Skip to main content

The charity making life better by water

Top tips for paddleboarding with children

Jo McCallion has been paddle boarding with her children for over three years. Have a look at her top tips for paddle boarding with the family.

Paddle boarding with kids
Placeholder for quotes
It is wonderfully relaxing - we are never really aiming for speed - but just being on the water, enjoying the countryside and wildlife.”

Try before you buy

It's worth trying different boards before you buy. You can generally find places that give you the chance to try different boards where other watersports are on offer. We live in Bedfordshire so we tried clubs at Graffam Water and Rutland.

There are two options, inflatable or solid boards. We chose inflatable boards with a pump and paddle that can slide down to fit in a rucksack so that an adult can carry them to the water's edge. You can take this some distance as it is big, but not overly heavy. When the paddle board is inflated it is a bit cumbersome but light enough to carry a few hundred meters. It is worth thinking about where you will park and how long it will take you to get to the water.

Paddle boards aren't cheap, but try not to go too small if you chose to buy one. It is better to be too big than too small because you'll be more stable and you can double up with a small child on the front and an adult paddling at the back.

Paddle boarding with the family


The adjustable paddles are great for children as you can adjust them as they grow. We also sometimes use a kayak paddle, sitting down on the paddleboard.

What to wear

Whatever the weather you will always need a set of dry clothes and towels in the car. In the summer time we do often just go in shorts and t-shirts - we may get slightly soggy - but the warmer weather means we don't get cold / blue extremities. In the cold weather, layers under wetsuits were essential.

Paddle boarding with the family


You must all wear buoyancy aids. Paddle boarding can take a few goes to get the hang of so you are much more likely to fall in the water than kayaking/canoeing. Everyone needs to be safe.

Plan your route carefully

Plan your route carefully before you set off. On rivers the current can help or hinder you more than you think, so we always make sure we go upsteam on the way out and downstream on the way back home, which means we are not fighting the current when we're tired. If on a canal, think about the wind rather than the current - so paddle into the wind on the way out (when you're fresh) and downwind on the way back.

Try sitting at first

You don't need to stand up at first - you can use it more like a canoe - or even get kayak seats to attach to some paddleboards. The key to standing up though is your core muscles. Once you have "got it" it's easier than you first think. And as long as your board is big enough, you are surprisingly stable.

Do not try doing yoga poses on your first attempt, you will fall off and your children will laugh at you!

Last Edited: 20 October 2022

photo of a location on the canals
newsletter logo

Stay connected

Sign up to our monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about campaigns, upcoming events and fundraising inspiration