Sailing is a fun escape that can easily become an obsession after you learn proper techniques. Many kids will want to hit the open seas with you once they see it in action and learn for themselves how to do it. Deciding when they are old enough for that, though, is an important determination.
What age should you start sailing lessons? The easy legal answer is 8 years old. Once a child is 8, they can legally learn to sail. But that doesn’t mean that is the right answer. Some children may not be ready for the responsibility, maturity, and physical aspects that accompany learning to sail.
There are myriad reasons that sailing is an excellent activity for adults and kids alike. But for children, specifically, there are a lot of important values they can adapt from sailing lessons for their lives while they are in the sunshine and fresh air, having fun.
Proper Age to Start Sailing Lessons
The above mentioned number of eight years will not always be the time to start your child in sailing lessons. You want to make sure your child has the understanding and appreciation for sailing before you allow them to get out on a boat and really learn the ins and outs.
Some children may be fully ready at that age to step aboard and actively learn. Others may need a little extra time and steps leading up to it.
Learning About Sailing
If your child has expressed an interest in learning to sail and you want to get them lessons as early as possible, take some preparation steps. You can start teaching them any time right from your home.
By learning as much as they can before they even start their lessons, they will be ahead of the curve, and it will also give you a better sense of if they are actually ready to take on the responsibility of actually learning and doing.
It’s never too early to start teaching them about boat safety. This is something you can do right in your own home. Or if you want to earn some “cool mom/dad” points, take them on a boat while it is safely docked and show them some of the safety features.
A great resource to learn more about safety is through the US Sailing Organization. They have safety regulations, recourses, and specific guides for young sailors and safety.
Types of Boats
Has your child sailed on your boat or a friend’s boat? Maybe they just have been reading about sailing and watching the boats go by and gained an interest in it. But finding out the best types of boats to learn on, while also seeing what your child is interested in can spark a whole new form of boat education for them.
It will be fun for them to learn about different types of sailboats, and they won’t even realize it’s almost like a homework assignment.
Bodies of Water
Similar to learning about the sailboats themselves, it would be helpful for them to learn about the different types of water and conditions that sailing is ideal in. They can learn about the weather, water conditions, and type of body of water that will all be important to understand once you are sailing yourself.
Understanding The Weight of Sailing
While your child begins to learn different aspects of sailing, you will be able to gain an understanding of just how ready they are. If they don’t understand why they need to learn about safety, that should be a red flag. Until they understand exactly what it means to be responsible for a vessel such as a sailboat, they probably shouldn’t be at the helm.
When children grow up around boats, they tend to have that understanding from a younger age. They know that they need to be careful when getting on and off of a boat, or that they should make sure that proper footwear is being worn.
But kids that are foreign to sailboats need to grasp the gravity of the situation before anything. If your 8-year-old feels comfortable and confident on a boat while understanding safety and rules, then they should be ready to undertake lessons.
The Physical Aspects of Sailing
It may not be the same as going to your kid’s soccer game or teaching them t-ball as a child, but it is still a physically demanding activity. Since it is not one of those typical sports, the physical aspect of it is sometimes overlooked.
But it really shouldn’t be. They will not be out on the choppy waters sailing alongside Olympians, but they should still be in good physical health before jumping into this. There are a lot of qualities, such as balance, core, and general muscle strength that you will need.
If your child is active and likes taking on new athletic challenges, this should all be fine. But if you do have any concerns over their health, then it might be a conversation you want to run past your child’s doctor.
Why Sailing Is Great For Kids
When you look at items that are important to consider before allowing your child to learn to sail, you are simultaneously looking at many of the reasons why it is an excellent sport for them to learn.
There are so many things that can be learned from sailing that are important for adults too. But as a child, to learn these things early through an activity that is so much fun, is a win-win.
You’re out in the fresh air, sunshine, and you’re active. In a digital world where kids would rather scroll than kick a ball around, finding ways to invigorate their interests in something outside is crucial.
They will be moving about, exercising different groups of muscles than in many other activities, and practicing balance through core strength and learning their center of gravity. On top of all of that, they will be doing all of this outdoors. So it truly is an all-around healthy and positive enterprise for kids. Here you can read a great article on the benefits of physical activity.
I grew up playing soccer, which is where I learned teamwork. Parents tend to go straight to traditional team sports like that to cultivate this skill in their children. I got to really experience it and come to understand it. But don’t underestimate how much teamwork sailing will teach as well.
The stakes are raised in sailing. When you’re out on the water and relying on your fellow sailors to do their jobs properly, it teaches trust and comradery.
We live in an age of instant gratification. What better way to teach your kids that hard work pays off than sailing? They get to see hard work and diligence immediately pay off. Once they are out on the water and everything is going smoothly because of the work they did, they will take a look up and see that their hard work has earned them this amazing experience.
What kid doesn’t need some extra adventure in their lives? Whether they are actively seeking the next adventure around every turn, or they need that motivation to go and seek out a new journey; this will provide them with adventure in every sense of the word.
Sailboats have a certain allure about them that instills that adventure. When you are out sailing, there is no way to not see the adventure and beauty of nature around you.
Cut and Run
You should prepare your sailing-enthusiast-child as much as you can ahead of time and be sure that they, themselves, are ready anytime after they reach 8-years-old. From there, once you’re confident in your child to be able to handle everything, it’s time to let them get underway!