By Foss Swim School
Life is busy for families, especially when you think about all the scheduled and unscheduled activities kids participate in during any given week. Although we’d like to hope swim school is a can’t miss appointment, inevitably something gets in the way for even the most regular student. When a lesson is missed, sometimes parents ask if we allow drop-ins to another lesson at the same level, like some other swim programs do.
The short answer is that no, we don’t drop students into another lesson. But that’s a feature, not a shortcoming. You see, we have structured our program around a particular teaching and learning philosophy that emphasizes consistency and relationships between teacher and students and between the students themselves. “Dropping” a student into an existing dynamic is counter to that philosophy.
Structured like a School for Success
The longer answer we can give is that Foss Swim School is structured like a school, rather than treating swim lessons as commodities that can be traded and bundled. We teach in quarters and define success as passing the skills within each level, and like all school, we have structured our lesson plans to allow enough flexibility and repetition that students can miss one or two lessones per quarter and still pass.
In school, a sick day doesn’t mean you have to bring your student to another teacher’s lesson at the same level to make up the learning time. Instead, there may be homework, a little coaching or make-up at the next lesson attended, and the lesson progresses logically so that a student can catch up. The same is true at FOSS.
Relationships and Flexible Lesson Plans
The other facets of our program that parallel other school experiences is the focus on the dynamics between teacher and students and the emphasis on consistency.
Our co-founder, Jon Foss, observed that students learned best when they worked with the same teacher and were paired with students of similar age and ability over time. FOSS experimented with continuous enrollment and drop-ins in our early days and found that progress wasn’t as great or as consistent. Charging people per lesson and making students and teachers learn how to work together over and over was a poor experience.
FOSS teachers work from the same curriculum, but tailor their lessons to the students and how they learn. So, while all kids take a certain level will learn the same skills over the course of a quarter, little kids will have a different experience than older kids, and even two lessones at the same age may focus on skills in different ways depending how the teacher determines that group of students learns best.
It’s unfair to consistent students to disrupt that experience so the teacher can catch up with a drop-in. And it didn’t do the child dropping in any favors, either. Over our 30 years, we determined it’s best to stay with the same group of students and teacher and simply catch up from a missed lesson.
Consistency and Attendance is Key in a Lesson
Staying together is one aspect of consistency. Another is regular attendance. Drop-in policies make it feel easy to not attend a regular lesson. We only get so many hours with a student per quarter, so we want to make every minute together as productive as policy. Our structure and guarantee are intended to encourage regular attendance.
If a student makes 80% or more of their lessones in a quarter, they are also covered by our Swimmers, Guaranteed promise: If a student is attending regularly and doesn’t advance despite working hard, we offer tiers of support for each repetition at a level, and Foss will cover the cost of the fourth (or more) repeat at a level until the student passes. (Read more about the guarantee and exceptions here.)
We understand the disappointment students and families feel when they need to miss a lesson. But we assure you: Many of us at FOSS are parents too, and we structure our school to do right by your swimmers. Not relying on drop-ins is actually one of the ways we deliver what we believe to be the best swim program around!