It's one of the most fraught decisions in the world. Should I get my child private figure skating lessons? It sounds so elitist, even vain. After all, you're not one of those pushy moms.
Well, if you are, don't worry about it, just don't kid yourself. It's okay to be pushy on behalf of your child. Well, up to a point. But I digress. Just because you want, or your child wants, private lessons, is nothing to either brag or be ashamed about. It's tricky, because lots of kids take private lessons (think piano), but private sport lessons are something that "rich kids do"-- tennis or horseback riding come to mind. But there are all sorts of reasons to take privates other than keeping up with the Joneses. Is your child struggling in class, but really wants to do better? Take a few privates. Is your child progressing quite fast; does she seem like she might be talented? That's another reason for privates. If she or he wants to compete, even just in our numerous small local, "non-qualifying*" competitions, or go through the ISI or US Figure Skating test structure, that kid will need to take private lessons.
Some rinks have a culture that supports private lessons, i.e. pretty much everyone takes them, so it feels fairly normal. Other rinks have a much more casual approach, and it might be more unusual to see kids in privates. Don't worry about it. Do what feels right for your child.
More about how to choose a coach in a future post. Meanwhile, I'd love to hear tales about your experience with private lessons.
*a "non-qualifying" competition is one that is generally run by a local rink or club, or is run under the Ice Skating Institute and does not have a mechanism for qualifying skaters to compete at Sectionals (in the Midwest we call our Sectionals "Mids"), National, or International competitions. Only U.S. Figure Skating runs qualifying competitions in the U.S. These are the ones just listed, plus Regionals.