INTRODUCING MY CHILDREN TO KAYAKING

Are you a kayak buff and have kids? Sooner or later the question of their first water outing is likely to arise. But where, when and how? Itiwit guides you through your role as kayak initiator...    
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#1 I’m taking my child sea kayaking with me

On the water too, it is important not to put the cart before the horse. You should follow certain safety measures religiously: wait for calm waters, good weather and make sure your child is wearing a life jacket.  

If you are taking your toddler with you in the kayak, place him between your legs to make him experience the sensations of the kayak while keeping an eye on him. 

As he or she gets older, your child will want to use the paddle—let her participate; these key moments will stay in her memory and help her own the paddle stroke. 

Later on, you’ll be able to sit your apprentice kayaker in the cockpit of a double kayak, or maybe even have his own junior craft. The sit-on-top kayak is very useful on a first outing: fun, accessible and featuring a double hull which makes it unsinkable.  
 

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#2 My child is ready to paddle alone in her own kayak

Another method, always in a calm spot where you can touch the bottom: sit your 6-year-old by herself (life jacket on) in a kayak suitable for her size. Give her an age-appropriate paddle and stay by her side to monitor her first paddling moves.  

Is she enjoying it? The suggest a fun exercise to make the session more exciting: ask her how many strokes are needed to reach a nearby goal! 

If you don’t feel comfortable guiding them through their first paddles, seek the help of kayak teachers: some clubs offer “first lessons in kayaking” for children. The idea is also to see if they’ll stick with the sport. From the age of 6, as long as they know how to swim, the child gets into a kayak supervised by a professional.  

 

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#3 My first kayak tour with my child

It’s time for your first family outing? Check your kayaking safety equipment: child life jacket, bailer, floating rope, whistle, first-aid kit, water and kayaking snacks. Is the weather nice? Add sunglasses, cap and sun cream!   

Next check the skills and motivation of your little ones: can they swim 25 m? Can they put their head under water without panicking? Can they wear their life jackets for an extended period of time?   

Final precaution: Keep your outings short as children get bored quickly and have less endurance than adults to hunger, cold, fatigue and may feel scared at times. If these elements come together, there’s sure to be some crying on board, and you’ll have a hard time convincing your child to get back on a kayak!   

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#4 Enrol them in a kayaking school !

Kayaking/canoeing school starts at 12 years of age. Children advance according to the achievement levels set by the French Canoe-Kayak Federation: white, yellow, green, blue, red and black paddle.  

These levels represent the your child’s technical progress, his mastery of safety and familiarity with the environment. Often, after just one year, your young kayaker picks up his green paddle: the beginning of autonomy in calm waters!

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