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Harriet Plummer Aquatics

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Classes & Lessons > Harriet Plummer Aquatics


For more reviews, see Swim Lessons for Preschool and School Aged Kids
Jan 2008

I am interested in hearing reviews of Harriet Plummer Aquatic School and Sherman Swim School. I have checked the archives, but I am particularly keen on hearing the two programs compared and contrasted if anyone is familiar with both. The ''FAQs'' on the Harriet Plummer website sounded as though they employ a bit of a ''tough love'' approach, but I don't know if that is actually the case. My non-swimming yet water-loving son is almost 5 and can be tentative in new situations. So, I just want to be sure he is as comfortable as possible so that his associations with swimming are positive. Thanks.


harriet plummer and sherman swim are both in the east bay city of lafayette, but from my experience at both, differ dramatically in approach. i should mention that my parenting orientation is very pro-child, and i try very hard never to make my children suffer unnecessarily -- it bothers me to hear them cry.

with that in mind, your depiction of harrient plummer as the ''tough love'' approach is consistent with my experience. my oldest child went to one lesson there, actually one-half of a lesson there, before i pulled him out 7 years ago. i was not comfortable watching my child(ren) cry when being introduced to the water -- and was not comfortable with the philosphy of HP.

sherman, by contrast, is much softer and gentler. they try to work with children's innate water fears and support them. my children all went to sherman and while it may have taken a bit longer to learn to swim than at the HP sink or swim school, they never felt abandon or cried.

now many years later, they are little fish - loving water and having fun, safe and secure. i would not recommend the HP method unless 1) you have a strong constitution and do not have a problem with making your child cry (at least for the short term) or 2) you have a child who is VERY EAGER to put their face in the water and take off (in which case you may not need lessons!) bekki


Sept 2003

I'm looking for swimming lessons for a 6 year old boy who is particularly cautious around water. Are there any places that are better (or worse) about helping children feel comfortable and allowing them to set their own pace, but encouraging? Lucy


I heartily recommend Harriet Plummer Swim School in Lafayette. It's just as you describe-a backyard pool with about 3 teachers in the pool at one time. You sign up for a 4-day week (Mon- Thurs) of 15 minute private lessons (only your child with the teacher). The teachers are especially wonderful with fearful swimmers, using very reassuring, calm, measured tones and a variety of skill-building activities that are play-like. We love the place. They offer lessons year-round, and in the winter they tent the pool to keep the ambient air temperature warm (the pool is kept at 92 degrees or so-nice and warm). They're in the phone book! Christina
I have a great recommendation for swim lessons in the P.Hill area -- try Harriet Plummer's Swim School in Lafayette. I too had a child who was very cautious around water and one who was not. My older child (6) started swim lesons at Little Dippers (which is not a swim club but a swim school) and was doing beautifully -- loved the water, was doing well ... UNTIL we went through a month where she had a new teacher each week of the month. At about the same time, I started my 3 year old there, who was quite nervous about the water. From the start, she cried and got upset. I pulled them both and we went to a new place. I am happy to say that we are thrilled with the results. We now go to HARRIET PLUMMER SWIM SCHOOL in Lafayette and both of my girls swim across the pool and LOVE the water. My little one has even begged to continue thru the fall! They are a touch more expensive, but the instructors are loving, consistent and the staff has mostly been there for a long time. You will not regret it! Good luck -- Been there, done that!
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this page was last updated: May 17, 2008


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