“Natural play strengthens children’s self-confidence and arouses their senses – their awareness of the world and all that moves in it, seen and unseen.” – Richard Louv
As an Early Childhood Facilitator, I live by this quote. I wholeheartedly believe children need to be given multiple real-world experiences to truly appreciate it. They’re surrounded by natural beauty every single day. And yet, screen time is beginning to replace green time!
We know from research that children spending time in the natural world helps build their resilience. As a result, healthy wellbeing is supported and they achieve a greater sense of self and their environment.
My husband has been a long-term SUP user. And thanks to our awesome Bluefin Cruise SUP, we’ve all been joining him recently! Our children are generally pretty active anyway, and love being outside. But on any given day we’re blessed with sunshine, they instantly ask to be taken to the beach for a day of paddleboarding.
I’ve loved watching them get involved. From helping pack the car with the easy-to-store backpack to helping pump it up, they love the process of getting ready to go. Of course they fight over who gets a turn on the SUP first, but I guess that’s all part of the negotiations!
At first, our 6 year old Marley struggled with paddling technique. But with some simple guidance and plenty of positive encouragement, she learnt to set off all on her own. As a parent, the most amazing feeling was watching her fall off her board, go underwater, and resurface with the biggest smile on her face! She didn’t hesitate in saying ‘I need to try again!’, and that’s exactly what she did.
However, this time around she worked out that her feet were too close together. So she made the right adjustments completely of her own accord, ensuring her balance was more central. Trial and error is an amazing learning tool in early childhood, and Marley certainly experienced the benefits!
In contrast, our 9 year old Eddie jumped straight onto the board and immediately set off like a total pro. He absolutely thrives when taking on a physical challenge, and this was no exception. He loves the kayak seat attachment too, and often takes his fishing rod with him when we set off on our day trips.
Quick SUP Tips for Parents
Lots of positive encouragement is key! This helps the child feel supported, essential when they’re trying something new and potentially challenging.
Allow plenty of time for children to practice, and never put them under unnecessary pressure.
Always be prepared! Make sure you have all the correct equipment, including personal floatation devices, sunscreen, and hats. And if your kids are anything like ours, plenty of snacks!
Most of all, have fun! If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing. Especially when there’s children involved.
“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach them to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.” – Carol Dweck