"Is my child ready for scuba?"
“Is my child ready for scuba?”
This is a question I get asked and read on scuba forums all the time. There are so many variables to be considered before a yes or no declaration can be made, and even then just because your child is old enough, or shows an interest in scuba, they still might not be ‘ready’, though ready will still be subjective and the final decision will probably be made by the instructor who might be teaching your child.
So lets get down to some of the most crucial variables in deciding if your child is ready for scuba.
Are they they at least 8 years old? Children 8 years or older may participate in the Bubblemaker or Seal Team programs, while children 10+ can sign up for the full Jr Open Water Scuba Diver course. Just because they meet the minimum age requirement might not mean that they are ready for the course, so please, continue below to see the most important things to consider before signing your child up for scuba lessons.
Are they interested? Like most activities we don’t want to force children into something they don’t want to do, but this is especially true of an activity like SCUBA. Its important for me to know why a child wants to learn to dive, is it do see fish, spend time with a parent/sibling that dives, feel weightless, breathe like a fish, these answers can help determine what kind of student they would be.
Are they comfortable in the water, physically fit, relatively coordinated and able to recreate/mirror actions they see? Kids don’t need to be able to carry tanks to participate or get certified though, a certain amount of physical fitness, strength, muscle memory and comfort in the water is required of all divers, especially those getting certified. Do they have experience swimming or snorkeling in the ocean, are they comfortable around marine animals and plants.
4. Do they have a healthy respect for the safety aspects of diving? Before any scuba experience with children we read over the Youth Diving Flipchart which explains the fun and safety aspects of scuba diving and the experience or course they are taking part in. We can usually tell a lot about a child by their level of engagement during this speech. Do they understand that they must communicate if they experience discomfort / pain / something wrong, do they understand some animals / plants can cause injury and to keep their hands to themselves to avoid this, do they understand the serious repercussions of not following the rules or alerting their instructor when something is wrong? Do they also understand how much fun they will have if they follow the rules?
5. Does the child have the attention span and emotional maturity to succeed in the class you are considering? Are they able to pay attention in class, respond well to correction, able to communicate if they do not understand something and ask appropriate questions? The Bubblemaker and SEAL team classes are about an hour each, while the Jr Open Water Certification requires 3-4 days minimum of class time with an instructor and independent learning. Being able to watch and repeat skills demonstrated by the instructor is a key component to any of these experiences, being able to pay attention long enough to learn about the skill, watch the skill and repeat it demonstrating mastery is a requirement to move forward in any of these classes.
6. Are they at least 10 years old and able to read, write, comprehend the information presented and the complete homework? The Jr Open Water Certification specifically requires the same at home study and exams as the (adult) Open Water Certification course - which is something to keep in mind when making this determination. Some 10 year olds breeze through the knowledge development and in water work while some teens struggle to understand the material or complete open water skills - this all depends on the individual. Basic math (addition, multiplication, division) skills are necessary for success in the Jr Open Water Certification course.