Essential things to teach kids before boating

Boating is an excellent sport to teach your child. But, there are some things you should teach them, before giving them a boat directly. Before teaching your child boating, teach them some of the basic things.

  • Swimming
  • How to use boat safety equipment?
  • How to rescue others while boating?
  • Then start with small dinghies (with paddles).
  • Then with a dinghy with an outboard motor.
  • Then go for a boat.

These are the basic things everyone needs to know, and you should teach your child before teaching them boating. By learning these things before boating, they will get to know how to react in some extreme conditions.

A ship in port is safe but that’s not what ships are built for.

Grace Murray Hopper

1. Swimming

Swimming is a great sport and good exercise for the body. While teaching swimming you should be near them and teach the basics first. Some of the basic moves are listed below.

  • Breathing
  • Floating in the water
  • Your body movement should be well co-ordinated
  • Kicking
  • Strokes

By teaching basics first, they will learn how to float on the water without drowning in the water. They will learn how to balance their body in the water.

After teaching them the basics, then go for actual swimming and teach them little advanced skills. By doing all these things first, it will eliminate all the fears related to water in their minds.

It will help your child to think wisely because, in the water, you generally be cautious and watch the surroundings. Like, how others are moving in the water? And based on the others you make the move accordingly without hitting them.

In the future, if they fell out of the boat, they will watch the surroundings and make their move accordingly.

Safety is like a lock, but you are the key.

2. How to use boating safety equipment?

Then after completing swimming, teach about the safety equipment. Like, what kind of safety equipment are there in the boat, and how to use it in the right situations.

First, teach them slowly how to put on life jackets, how to through life rings, and when to use whistles. After finishing that, teach them how to were like jackets in the water? And how to look for the floating objects in the water if they fell aboard.

Like, how to go near the floating objects after falling off a boat? This will help them to search for the floating objects immediately, after falling out of a boat. After this, if possible, try to explain to them how to use communication devices? It is good to know how to operate them.

3. How to save others while boating?

The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.

Bob Marley

You shouldn’t only teach your kids how to save themselves from dangers. You should teach them how to save others in danger. Teach them how to through life ring if someone fell out of a boat.

Practice it, now you should be going into the water and tell your child to through life ring near you and pulling it if possible. In this way, if he sees someone in danger, he will try to help them.

After finishing all these three steps, you can start teaching them boating. Even now, you shouldn’t directly give them boats and tell to drive there are few steps for that too.

In between, don’t forget to teach them how to get back on a boat after falling out by themselves. In many situations, people will fall off the boat, and they don’t know how to get back on the boat.

Check my article on Getting back on a boat: after falling out (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In that article, I mentioned what you need to if you fell overboard

The last three steps

  • Then start with small dinghies(with paddles).
  • Then with a dinghy with an outboard motor.
  • Then go for a boat.

You should do these steps before starting driving an original boat(I mean boat with inboard or an outboard motor). It might be a bit hard if you directly gave them a boat and telling him to drive. You can do that but, if you teach then this thinks first, then they will understand properly.

By practicing these steps, you will help your child to learn boating in a better way than others. Now he will know how to drive a dinghy and a boat as well? And he will understand what type of boat he should use in different conditions.

4. Then start with small dinghies(with paddles).

First, starting with small dinghies are very essential because then they will get to know how to balance a boat(dinghy). This might help one day if the outboard motor isn’t working, then they have to paddle the boat.

Take your child to a dinghy sport (where they will use only the paddle for boating). It will be fun. He will learn how to operate a boat in tides and how to paddle in extreme conditions. It will boost his confidence in boating.

Paddling is very useful and good for health too. It increases muscle strength, particularly in the back, arms, shoulders, and chest, from moving the paddle. So, don’t forget to teach your child how to paddle a boat?

5. Then with a dinghy with an outboard motor.

Before starting with an outboard motor, tell them about the dinghy precautions.

  • Tying kill switch to your hand.
  • How to start the engine(pull starting the engine)?
  • Don’t get your dinghy sideways to the waves.

First, tie the kill switch wire to his hand or the life jacket. If you move your hand away, then the key will come out. And the engine will stop automatically.

This will be extremely helpful if you are alone on a boat, and you fall off a boat, then the boat will automatically stop. Else, the boat will be moving in the water and you can’t catch it. This will be the worst situation.

If you pull starting the outboard motor, generally, you will pull the starter handle. While pulling, you may hit the person sitting beside you with your elbow on the face. So, be cautious while starting the outboard motor.

Don’t go sideways to the wave on a dinghy. Sometimes it may tilt the whole dinghy, and you will fall into the water. Just go towards the waves. These are the basic precautions for a dinghy. Check this video on how to operate a dinghy safely, a good example.

If you are interested to know more about the safety tips, then check my article on Safety tips for boating with Kids: A detailed guide (don’t worry, it will open in new tab).

After finishing all these steps then give them a boat.

  • Swimming
  • How to use boat safety equipment?
  • How to rescue others while boating?
  • After that start with small dinghies(with paddles).
  • Then with normal size dinghies with an outboard motor.

6. Then go for a boat.

While giving them a boat for the first time, don’t teach then in the sea or ocean if possible. Because seas are tough for beginners due to tides and fast blowing winds.

First, teach them in a lake or pond. The water in the lake will be calm, and it will be easy to handle a boat in calm water rather than in seas or oceans. After learning properly in a lake then go for the sea.

Remember this before going for boating, have a checklist, of things that you need to be taken whenever you are going for boating. Keep that checklist on the boat, near the entrance or the steering wheel, so that you won’t forget those things on the list.

Check my article on Safety equipment for a boat: 31 things you need (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In that article, I mentioned all the safety equipment you need based on the water types.


My name is Mahidhar, and I am passionate about boating. Every day I learn some new things about boats and share them here on the site.

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