Catering for varying abilities

group of children in swimming caps and goggles 

Often as a swim instructor you will be faced with a group of children who are all in varying stages of swimming ability. While this may seem a bit daunting at first, with a little patience and flexibility it can be easily managed.

First of all, take some time to get to know each child and their individual ability and skill level.

This will help you to work out how many different stages you have within the class. Also check whether any of the students have any injuries.

Once you understand the group of individuals you are working with, you'll find it easier to break the lesson down to suit the group.

If there are different stages within the class, won’t those in higher stages get bored?

Definitely not!

For children in the higher stages, being in a lesson with children in lower stages gives them an opportunity to be used for demonstrations or extend themselves further. Likewise, those in the lower stages may be encouraged to work that little bit harder in the lesson.

When in doubt, use progressions!

Teaching the same stroke to a class with students at different levels is easy — simply break up the stroke into progressions. All you need to do is allocate the progressions that suit the children you have, such as our freestyle example here:

Lower stage: Freestyle arms, no breathing

Middle stage: 
Freestyle arms plus breathing to one side on the board

Higher stage: 
Freestyle arms, breathing both ways on the board

Then, if a particular child shows confidence in the drill, move them up to the next progression!

Be sure to keep each child encouraged and provide individual and group feedback that encourages them to keep going. Try not to focus too heavily on the differences between your students and, instead, focus more on having fun yourself — your students will too! 

Great ideas for your next lesson!

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