It’s about time to set aside your kid’s electronics and introduce them to the magnificent outdoors on a stand up paddle board. Paddle boarding is a wonderful way to spend quality time with your kids outside. Taking your kids, even toddlers, on outdoor adventures is vital to their health and will help contribute to their well-rounded growth to adulthood.
Benefits of paddle boarding with your kids
The benefits of paddle boarding with your kids are endless. For both of you! It will improve their balance and strength, build confidence and will connect them with nature at a young age. Not to mention the shared quality time while learning from you.
So how do you get your kids interested in paddle boarding, and more importantly, on a paddle board with you? Here's how to teach your kids how to paddle board, important safety tips and how to keep them entertained while paddling.
Step-by-step guide to teaching your kids how to paddle board
1) Help your kids be comfortable with the water
The first step is to make sure your kids are comfortable in the water. This includes teaching them how to swim and teaching them safe practices in and around the water. For kids less than 5 years old, we recommend having your child sit on your paddle board with you. For kids 5 years or older, they can learn how to paddle board solo, but just make sure the board is the right size.
Recommended ISLE paddle boards for kids:
Important child paddle boarding safety practices:
- Never swim alone (always be with or have a guardian nearby)
- Always be wearing a life jacket
- Always let an adult know where they are going
2) Stand on the paddle board on land first
Before setting off on your paddle board (or theirs), it’s important to lay a board on a soft patch a grass and have your child stand on the board. Remember, this is a completely new feeling for them so it will take some practice to make them feel comfortable.
If your kids are old enough to go on a paddle board solo, take the opportunity while still on land to prep them on how to properly hold a paddle and the correct motions to steer their board in all directions.
3) Paddle board with kids in calm waters
Select a calm body of water and definitely avoid rivers and surf breaks. Calm water makes it easier for little ones to balance sitting or standing. This will also ensure less unknown variables in the situation!
4) Teach your kids safe ways to fall and how to get back up on their paddle board
This step is mainly for kids who are 5 years or older. Once comfortable with all the steps above, it’s time to teach your kids the safe ways to fall on a paddle board and how to get back on their board if they were to fall into the water.
Usually, we don't have much choice of how we fall. But, teaching your kids to fall to the side of their board will protect them from injury. You want them to avoid bracing their fall on their hands because they could sprain their wrist if it catches on a rail. Teaching them to get back up on their board is straightforward, but will take practice.
Important safety tips when paddle boarding with kids
Important safety tips:
- Put a life jacket on your child. You should also wear one to set a good example.
- Check the forecast first. Don't paddle in offshore winds. Be aware that storms and wind can pick up with little warning.
- Know how to SUP. There is only enough room on your board for one beginner — your child.
- What weight is your SUP rated for? Make sure it can handle you and your child. If your child is paddling by themselves, make sure the board isn’t too big for them to paddle.
- Should your child wear a leash? This is up to you to decide. We worry a young child could get tangled in it and wouldn't know how to pull the quick release, but it depends on the child's age. If the child knows how to use it, the leash is very safe and helpful.
- Paddle with someone else or a group – they could help in an emergency.
- Dress child for the correct water and weather temperatures.
In addition to these safety tips, it’s important for you to run through a variety of scenarios to determine what you are comfortable doing with your child in a variety of paddle conditions.
Questions to ask:
- If your child falls off and starts drifting away in a life jacket, can you paddle to your child or is it too windy?
- Can you physically put your child back on the board while not falling in yourself?
- Can you rescue your child if you aren't wearing a life preserver yourself and need to get in the water?
- Is there a surf break, rough water, or rip current nearby that you or your child might enter?
- Are you healthy — meaning you won't become exhausted or unable to assist your child in an emergency?
How to entertain your kids while paddling
The novelty of SUPing with mom or dad will wear off quick for most little ones! Here are some tips to keep your kiddos entertained during your paddle adventures:
- Let your kids pick out a cool landmark that they see in the distance so you can paddle and see it up close.
- Bring a small toy for them to play with.
- Continuously teach your kids new facts about the body of water you’re paddling (wildlife, geography, etc.).