Paddle Boarding with kids is one of the best sports that you can do with your family—including the dog. You may find it convenient to buy a SUP board for yourself (and your partner) while the children just sit as you paddle. Alternatively, if they are old enough and willing to learn, you can teach them to do it by themselves on their own boards.
SUPing with your kids will save you the cost of a babysitter while you are out on the water and you will bond with them as you paddle together. That said there are things you should know and steps you should take for the whole family to have a fantastic time.
- Safety First
Kids are precious and priceless. That is why safety is the very first thing on the list; please take it very seriously.
Your Child Should Know How To Swim And Put On A PFD
Falling off the board is inevitable, whether you are a pro or not; and a child is no exception. If your son or daughter falls into the water, they should be comfortable enough to get back on the board with ease without panicking. Even though you will be paddling with them on your board or alongside them, it is advisable for them to learn to swim on their own. Teach your children how to swim before you take them paddling—there is no way around this.
Any kid that goes paddling must put on a PFD. This is nonnegotiable even for children with excellent swimming skills. The water can be unpredictable and you want to be prepared just in case. A PFD for SUP comes in handy in a helpless situation such as when a young one is trapped under the SUP board for a moment or when a wave hits them, and they swallow water.
Let Your Kids Know What To Do In Emergencies
As pointed out earlier, you never know what could happen. Suppose you fall in and your kid(s) cannot find you? Or you pass out? The best to do is ensure that they have a whistle. In case they cannot find you and there is no one else nearby, they will blow the whistle for help.
Always have water. Unlike you, kids may not be able to go for long without hydrating. Let them drink water as often as they ask. Never forget to apply sunscreen on the children, lather them up well. Depending on your kids’ needs and age, carry snacks and toys for them.
- Introducing Your Kids To The Board
You will notice that some kids are eager to get on the board from the start. They will be the ones pressuring you to take them with you. Nonetheless, all kids are not the same and some require a little more effort. Not to worry though, as long as you do things right, they will be your little paddling buddies in no time.
Firstly, make them used to the board. While at home, bring out the SUP and let them play with it so that they do not find it strange. When you go with them in the water, do not put them on it first, especially if they seem reluctant. Let the board float near them as they play around it, getting on and off of it as they please. Get on it so they can see it is harmless and show them how fun it is. When they get comfortable, help them on to it and paddle with them on board until they are ready to be on their own board.
Another way to make them love the board is by seeing other kids on it. Go with your friends who have kids. When your young ones see other children enjoying being on the board, they will be less hesitant to get on it.
Always allow them to be in the position they are comfortable with. Some will prefer to lie on their belly, sit at your feet or kneel down. Whichever way is okay. The point is to make them love it so you can have an easy time teaching them.
Note: before you get on the same board with your children, make sure it can handle your weight combined.
- Teaching Your Kids How To Paddle Board On Their Own
Select a calm and safe paddling spot. Motorboats, currents and waves are a big no in any area that you are teaching your child to SUP. It is best that you avoid the ocean. Calm beaches, bays and lakes are the best places for a great Paddle Boarding with kids. Also, avoid the wind. A windy environment makes paddling difficult and could be dangerous to children. If there is wind, find a shore with onshore wind so that if it overpowers your kid, they will be blown towards the shore.
Find your child a paddle that fits their size. This will not be easy and you may have to adjust one of your paddles to their size. Alternatively, half of a kayak paddle or a canoe paddle will do.
At first, help your son or daughter onto the board rather than having them climb by themselves. Get them into a kneeling position and let them paddle until they feel ready to stand up. Teach them the basics of paddling and strokes mechanics so they’ll know what to do and when to do it. When they are learning to stand, be ready to catch them when they fall. After some time you can paddle alongside one another and make some fond memories together.
Remember to encourage your kids, compliment them when they do well, be patient with them when they are not getting it and let them rest occasionally.
Paddle Boarding with kids will give your family a break from the usual activities like bike rides and swimming. Take all the necessary precautions and be gentle while introducing them to the board to make them love the experience altogether. Take time to teach them and create little enthusiastic SUPers. Remember to have a lot of fun!
David writes on Stand Up Paddle Boards Review about the best SUP boards and accessories.