There’s no greater bond than the relationship between you and your children. Oh, but there might be one exception... the bond you develop over your favorite water sport once you teach them all the skills you know. Children are at the opportune time of their lives to pick up a new skill, and their malleable mindset allows them to adapt to new hobbies, and discover what they truly love most. If you put in the time and effort to teach your child a new skill now, the outcome will far exceed any expectation or dream. Read on for invaluable tips on introducing your kids to paddle boarding or kayaking, and you will be on the water on your next family adventure in no time.
Feel Empowered in the Water
In a tech-filled world, it’s time to get the kids outside and enjoy everything we did as a child — being out in nature and playing outside. Not only does SUPing or kayaking offer superb time outdoors, it’s a physically active activity that’s masked as a fun one. The first step is making sure your child is comfortable in the water. Before attempting to teach them anything, it’s important to give them enough exposure to the water, and provide them with the swimming and survival skills they need. This brings us to our next tip, safety first.
Safety is always number one priority, especially when it comes to ourselves and our children. The most important thing you can do is make them wear a personal flotation device, or PFD. And size does matter, so make sure it fits appropriately. In addition, a SUP leash ensures your child is not separated from their board; strap them in.
Getting the right size gear is what is going to set your child up for success. There’s nothing like trying to learn a new skill and not having the right size PFD. Check your local shops for kid-sized gear, or use some of your equipment and tandem ride.
Show Them How It’s Done
Monkey see, monkey do. That’s how it goes, right? Let your children watch you adventure out on the water. And take it a step further — bring them on your adventure. Aquaglide’s tandem products like the Chinook 100 are the perfect beginner vessels, meant for short trips and flat mellow water. Show them how you paddle, how you maneuver, your stance, and how you get in or out, off or on.
Teaching The Basics
Get ready to teach your child the basics, by going back to the basics. While on an SUP, have your child learn to paddle while on their knees. Kneeling offers better balance and support. And the strokes are more steady.
Stand-up Paddleboarding: Make sure your child's top hand is on the paddle, blade facing forward. Lower hand should be just low enough to get in a good stroke. And let them know while paddling, it’s best to rotate their torso, not by using their arms.
After they get the paddling down, it’s time to stand. And then comes the most important part, how to get back up on the board. Falls are inevitable, especially while learning. Teach them that it is ok, and just part of the process.
Kayak: Beginning on land, have your child sit in the kayak and explain the basics of how it feels to be in the kayak. For those who will be paddling on their own, teach them how to hold the paddle, and the basics of the forward stroke. For those smaller kiddos who will be sitting in a small cockpit, teach them things like not to stand up, or lean over the side.
Don’t discourage your child before even getting started. Make sure to choose a non-windy day, and a location that’s typically calm water, with not a lot of people, distractions, or boaters. The last thing you want is your child to be nervous about getting in rough waters.
Confidence Will Follow
As long as you work your hardest to prepare your children, their skills and confidence will flourish. Remember when you were a kid trying to learn a new skill? It can be tough if it feels as though you’re not getting it right. Above all, be patient with them, be patient with yourself, and enjoy the ride. In due time, their skills will strengthen and their confidence will grow. Adventure on, friends.