You’re headed out for an afternoon paddle and your child asks, for what seems like the tenth time, “I wanna go. Can I come paddle boarding with you?” Take the bait and run with it, because what better way to bond with your child than doing something you love, with them? With a little effort and a whole lot of patience, you’ll be cruising right alongside your child on the water. Read on for five simple steps to introduce your kids to paddle boarding, to bring on less tears and more smiles for years to come.
- Make Sure Your Child Is Comfortable, On & Off The Water
This one should go without saying, but before you try to introduce the sport of paddle boarding to your child, you need to make sure they actually have the ability to do two things: swim and control their movement enough to balance on a paddleboard. There’s no magic age for this, but typically it’s around age 5 or older.
Before you have them hop on a board in the water, make sure they’re comfortable on land! Set both of your boards next to each other and practice how you might stand up on the board once you’re in the water. Have them try it out multiple times before getting on the water. And speaking of getting on the water, you’ll want to make sure that the temperature of the water is not too cold — no kid will be happy if they fall into cold water.
- Get Your Child Some Gear of Their Own
Is there anything more exciting than getting some fresh new gear?! No, and we’re sure your child feels the same way. If anything, having something to call their own when it comes to a new hobby motivates them a little bit more to get excited and try something new. Here are a few basics that you should start to invest in for your little one:
- Stand-Up Paddle Board — If your child is going to start off on the board with you, make sure you have a board that’s appropriate for two people. The board should have enough space for two which makes maneuverability easier on the water. Aquaglide’s 11’ Kush SUP makes for the perfect relaxed ride for the whole gang.
- A Stand-up Paddle Board Leash — Tumbles are bound to happen when learning. Be prepared to fall and not lose your board when you have a leash on hand.
- Personal Flotation Device — Keep safety top-of-mind always when you get your little one their own PFD. Whether your child is a good swimmer or not, it’s important to make sure they wear a properly-fitted PFD at all times while on a paddle board.
- Paddle — a paddle that’s the right size is necessary for a child to gain some confidence on the board.
Once you’ve got the right gear in place, you’ll be more than ready to teach your little one the amazing sport of paddle boarding.
- Show Them First
The best way to teach any child how to do something, is simply to model it for them, aka, show them how you would do it first. When it’s time to launch your paddle board on the water, choose a calm spot to do so. Show them how you get on the board, starting in a kneeling position. Then slowly stand, positioning yourself on the center of the board. You’re going to then help your child do this exact same thing.
Starting out on one board for the both of you is a nice way for them to get the feel of the board, and have you there for extra reassurance. It’s a little bit trickier, but you’ll help your child onto the board as mentioned above, then you’ll slowly get on, finding your balance with the new weight distribution with two people onboard. Once you’re on and standing, slowly help your child up from kneeling position. When you both are secure in your positions, you’ll begin to paddle.
- Add in Some Extra Fun
Paddle boarding is all about having fun, so why not throw in a little extra flair to the sport? Does your child love costumes? Let them wear that cape on board (as long as it doesn’t hinder safety, or course!). Bring along some snacks for pit stops along the way. Play a game of “Eye Spy” as you pass interesting flora and spot wildlife. You get the point — paddle boarding can be so much more than just a cruise on the water. It’s a time for you to connect with your little one, and most importantly, have fun.
- Let Expectations Go
As with anything when it comes to children, sometimes, things may not work out as you had planned. Don’t set out on a long paddle, only to be disappointed that your child is upset and wants to head back ten minutes in. Start little, and start slow. And if your child is tired or just not having it today, honor their feelings. If anything, aim to teach one new thing about the sport of paddle boarding each day. And in time, they will surely love the sport just as much as you.
Paddle boarding with your child will not only create memories to remember years from now, but it will also foster your relationship with each other and love for the outdoors. Start your journey strong with these five simple steps to introducing your kids to paddle boarding.