We are thrilled that so many people make swim school a family affair! Across our network of schools, we have many families with two, three, or even more siblings enrolled in swim classes during the same quarter. Understandably, this can be a logistical challenge, but we have found that some of our families have developed useful strategies for swimming siblings.
We talked with Christi S whose family swims at Foss Swim School in Ankeny, IA. Christi has three children currently enrolled at FOSS, ages 8, 7 and 4. Here are six tips Christi gave us for how her family makes it work.
Enrollment: Start with the rarest class
Christi says: “With three kids in all different levels, what I do before enrolling is look at the level that has the fewest classes. For us, this is our oldest. I then look for classes close to that time for my other two kids as usually they have more options. For our family, we like to swim on the weekends, as that is the most manageable time and doesn’t interfere with their other activities during the week.”
Lesson times: Staggered starts let you visit each student
Christi says: “This session we have kids starting their lessons every 15 minutes (8:30. 8:45, and 9) and it is working great. The other kids get to watch and encourage their siblings while they wait for their lesson to start. It also gives each child at least 15 minutes of total parent attention during their lesson which can be a struggle if they have lessons at the same time. Even if both parents attend the lesson, we are still outnumbered! It also allows them their own time to get dressed after their lesson while we are waiting for another lesson to finish.
“We have also done lessons for the kids that were all at the same time. For us as parents, that was much easier to manage, but our kids were always wanting our attention during their lesson, which could distract them from learning.”
Watching the lessons: Strategic seating
Christi says: “There is plenty of seating in the pool area and in the lobby. For this session, we start sitting by our eldest’s lane and move another two times to get close to the other two kids while they are in their lesson. There has never been a time where we have been without a seat to see our kids.”
Locker rooms: Family restrooms vs. stalls
Christi says: “The locker rooms are very large, so we have never had an issue with finding a place for our kids to get dressed. When they have had lessons at the same time, we have used the family restroom to get all the kids dressed quickly so another family could use it. Other times, the kids will each find their own stall and get dressed.”
Locker rooms: Sequence of siblings matters
Christi says: “Having our youngest in the middle lesson for this session really helps. We are able to leave the pool area and assist him with getting dressed after his lesson while the middle child is still swimming.”
Lobby: Your strategic oasis
Christi says: “There are days when one or more of the kids are less than excited about waiting their turn to swim. This is when the lobby becomes a parent’s life saver. They have toys and a movie going every time we are there which can distract the kids while we can still watch the swimmer in the pool. It is also helpful for the kids who are not yet enrolled in swimming. There was a point where our youngest was not ready to swim, but he did want to come and be with his siblings. We spent most lessons in the lobby.”
For many FOSS families, finding the perfect way to get all their kids to swim class is a matter of trial and error, so with quarter-long sessions that must run their course before your next chance to experiment, we hope Christi’s insight and experience can help you home in on your best strategies sooner.
While your experiences and preferences will obviously vary, but we appreciate the planning and effort all families make (regardless of the number of students) to give their kids the gift of swimming!