Family Diving Advice
How do you know if your child is ready to try Scuba Diving?
As a Mother or Father, we can assess the likes and dislikes of our children by just observing their behaviour and attitude towards activities. Luckily for me both my daughters have always loved being in the water. They have watched me go on countless diving trips, intrigued by why Mummy wants to go in and out of the Ocean, be it night or day. If your child asks you about whats it like to breathe underwater and shows real interest in what you do then its likely they are ready to try it for themselves. Each child is different, and develops at varying rates. Never try to force your child to do something they are uncomfortable with. Being comfortable in the water is key for them taking that extra step of what we as parents love to do - Scuba Dive. Questions to ask yourself:
Is the child medically fit to dive?
Is the child comfortable in the water, and can he/she swim?
Does the child have a sufficient attention span to listen and learn crucial dive theory and practical skills?
Are the child's reading skills sufficient to learn from adult-level material?
Can the child feel comfortable telling an unfamiliar adult (instructor or divemaster) about any discomfort or not understanding something?
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Why dive as a Family?
Being able to share the one passion you love with your children is an unforgettable experience. Diving as a family allows all involved to explore and discover marine life in diverse environments while physically exercising your body, and mentally escaping the pressures of the modern world.
When can Children dive and to what depths?
There are many diving organisations out there, but they all agree that the minimum certification age of children diving in open water is 10 years old. If a child is physically, mentally and emotionally able to handle the skills and understand the knowledge needed to scuba dive and wants to learn, he or she should be able to get certified. Junior Open Water divers age 10-11 can only dive with a parent, guardian, or PADI professional to a maximum depth of 40 feet (12 m). Junior Open Water Divers age 12-14 years old can dive with a certified adult other than a parent, guardian, or PADI professional, and they may dive to 60 feet (18 m). The earlier a child can be introduced to diving, the more comfortable he or she will be with demonstrating skills, learning new concepts, and gaining confidence.
Benefits of diving with children?
Scuba diving with children not only encourages natural discovery but is educational both from a scientific basis and an environmental one. Diving will build a child's confidence in the water and open up the delights of exploration. They will learn to take responsibility for others, while making sure they themselves are comfortable. My daughters have now become marine conservationists and share my passion of our amazing blue planet. They want to help solve the plastic pollution problem and not add to it. By educating our children showing them the delights of diving, we are protecting our oceans for future generations.
Potential Drawbacks of diving with children?
Scuba diving can potentially pose drawbacks for children for a number of scenarios:
Ear pain when trying to equalise. As children are still growing so too are their ear canals. It important not to force their ears, I have taught several children who simply could not descend below 2m. Make sure your children feel comfortable saying when their ears hurt and understand the consequences of forcing equalisation.
Pressure on children to act like adults in unforeseen circumstances. If a child is buddy paired with an adult, and the adult has an incident while diving, the child has to be responsible enough to help the adult and act accordingly. Maturity here must play a significant role.
Medical risks. There is also very little confirmed knowledge on the effects of decompression sickness on children. This is because very little medical research has been done on real life scenarios, due to the small number of children that dive.
Are Diving Courses the same level for Adults as for Children?
Diving courses are physically and mentally the same whether you are a child or an adult. As Scuba diving can be dangerous if carried out irresponsibly, a child must understand the theoretical aspects of diving. That is why there is no differential between adults and children in the standard diving courses. Likewise they must also be able to undertake the physical skills a scuba diver must master e.g. mask removal and regulator recovery.