the facility and the water are safe and the instructors are well-trained.

  5. Dawn McAlexander says

    I think that swimming lessons are very important for young kids. It is very important that they learn properly, however. Not just anyone can teach swimming lessons. You have a good list to go by here.

    • amandasimkin says

      Thankfully Chris DeJong has such great experience with swimming so he had tons of great ideas to share.

  6. Uplifting Families says

    These are excellent tips. When I did some swimming safety a few years ago, it said kids who have swim lessons are less likely to drown in the event they fall into a pool. The kids who have had lessons often don’t panic and can swim to safety. This doesn’t mean that you should let your child swim alone though. Safety first.

  7. Rebecca Swenor says

    This is a great post for parents indeed looking to get their children swimming lessons. Swimming is a wonderful way for children to get exercise and learning to swim can safe their life. Big Blue Swim School sounds like an amazing place to bring the kids for lessons. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Bonnie @ wemake7 says

    I really have to get my kiddos into a swim class this year. Thanks for sharing this. Great information.

  9. lisa @bitesforbabies says

    What an interesting and helpful post! My 4 year old is taking lessons right now…the hard part was trying to get him into the water, lol! Weird because we spend our summers in Italy on the beach and he is no stranger to water!

    • amandasimkin says

      My boys were the same way…loved playing in water but were terrified of our previous swim lessons. Switching to a better and more qualified swim program really helped improve our situation. Now my boys love swim lessons.

    • amandasimkin says

      It is awesome you were able to pass along your skills. Since I am not a great swimmer, I love that I can rely on Big Blue.

  10. Rosey says

    We’ve gone through two entire classes and still have more to learn. My son’s being slow about it, but I know he’ll get it. I am though, considering changing where he gets his lessons for the next session.

    • amandasimkin says

      Hopefully these tips will help drive your decision for the best place for you and your family.

  11. ricci says

    This is such a great post!! I was a lifeguard for a few summers and we gave swimming lessons and I can’t stress enough the importance of everyone learning at least the basics. You never know when you may need to have that skill.

  12. Pauline C. says

    I am also thinking of putting my kids under a well-trained swimming instructor. Everybody has to know how to swim!

    • amandasimkin says

      You are right, everyone needs to learn. But even better, everyone needs to learn in a great environment. I didn’t, which is why I am not a very good swimmer. And I’m happier sitting by the pool with a book. 😉

  13. Jeanine says

    My kiddos were in swimming lessons the last 2 summers. We didn’t sign up this summer because we are moving, but will put them back in during the fall. It’s so important! Water and water related accidents are so common and so scary!

  14. CourtneyLynne says

    Ahhhh living in a smallish area I can totally agree with instructors! Sometimes highly qualified people just aren’t available so they hire anyone who took a class -_- not exactly the most comforting thing you wanna hear.

    • amandasimkin says

      You hit the nail on the head, girl! That’s why I’m so happy that our instructors are so well trained. Such a great peace of mind for moms like myself!

  15. Chrystal | Nevermore Lane says

    I grew up around pools and lakes. Never had any lessons. Kiddo is the same. Her grammie has a pool and shes been in it just about every day all summer long since she was born. These are great tips for those who take a class. I guess we just never saw a need to take them.

    • amandasimkin says

      I always like to err on the side of caution, which is why swim schools like Big Blue are so successful.

  16. Digna says

    I am lucky. My hubby taught our daughters and son how to swim. He is a very good swimmer. One less thing I had to worry about.

  17. Lisa Bristol says

    These are great tips for swimming lessons. I will have to share this with my friend. She is about to put her kids into swimming lessons.

  18. Krystal says

    We are heading to swim lessons this summer. We have to pick a facility though. They have swimming lessons at a local water park and also at an aquatic center. Just have to pick!

  19. Lisa Rios says

    Very timingly post indeed. I am already looking for a best swimming class for my kids for this summer vacation. These are all great tips about swim lessons and it is going to be very helpful to everyone. Thanks a lot for sharing this great information.

  20. Melody says

    Great tips! This is making me think of how many people were actually in my class when took swimming lessons. I believe the class was actually pretty large.

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