The art and science of teaching has changed a lot in recent decades—and we’re not just talking about teaching swimming, but the fundamentals that go into education. American schools are moving away from the lecture-and-test approach, away from teaching subjects in isolation and away from rote memorization.
At Foss Swim School, we consider ourselves a school first and foremost, and as we develop our curriculum and approaches to teaching, we are always paying attention to overall educational trends, adapting our approach to take advantage of new insights from child behaviorists and educational innovators.
Here are some of the modern teaching approaches you will see in practice as your child learns to swim at FOSS:
- Cooperative learning: One of the reasons we teach in classes is because we know kids learn from each other. Our instructors are there to guide the class in the learning of specific skills, but students are encouraged to interact, observe each other and work together. It might look like group play, but the students are actually learning together.
- Supporting different learning styles: You’ve heard of adaptations for visual learning, auditory learners and kinetic learning in elementary school. Kids don’t leave those learning styles behind when they get to the pool. Watch our instructors, and you’ll see that they demonstrate, describe and help students act out skills.
- Involving kids in goal-setting: We set up our curriculum with very clear goals for progressing to the next level, but within that structure we build in as much flexibility as we can, and let the kids play a role. Some kids just need the main goal, others need to take smaller steps along the way. We set child-specific goals and celebrate success to keep everyone moving forward.
- Imagination and play as part of learning: Learning should be fun for kids. Especially at younger ages, lessons are designed to feel like play activities, and we encourage kids to make up stories about what they are doing whether it’s being mermaids or exploring the sea.
- Offering a trusted, comfortable environment: Kids learn best when they are happy, feel safe and have bonds with instructors and fellow students. We do all we can to keep the class consistent—same instructor, same group of kids, classes on a reliable schedule—so they don’t have to find their place and build trust each time they come.
- Educational spaces designed for learning: Our pools are laid out with purpose to allow maximum time swimming, close supervision by instructors and modular spaces that can be configured for the lesson of the day. Like elementary classrooms abandoning rows of desks in favor of reconfigurable tables, our pools are a tool for teaching.
The common theme in all these educational trends is a focus on the kids, and doing what we can to accommodate each child’s unique needs. At the same time, we will never compromise on the quality of skills our graduates take with them—we don’t automatically move kids to the next level or grade on a scale, because the ability to swim is too important for their safety.
At Foss Swim School, we believe swimming is a fundamental life skill. Teaching and learning swimming is fun, but we take our role as educators seriously. Next time you’re at your local FOSS location, remind yourself that you are seeing how a swim school differs from swimming lessons! New to Foss Swim School? Sign up for a free in-water class.