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2017 Curriculum Changes

Welcome back!

We hope that our little fishies and their families all had a wonderful holiday season. We are looking forward to a great 2017!

Our curriculum team works hard throughout the year to continually evaluate our program, gauge how effective our methods are, and make adjustments based both on our desire to remain at the forefront of the swim school industry and the feedback of our customers.

This year, we are introducing some changes to the structure of our curriculum. These changes are not as comprehensive as our previous curriculum overhaul (when we went from 8 ribbons to 4), but they will make a big difference, especially to our more advanced swimmers.

Our ribbon system is a complete set of progressions with true-swim skills taught to even our smallest babies, so some of these changes may not seem relevant to your child immediately, but they all will ultimately make a difference for the better.


Level 1 (Toddlers and Students ages 3 and up)

We have modified the skill sticker requirement of “Front Float with Assistance” to a “Face-to-Face Submersion.” Our founders understand that little kids learn best when they are active and moving. Our intention for the front float was to introduce breath control, but the outcome was often delayed because we were trying too hard to keep kids stationary. The face-to-face submersion is the best way for a teacher to ensure that kids are comfortable and confident when holding their breath (making a balloon face) in the water.

The other minor change in Level 1 is with the ribbon-ready swim skill, which now ends with an exhale above the water. This likely already happens, but pushing the point will prepare students for the Up-Face skill that follows in Level 2.


Level 2 (Toddlers and Students ages 3 and up)

Level 2 changes begin at the Foundation sticker level, which is where students will now learn the Up-Face air exchange. Level 2 Skill stickers will work very much the same, however now students will simply earn one backswim skill sticker and the number of fins they wear for backswims will correspond with the number they wear for front swims. (Previously, students earned stickers for front and back skills with two fins, then with one fin before moving onto the Level 2 ribbon.)

The front float reappears as a ribbon-ready skill for Level 2. As with all other ribbon-ready skills, you will likely see your students working on it throughout Level 2.

Level 4

One common parent concern is with our Level 4 classes. Earning the Level 4 ribbon is often a timely process, largely due to the technical requirements of Butterfly and Breaststroke. After 35+ years and tens of thousands of students, we know that the ultimate goal for parents is to have children who are comfortable and confident swimmers. We recognize that advanced strokes are not required to meet that goal.

For these reasons, we have created a new Gold Plus class where students who are interested in continuing their swimming career (swim team, water polo, synchronized swimming) can work on more advanced strokes.


Our learn-to-swim program will end at Level 4 with a Gold ribbon that includes Freestyle, Backstroke and the foundation skills required for Butterfly and Breaststroke.

Once students have earned their Gold Ribbon, they are encouraged to continue swimming in a Gold Plus class, where they can earn Butterfly, Breaststroke and Racing mini ribbons.  While we would love for all students to remain with La Petite Baleen through Gold Plus and beyond (our Pre-Comp program), we also realize that this may not be everyone’s goal.

We encourage you to check in with one of our Deck Supports or Directors on Duty over the next couple of weeks about your Level 4 student’s progress and your enrollment options.