What makes FOSS unique Part 1: Swim School vs. Lessons

By Susan Foss, co-founder of Foss Swim School

When Jon and I founded Foss Swim School in 1993, we wanted to create a better way to learn to swim and enjoy its many benefits, including vastly improved water safety, intellectual and physical development for kids, and love of swimming and water activities. We believe water is not something to be feared. Rather, water is to be loved with family and friends throughout life.

Since then our model has been copied by others, but FOSS remains unique. We hope we can help you sort through the differences in philosophy and delivery that make a true swim school stand out from lessons.

Many swim programs and schools offer a grab bag of “options” that make shopping for a quality swim program a little daunting. But when you break the offerings down with an eye towards what is best for the student and what gets the best results, we believe the Foss Swim School approach to skill development, our curriculum, our teachers and our commitment to advance students safely and confidently while having fun clearly sets us apart.

Even in this era of COVID-19 and the safety concerns surrounding activities, water safety and confident swim skills are important. Choosing the right path and place for learning is important too. Here is how and why we do things the way we do them at Foss Swim School:

We Are Educators in a School Structure

We are teachers and the pool is our classroom. We swim in quarters, following a consistent schedule that provides the maximum learning time for each child. Children get to know their teacher and classmates, learning styles become apparent, trust is built and the “rhythm” of the class delivers results.

Some programs allow you to “drop in and out” or enroll any month, stopping or starting anytime. This may seem convenient, but it isn’t really the best learning environment for your child. It causes distraction and upsets the “flow” for other students.

FOSS has experimented with the “continuous/monthly/drop in” model and there’s a reason we’ve chosen to stay with quarters: It works better. It’s the most consistent and predictable educational environment for your child to learn to swim. And that’s what we’re here to do.

Personalized Paths and Consistently Measured Results

Every child begins their learning journey with certain skills and perceptions in place, and will progress in their own way. We call this our Swim Path®, and it is a personalized plan that lays out how we help each child move toward becoming a more skilled and confident swimmer. We will place your child in the appropriate level to start and advance them only when they have mastered the skills needed to begin the next level.

Measuring results means something in our program. It’s the difference between getting value out of the time we spend together each week or not. Our goal is to keep things consistent and predictable for your child because that’s how the best results are achieved and how we can objectively observe progress.

Level recommendations for the following quarter are given with a few weeks to go so that swimmers, instructors and parents all know where the child is tracking and what things can be worked on in the final weeks.

Parent Involvement

Do you ever wonder what goes on in your child’s class at their school? We do too! At FOSS, we invite parents into our classroom. You see what the instructor is doing and saying to your child. You become a partner with your child’s instructor to get the most from our lessons at the pool, at home or wherever you and your new little swimmer are around water!

All FOSS locations also offer separate observation rooms with seating, cooler temperatures, and are just a little quieter if that’s what you prefer. Sometimes you want to be right there on deck, and we want you there too… and sometimes the observation room is just right. We get it. We’re there to get your child swimming either way.

Unique and Proven Curriculum

Our unique curriculum is founded on safety, having fun and solid stroke technique adjusted to each student. We balance safety, fun and education in a way that creates and capitalizes on a positive learning environment.

Developed by co-founder Jon Foss and refined over 27 years, our students reach goals throughout each level through our well-defined curriculum we call Swim Path®, which is comprised of skill sets and learning strategies, all delivered and experienced through imagination and play. We focus on making learning to swim fun, keeping kids swimming as much as possible during a class, teaching kids to enjoy but also respect water, and mastering core safety skills.

Step by step, each skill is broken into teachable components in a unique way so that each skill builds on the others, progress is made toward graduation. No other school does it quite like FOSS, and if you ask our families, they’ll tell you how well it works – and they’ll know exactly how well because they’ve been sitting with us learning how it all works too.

Even the language and mindset of being “enrolled” in a school is helpful – it reinforces that this is a long-term commitment to skill development, not a one-time purchase or an “on-again/off-again” hobby.

I hope this has helped you understand part of our core philosophy at Foss Swim School. I’ll be writing again soon with Part 2 of what makes FOSS unique, focusing on our people and features. Thanks for reading!

<< Read Part 2 >>

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