Why We Want Parents on the Pool Deck

As a rule, students do better in school when they have parents who are engaged. This is true of swim school as well – but the way to engage here is a little different than what you might do at elementary school.

First and foremost, we want you in the classroom while we are teaching!

Our time with students is limited, and we want to make sure parents and instructors are communicating effectively, have a common understanding of how the student is performing, and agree on the next steps in a student’s swimming journey.

We understand that parents and caregivers are busy and may even need to take care of other children during a class. But whenever possible, we very strongly encourage parents to take a seat on the benches around our pools, resist the urge to spend too much time on the phone, and watch our Swim Path™️ at work.

What to watch for during swim class

  • Level of skill:

    It’s hard to judge how well a child swims until you watch them in the water for a period of time. Recreational swimming and splashing are often in short bursts, so you may think a child is a strong swimmer when in fact they have challenges that aren’t evident until they try to swim one consistent stroke for some distance. Alternately, a child may be more competent than you expect. When parents and teachers see the same thing, there is no gray area. Seeing it from behind the glass isn’t the same experience.

  • How the class is progressing:

    From week to week, you will see skills being added, practiced and put together to move your swimmer forward. Knowing what a student is working on lets a parent understand how they are doing, what’s coming next and what lessons to reinforce. Parents spend more time each week with their children than we do, so they are our partners in ensuring lessons stick and homework gets done.

  • Opportunities to engage and encourage:

    A child will look for their parent during the lesson, and seeing a parent watching them generally motivates kids to put forth a good effort and behave well. Our teachers will often talk to parents and caregivers sitting nearby during the lesson. It’s a chance to learn what is going. It’s also a chance to see big moments as they happen and celebrate and reinforce success. When you’re right there, and you child says “Watch this” – you can!

  • Telling us when kids need engagement:

    You know your child better than anyone. Our teachers develop relationships with their students, but you may be able to tell when your child needs to use the bathroom, is tired, or maybe isn’t giving 100%. You can feel free to step in and let the teacher know or engage with your child.

  • Anything you aren’t sure about:

    Not sure if your child is progressing, or why something is taught? Talk to the teacher or shift coordinator after class. Good parent/teacher communication really helps the learning process. It also holds our teachers accountable – we are completely transparent about our process, we hire the best people, and we want you to see them in action and earn your confidence.

  • Safety:

    We always encourage parents to be attentive when their kids are in the water anywhere, even at swim school with a staff present. We have many safety protocols in place, of course, but you can never have too many eyes and ears. See anything that concerns you? Please let us know!

Parent engagement is part of Foss Swim School’s philosophy

Our co-founder Jon Foss recalls seeing a mother who needed to run out of the bleachers and across the pool because her child was in danger some years before he founded FOSS. That experience concerning safety plus his own desire for parents to understand what he was teaching was reflected in how he set up the school.

In the early days, he asked parents to leave the lounge area of the rented pool he taught at and sit in chairs poolside to watch. Even today, when we build new swim schools, we lay out the pool deck to have seating for as many parents as possible. We train our teachers to understand they are accountable at all times and coach them to listen to and engage with parents – not just students. It helps parents give accurate teacher ratings, a crucial way for us to ensure the quality of our schools.

We look forward to seeing you poolside, and remember – you don’t have to be in the water to help your child learn to swim!

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