Is It A Good Idea For Children To Learn To Sail?

Posted on November 6, 2012 by Lee under Sailing, Sailing Training Courses Comments Off on Is It A Good Idea For Children To Learn To Sail?

Is It A Good Idea For Children To Learn To Sail?When asking the question, is it a good idea for children to learn to sail, there are probably plenty of people who would immediately say ‘yes’ and leave it at that.

If you have enjoyed sailing for many years then there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to want to pass on that interest to the next generation, and it may well be that your children have already expressed or demonstrated an interest in learning to sail.

This is all well and good, but sometimes having a passion for something rather clouds our judgement, and it might be well worth stepping back and considering both the merits of children learning to sail, and also the things that can be too easily overlooked by those demonstrating either immense passion, or who are simply very keen to encourage any interest their child has which doesn’t involve a screen.

How Old Should A Child Be Before They Learn To Sail?

This really depends on what you mean by ‘learn to sail‘. If you mean teaching them the names and purposes of every single rope, button, panel and fixing then probably they would need to be old enough to be able to remember and understand this much information – heading rapidly into double figures.

But this isn’t always what’s necessary, because if you go sailing as a family then a young child is likely to pick up on methods, words and ideas reasonably easily. By being immersed (if that’s the right word to use) in the world of sailing and boating from a young age children are very likely to learn at least some of the main elements of sailing whilst still unable to spell the words ‘yacht‘ and ‘dinghy‘.

Going Beyond The Academic Aspect Of Sailing

However, I would go one further, and suggest that before a child is either given the opportunity to learn boating by being involved in a boating experience, or learns to sail by attending a boating course, they should be taught something of much more importance: respect.

What do I mean? I mean that a child needs to have respect for the sea, for the sun and for the wind. They need to have an understanding that the sea is not simply a large swimming pool, that waves can be rough, that the water is cold, that there can be strong currents, and creatures swimming in the same waters.

It is also important, I believe, that he or she can swim at least reasonably well, and is fully able to understand both the need for a floatation device, such as a life jacket, and understands how to operate it, including any inflation mechanism, and any additional features such as whistles and lights.

I think that once a child learns this respect, and understands the very real need for safety, then they may well be ready to either learn sailing by being involved with a family sailing expedition, or by attending a sailing course.

Sailing Courses For Children

One thing I would mention is that there are plenty of sailing courses for children these days. Just have a search on our website, or contact your local boating club and make an enquiry about boating classes for children. These will be paced and structured so that they are more appropriate for children.

Although a child of the age of 8 can legally sail a boat on their own, this doesn’t necessarily mean they should. It also doesn’t mean that every child is always ready by the age of 8.

But once a child is ready, and understands the need for respect, for understanding and for safety, then there can be few things more worthwhile, more exhilarating and more satisfying that harnessing the raw power of nature to create your own path through the pathless expanse.

The skills children learn range from mathematics and geometry to geography and even mechanics. Giving them that combination of both freedom and responsibility, the controlled adventure, and the feeling of creating their own journey is, I believe, priceless.

Your Comments And Thoughts

How do you feel? Do you think sailing is a good idea for children? Do you believe that children as young as 8 can ever truly be ready to sail alone? Did you learn to sail as a child? Are you happy for your own children to learn to sail? Whatever your thoughts and feelings, please share them by leaving a comment below.



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