Last Saturday I was watching the kids, saying hello to some people and joining in the wondering chorus of "Why bother" for the one lesson that the kids get before a two week holiday break.
I'm sure it's a scheduling thing, and was about to say how glad I was for the private lessons in the interim, when some Plastic Mom appears by the door and begins a tirade.
"Look at this! Look at these coaches! They stand in the corner and talk while the kids goof off during warm ups!"
Other Mom agrees. "Oh, I know. It's terrible!"
"They need to have a coach at each corner to direct the kids! But they just stand there and talk!" Plastic Mom hurries off, and a moment later, a coach gets paged to the office.
Plastic Mom and Coach come out the door, with Plastic Mom railing and Coach saying she'd talk to people. But Plastic Mom is not satisfied. "Look at this. This is ridiculous. They aren't learning anything!"
Now, I have problems with the warmup, too. But I'm pretty confident that 90% of the warmup problems are Stitch not taking it seriously, so I'm talking with him about that.
But Other Mom and Plastic Mom were on a roll. "It's awful," says Plastic Mom. "How are they supposed to progress on an hour a week? And then They'll tell you that you have to buy private lessons and special ice to progress, and it's just not fair! They should progress in the regular classes we pay for!"
Okay. Let's review.
Plastic Mom is sporting a Prada Bag, a BMW key fob, a fur trimmed jacket and some pricey looking boots. Her daughter is sporting a full Chloe Noel getup complete with the Crystal accents. I'm pretty sure she can afford a private lesson and some practice ice.
Regardless of any of that, it's silly to say that "no one can progress" on weekly skating lessons. There's a boy in Stitch's FS3 class who's never seen a private coach or practice ice, skates about once a week, and he does fine. (He also has a big brother who is a killer ice dancer as powerful motivation.) But he's progressed. He spent two rounds in Pre-Free, two rounds in FS1, and a half round in FS2. He also got lucky in a lot of his classes, as he ended up being alone a lot. Score!
I've never heard of any kid languishing in any level for longer than two or three rounds, and it's usually one niggly thing that's hanging them up. (Except Shuffles, who is still in Alpha 1 after a year. But he's the lone exception.) Since the coaches will teach higher skills to break the monotony, by the time they do pass, they're halfway through the subsequent level anyway.
But your kid will progress. Will they progress as fast as you want them to? Who's to say? Why the rush? What are you after?
If you're just wanting your kid to skate recreationally, have some fun skills to show off to friends, or "to skate on dates" (the reason boys skate, according to the parents I talk to), I think a once weekly lesson and some practice time on public sessions is fine. But like any challenging skill, they won't get it unless they work at it. A Coach can't give your child a gift wrapped Waltz Jump.
I really wanted to ask Plastic why it mattered. But since I was someone who was getting Privates and "special ice," I decided to keep out of it. I noted that the FS3 coach was spending an inordinate amount of time talking himself, and I mentioned it to Coach Y later. She said she'd help.
But what if I didn't have a Coach to help me? What would my options be?
Talk to Problem Coach? I've seen this have mixed results. As a parent, you have to handle this with a lot of diplomacy. You don't want to come across as telling someone how to do their job, but you do want to bring up an issue. I'd use the "compliment sandwich" method. "Hey, those scratch spins look great! Everyone's doing so well! But my kid's having a problem with dance step, can you help him with that? And his toe loop is getting so much better these days! Thank you!" The trick to a compliment sandwich is that you have to be sincere. Don't BS it, and don't be combative yourself.
Some coaches will get all prickly and weird anyway, though, so good luck!
Switch classes? If Coach Talksalot teaches the Saturday Group, and Coach GitRDone teaches Tuesday nights, I'd try to make Tuesdays work and discretely switch classes.
Go ahead and supplement with Privates? I see nothing wrong with this. A Booster Lesson on a low key Public Session is no admission of defeat. I'd just make it clear to the Coach that "we're just trying to get those three turns down." I also think a Junior Coach at a lower rate is perfect choice for this problem.
Switch Rinks? If the problem is ongoing, and I'm chronically getting stuck with a talker, I could move to another rink. Other Mom does this. She supplements with lessons at CityRink down the road. For me, my other option is farther away and more expensive. Right now, this is not a good option.
But what about you? What would you do? Or what have you done when Coach Talksalot is talking, talking, talking...