When to Teach Kids to Kayak & Paddleboard
(photo courtesy of Ian D.)
When we get kids into paddling—kayaking, SUP, canoeing or packrafting—they can have a lifetime of fun and adventure on the water. But how young can they start?
Our friends at Paddle TV have a series of videos about getting kids into kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding. Here are a few of their videos with some great suggestions for different ages:
When Can Kids Start Kayaking?
Here are some of this video’s take-aways:
- If you have a tandem kayak, even very young children can start kayaking in the front seat with an adult paddling in the stern.
- Kids as young as 4 years old can handle a paddle in the bow position of a tandem kayak. With a paddle their size, this is a great way to introduce them to paddling without them having to control the kayak.
- A child as young as 5 or 6 can start paddling their own kayak, depending on the child and the kayak. The key? They should ask for it!
- Before they take to the water in their own kayak, a child should be a confident swimmer and able (and willing) to take direction well.
When Can Kids Start Canoeing?
Take-aways from the video include:
- Choose a calm body of water, free from wind and waves.
Stay close enough to shore that you can swim to it, along with your child, if necessary.
- Average canoes can handle 2-3 small children plus two adults, with the kids sitting on the floor in the middle. Kids 7 and under are usually best in this scenario.
- Bring something to cushion the floor for them to sit on, and don’t forget the snacks!
- Kids 8 years old and up are ready to assume the bow position and learn basic paddling strokes and skills.
- Give your kids a paddle that’s their size. It’ll make paddling much easier until they grow into an adult-size paddle.
When Can Kids Start Paddleboarding?
Here are tips from this video:
- On calm water, away from wind and waves, kids can start to experience paddleboarding at almost any age.
- Young kids who don’t yet have the coordination to paddle themselves and control a SUP board, or those who aren’t confident swimmers, should start as a passenger on your board. Choose a larger, very stable board for this.
- Some children may be ready for their own board as young as 5 or 6. Others may not be ready until they’re a few years older.
- The most important thing is to wait until the child asks to paddle on their own.
- As with kayaking, a child who starts with his or her own board needs to be a confident swimmer and good at following directions.
Of course it’s a given that everyone in or on your boat will wear a Coast Guard-approved, well-fitting life jacket. On a paddleboard, use the leash to keep your board with you in case you or your child ends up in the water.
What paddle questions can we help answer? Contact our Wisconsin-based Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]
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