Why Don't We Teach Private Lessons for Children Under the Age of Four?
The techniques and tools that we use to teach children that young would not be conducive in a private setting. At that age, the mental capacity and motor skills are not developed enough to work on anything but the most rudimentary skills. We're talking about kicking, blowing bubbles, submerging the face, etc. It's not really until the age of four when they've become physically mature and dependent enough to work on stroke development.
What we're focused on with children under the age of four is simply water acclimation: getting them accustomed to being in a pool setting, getting them comfortable with putting their head under the water, teaching them how to safely enter and exit the water, teaching them to take cues from an adult, and so on. The real trick here is to get them excited about the water and to make sure that they're enjoying themselves. We do not have an aggressive approach like some organizations. We're what we call child-centered: we go at their pace; only when they're ready for a skill do we attempt to teach them that skill.
What all of this amounts to is that a) we try to keep the children engaged and b) we do not want to pressure them into learning skills they're not ready to learn. The type of pressure and focus that we would put on them in a private lesson ultimately ends up causing a negative experience. We find that our group class settings are more appealing to children of that age and they learn quicker because of peer-to-peer learning and because of the positive reinforcement from the games we play and songs we sing.
Last, but certainly not least, every major swimming and pediatric organization (APA, American Red Cross, etc.) recommends that children under the age of four are never in a water setting where an adult is more than an arm's length away. Because we take the recommendations of these organizations seriously, we want to get adults accustomed to the idea that they have an immediate responsibility and impact on their child's well being in the water. In addition, we want children to get accustomed to the idea of taking all cues in a water setting from an adult (i.e. their entire water experience is guided by a parent or guardian).