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Helping Kids Learn How to Canoe

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Child Canoe

Child Canoe

© by George E. Sayour

Its never too young to teach your child to canoe. The younger you can have your children learn to canoe the more comfortable they will be in, on, and around water. You can even have your son or daughter in the canoe with you from the time they are toddlers. Be sure to do this safely! But at some point they will be ready to start to learn how to canoe rather than merely be in the canoe with you.

Prerequisites to Teaching Your Child to Canoe

There are three prerequisites I put forth in order to safely teach your child how to canoe. First, they must be able to swim. Second you child must be wearing a PFD. Third, you should only canoe 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.

Canoeing with Young Children

Once your child becomes a little bit older and more competent in holding their canoe paddle and can actually produce a canoe stroke, you can begin to teach them how to paddle in tandem with you. Remember what might be second nature to you at this point won’t be for them. Give them guidance without being too overbearing. This will be a crucial age for your kids in whether they will like the sport of canoeing or not want to do it. The difference between the two demeanors will have everything to do with your attitude toward them in the canoe with you. Some things to teach at this point is:

Canoeing with Pre-Teens and Teenagers

If you’ve been canoeing for any amount of time you know that the perception is that there is not much to paddling. Of course this is a myth that your own child won’t be immune to and they will probably resist instruction. As they grow older you will be able to teach them technique, form, and stokes. But again, remember, this age is one where kids don’t listen to their parents so don’t be surprised if they want to do it there way. Figure out that balance between showing them what is right while at the same time giving them the flexibility to mess around as they wish. Some things to teach as they grow ready:

Before you know it they’ll be canoeing on their own and if they learn to canoe solo you’ll have to buy them their own canoe.

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