I looked into swimming lessons a few months before my daughter’s near-drowning accident. In the end I didn’t get her into lessons. We were getting ready to welcome 2 new babies and knew we’d have to buy a new car and move in the near future so swimming lessons just weren’t in the budget. While swim lessons may or may not have prevented her accident, it’s definitely something that has caused me to play the “what if” game in my head many times since last summer.
Swimming lessons are not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to prevention drowning (wouldn’t it be nice if they were, though?) but they definitely save lives. Unfortunately, they are also expensive and they are out of many family’s budgets.
There are ways to get free, or reduced cost swimming lessons though. It’s well worth looking into a few of these options. Knowing even basic swimming skills could save your child’s life.
Here are a few ways to get free or reduced cost swim lessons:
Check with your city. Many cities offer scholarship programs for free or reduced cost swimming lessons through city venues. Apply early. Most cities have a set budget and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Do you have a YMCA near you? The YMCA offers discounted swimming lessons based on income. You’ll have to bring in proof of income to see what kind of discount you qualify for.
Contact your local swim school. Swim schools can be on the pricier side (although most of them are well worth the money) but many of them offer a trial lesson so you can test it out and see if it’s something that works for your child. If you want more lessons after that, look into group lessons which are cheaper than private lessons.
Teach the basics yourself. Swimming lessons for younger kids are 90% getting kids comfortable in the water. The more comfortable your child is with basic skills like putting her head under the water and kicking her legs to move, the fewer swim lessons she’ll need before she can master basic safety skills like floating and getting out of the pool on her own. Work with your child in the water (with lots of supervision) to get her comfortable in the water then put her in swimming lessons. Often your child will be able to master basic survival swimming skills after one class if they are already comfortable in the water. Make sure you are familiar with what your child needs to learn. The American Red Cross has a great resource for parents here.
Put birthday money towards yearly swimming lessons. Do your kids get birthday (or holiday) money? have them put that money towards swimming lessons. Be sure and talk about lessons in an upbeat way so your child will be excited about learning to swim since they are using their money. This works best with spring and summer birthdays but older children may be patient enough to save their birthday money until the weather warms up.
Work out a trade. Do you have a skill that you can trade for swimming lessons? Get in touch with your local swim school or recreation center and see if they have a need for any extra help in exchange for swimming lessons. Many recreation centers accept volunteers for their front desk or in the childcare center for discounts or free memberships. It’s worth negotiating for swim lessons if they are open to that.
Hire a life guard on the side. Do you know a teen who works as a life guard? Talk to them to see if they want to work with your child for some extra money at a local pool. I’ve known several moms who know teens who have been trained as a lifeguard and have their own backyard pools. They’ve hired those teens at a substantial discount and their kids got some great small-group attention. Definitely pay enough to make it worth it for the teen but by cutting out the middle man you can cut cost.
Find a work at home job. There are some great work at home jobs you can pick up to cover the cost of swimming lessons. Reach out to moms who need summer childcare (or moms who just want some help getting their kids to and from swimming lessons). Sell some stuff around the house (we always have plenty of stuff in our garage we can get rid of). Get creative and figure out how to turn your talents into some extra income to pay for swimming lessons.
Have you come up with a creative way to pay for swimming lessons? I’d love to have you share your ideas with us in the comments!
You may also like: