For the northern hemisphere, we’re in the throws of winter, or in 2015, what should be winter on December 21st. El Nino has for most of the world delayed much of the snow and cold and turned it into wet dismal weather.
With the longest night of the year just past us, memories of summer seem distant and cold. They are far away and we still need to slog through the wet spring and snowstorm of January – March.
Before you know it, we’ll be hiring for summer staff and interviewing our swim instructors. If you put out a summer brochure for registration you’ve likely just started planning it, or already have it done.
Here are 6 tips you can do to get ready for your summer swim lessons and make your memory of summer a little warmer and brighter!
1. Have a plan
Get your swim lesson plans in order. You are going to have a lot of new staff and that means training, confusion, and uncertainty. Organize your swim program now so you can create logical easy to follow swimming lesson plans for your staff to reference when they get in the water. After training, the best way to ensure each lesson is taught well is to have everyone doing something similar. Your staff should speak the same language and do the same things with each swim lesson. That standard of consistency will allow you to effectively manage a large staff and a high volume of participants. Remove confusion and hesitation and place everything your staff needs right in their hands. Here is a post we did to tell you what swim lesson plans are, and how you can create your own:
Swim Lesson Templates: what they are and how to create your own
Another great resource if you want to provide really easy to read swim lesson plans, but aren’t sure you want to take the time to make them yourself is our Swim Lesson Starter Kit and the Complete Lesson Program. You can find them here:
2. Simplify your registration
Take a look at your local park district, recreation center, or pool facility. Check out their swim lesson program offering. Did you notice anything about their class list? Most are a wall of confusing text with multiple days, times, levels, and conditions. As a parent, I want it to be super easy to register my child for a swim lesson. The more difficult that is, the more likely I’m going to get frustrated and just sign up for whatever works schedule wise for me ignoring level and conditions. Check out this screen shot of a local park district swim lesson listing:
Do you want to take the time to read this mess? I certainly don’t. People get overwhelmed when they have too many choices like this. Someone needs to choose the level, the time, the day, figure out if it is weekly, and what age it is for. Wow! Too many choices and options. Some of this is limited by the registration software you use. Most park districts use something like RecTrac and it gives you clunky stuff like the above. Do your best to streamline (haha, pun intended) this registration process and make it as easy as you can. Do you have 6 different levels? Don’t list them all at the same day, time, dates. Instead, have participants register for a day and time slot only. We want to remove as many variables as possible for new and returning participants so they can easily work swimming into their schedule. In the example above, we should do our best to logically use lesson codes to organize chronologically when lessons are offered. If you still have 30 different time slots make sure that participants can easily see a pattern: all Monday classes, then all Tuesday classes, etc. Avoid mixing days, times, and levels when you don’t need to. We recommend ignoring levels when you offer registration and instead just list your days and times you offer lessons. Look at this other screen shot from a registration brochure and see how much easier it is to find a class:
Here we see the days and times clearly listed for Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays in January and February. This program likely uses RecTrac too, but they have simplified their registration display to make it super easy to find a day and time. You don’t need to worry about ability, level, or age for the most part (5-11). We should strive our best to make sure that this registration process has the fewest number of steps be super easy and clear what registrants need to do.
3. Organize your training flow
Do you do a 2 day all day training session with your returning and new summer staff? Get your ducks in a row by streamlining your training process. It might not make sense for you to have all of your returning staff go through the same training that you new staff does. Maybe you don’t even have a swim lesson training system. You need one. At least we need instructors to know the basic language of swimming. Everyone in the water teaching should know how to do the 3 progressions of supported front floats, and the 3 progressions of supported back floats. We recommend you dedicate time now to planning your training documents, videos, and materials. Are you going to use workbooks and in water demonstration? What will be your lesson plans when you or your managers teach swimming lessons? Can you offer some sort of online course that teaches and tests your staff with swimming lesson specific information? Look now at what you can do to make the time commitment less for your managers, you, and your staff. Self guided learning online or through workbooks can reduce the amount of time you require staff to attend long and sometimes boring training sessions. We have so many tools available now to make learning easier we should take advantage of them whenever possible.
The Complete Lesson Program comes with the digital version of the SLI Swim Instructor Training Workbook, a great tool you can use to teach someone how to teach swimming lessons. Use pictures short distance training, and scripts to teach swimming well. Use the training workbook to learn what to actually do in a swim lesson to teach effectively.
4. Pick the games you want to teach
Take the time now to research the best games you can use in large groups and in small groups. Using fun to teach swimming is more effective than just repetitively doing the same things every day over and over. There certainly is a place and a purpose for repetition and ritual, but breaking that up with fun and effective swimming games can seriously boost retention and promote progress. We offer the single largest list of games on the internet specific to swimming lessons here. Pick the games you think will work best for your program and make sure you play them with your staff during your training sessions. Give people a chance to sing the songs before they do them in the classes and see if it is a fit for your program.
If you want to learn how to create swimming games on your own, check out the book we created for that reason here!
5. Buy your supplies now for deep discounts
Everyone buys their summer supplies in May and June. Beat the pre-season rush and price markups and take advantage of winter discounts. We have an awesome post about swim lesson toys and games to play with them here, but you can head over to Amazon or SwimOutlet.com to bulk up now on floating assists, lifejackets, buckets, and fins to really prepare for summer.
You should order those items sooner so you can take advantage of the off-season discounts many stores offer to get people to buy.
6. Send out emails or letters to previous seasonal staff
If you have a large seasonal staff, you should be sending them reminder emails now. Don’t wait until March to start asking if someone is returning. You can send seasonal staff a holiday card to remind them that you care, and to keep your program in their mind. Put together a top 10 list of the best moments from last summer and send it out in an email to all seasonal staff to reignite fond memories in your staff. For many people they will look back at their seasonal swim lesson jobs as some of the most fun and positive experiences. Take advantage of that nostalgia to bring back high quality experienced staff next summer. You won’t need to train them as much and their experience will help you have better swimming lessons.
What do you do to forget the winter blues and cold weather? How can you ignite summer again in your heart?