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Teaching Kids to Paddle Kayaks, Canoes, and Paddleboards

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Any activity that has survived the test of time has done so through the passing on of the trade or skill from one generation to the next. As the sports of paddling are as old as civilization itself, they fall into this category and have traditionally been taught from parent to child. Once a matter of necessity, paddling is now a means of recreation and is a way for us to connect with our children through this age old practice. Here are some ways for you to teach your children to canoe, kayak, and standup paddleboard.

1. Teach Your Child Paddling Safety First

Child PFD
Photo © by Susan Sayour

Regardless of which paddling discipline you want to teach your child, safety must come first. There are three prerequisites I put forth in order to safely teach a child to paddle. First, they must be able to swim. Second you child must be wearing a PFD. Third, you should only kayak, canoe, or paddleboard in protected bodies of water with your young child or toddler. As a point of clarification, the reason why your child must be able to both swim and wear a PFD rather than simply wear a PFD is so they can float face up and attempt to self-rescue in the event you are unable to get to them. Here are some safety considerations to look into.

2. Teaching a Child to Kayak

Kids Kayak Instruction
Photo © by Susan Sayour

Kayaking is probably the most popular of the paddling disciplines. Here are some articles to help in the process of teaching your child from toddler to teen how to kayak.

3. Teaching Your Child How to Canoe

Child Canoe
© by George E. Sayour

Canoeing can very naturally be combined with many other types of activities such as fishing, camping, and picnicking. It is therefore a great family form of paddling to pass on. Here’s how.

4. Teaching a Child Standup Paddleboarding

A Child Kneels on a Paddleboard
© by George E. Sayour

Standup paddleboarding is takeing the paddling world by storm. Your kids will love it. You can do it with them. And they’ll probably have better balance than you in no time at all.

5. Make Sure to Have Fun!

Father and Son Kayaking
Photo © by Susan Sayour
While there are many reasons to paddle, remember the over-arching impetus is for enjoyment. It is therefore imperative that we pass this value on to our youth and that it is done not out of chore but rather relationally. This truth should undergird everything we do in the process of teaching our children to paddle kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. If done right at sometime our sons and daughters will bypass our own paddling abilities and in no time will be teaching us a thing or two about paddling. So remember, have fun!
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