Swimming is an important life skill for your kids to learn—but don't let it sink your wallet. Here are tips to make swim lessons more affordable.
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Piano, art, ballet—the activity list can feel endless when you're a parent. And the cost of all those classes can add up quickly, especially on top of all the other expenses involved in raising your little humans. But some extracurriculars are more essential than others. Swim lessons, for example, provide valuable—even lifesaving—skills every kid needs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing your child to the water and teaching them basic water safety skills and swimming skills—such as entering and exiting the water, coming to the surface, turning around, and propelling through the water for at least 25 yards—as early as age one. The AAP says teaching your child these basic lessons offers an important layer of protection against drowning.

Besides being a crucial life skill, swim lessons can be a great physical and social activity for your child (and a chance for bonding too, if you go for a parent-and-child swimming class). But swimming lessons can be pricey, too—especially with a private instructor, or if you have multiple kids you want to enroll. According to data by Lessons.com, the average cost of private swim lessons can range from $20 to $60 per lesson.

But don't worry: There are ways you can save. Here's how to teach your kid(s) how to swim without breaking the bank.

DIY: Be your kid's first swim instructor.

Parent-and-child swimming classes are great, but infant swim classes can cost between $30 and $40, according to data by CostHelper. If you can swim yourself, you can teach your baby to get comfortable in the water yourself, suggests certified financial counselor Andrew Latham.

"After a few months in private swimming schools, I did some research and decided to be my son's swimming instructor using the SWIMTOFLY swimming method, which has a free YouTube channel," Latham tells Parents. "My son is now a competent swimmer (for a three-year-old), and I love our weekly lessons," says Latham. "I will probably reenroll him into professional lessons at our local swimming pool once he outgrows my swimming skills, but for now, it is a great way to spend some quality time together," he adds.

Latham also recommends the book, Teach Your Kids to Swim, to help you make your lessons fun and productive. Teaching your child basic swim lessons yourself can be a good starting point to save some money initially, so you can postpone enrolling them in a class.

An image of boy during swimming lessons.
Credit: Getty Images.

Look for classes at public swimming pools instead of private lessons.

"Public swimming pools are much more affordable and can range from $10 to $20 per lesson for group settings," says Latham. "You can cut the cost of swimming lessons in half—and my experience has been great," he adds.

Personal finance blogger Tana Williams concurs: "Whether it's the YMCA or a small
township center, it'll be cheaper than lessons at a higher-level swimming facility," says Williams.

Plus, local residents generally get bigger discounts at community centers and pools, so be sure to check to see what options are available for your family. Most YMCAs also offer sliding-scale fees based on your family's household income.

Alex Williams, a certified financial planner, adds that since "we all know that practice makes perfect...take your child to a public pool regularly and ask them to practice as much as they can." The more they practice outside of class, the better they'll get—leaving you fewer lessons to pay for in the long run.

Enroll multiple kids together in swim lessons.

If you have multiple kids ready for swim lessons, enroll them together. You can usually a discount this way, says Williams: "Often, facilities will give up to a 10% sibling discount."

You could also go in on swim lessons with other parents. If someone you know has a pool in their backyard, you could even hire a swim instructor and split the cost between the families. This gives everyone a chance to save, while making it a fun and social event.