Updated: Jul 8, 2019
Looking for Safe Surfing Lessons for Kids and Families?
Below are our top five tips on what to look for in a surf school.
1. Carefully select the venue
If you are wanting find a safe surf school for kids along Australia's east coast, it is important to find one that is situated at a protected southern corner. These pockets are predominantly away from intense surfing areas, large southerly swells, cold winds from the south and dangerous surf breaks. Any outward flowing currents or rips are usually a lot more predictable than those in the middle of the beaches. There should also be close access to swimming flags, lifeguards, lifesavers and Surf lifesaving club facilities, this ensures extra support if rescues are required.
These selected venues should also be in populated areas to take advantage of the extra people in the water, particularly surfers, if assistance is required.
There should also be the availability of a flat water venue for many reasons:
To teach the basic skills, paddling and maneuvering
To check floatation in case a participant loses their board
Back up in case the surf is too large to hold a class and participants still wish to learn ocean skills
Most surf schools teach surfing lessons - by lining 10ft long boards on the beach, showing you how to jump to your feet on the sand, then taking you into the broken waves just meters off the shoreline
Surfing lessons for kids should be taught on smaller boards, particularly ones that are allowed to be used near or in the above locations. Large boards are impossible for kids to maneuver themselves, especially within the surf break. They are difficult to turn or pivot and once they get on to a wave are likely to nose dive because it is so hard to get large surfboards to tilt backward whilst gong down the wave. On the other hand - kids can paddle and turn smaller boards easier, and are obligated to learn the correct paddling technique for reasons of balance. Instructors can easily assist to push the kids onto waves and keep the boards from nose diving. They can also maintain safety standards with a smaller board within the surf break.
Boards should also have handles for added security. Kids should learn the skills to recover their boards if they lose them in a safe surfing area, however - leg ropes may help to add security when moving off the shoreline into the deeper water for the advanced parts of the surfing lessons.
3. Pre surfing lessons
The surfing lesson should be preceded by a surf education lesson, so kids understand the basic flows of the ocean around the shore line,which will also help advance their skills after the lesson. They should understand about rips and sand banks because these should come into play during the lesson. Learning paddling skills (positioning and posture) should be done in still water, and some form of floatation testing should be mandatory to make sure kids can float, and to help split the kids into groups as per their level of ability in the water. This will allow the kids to advance their skills at their own rate - rather than trying to keep up with advanced participants.
4. Instruction should be hands on
Most surfing instructors leave you in the white water so you can try to stand up. Most do not work with the client, rather they go off free surfing, which can be very intimidating for those learning, non educational and a waste of money.
Surfing is not all about learning how to stand, it is about learning how to catch a breaking wave as it transforms from a swell to a wave. If you can master this - standing up is a mere formality. This is why the instructors should mostly be without a surf board, so they can easily assist the participant. With that said, there should always be one instructor with a surfboard board/floatation devise in case assistance is required. Instructors should also have very good swimming skills in the surf.
5. The use of safe rips
When you advance to catching a wave from "out the back" of the surf break, it is important that the instructors are able to use the safe rips to get participants to the break without too much trouble, then line them up in a position where they can maneuver their boards around with out getting hit by a wave while getting into position. Instructors should be able to assist at least two participants at a time, this is impossible if they are on a surfboard.
So, when booking your kids into a surf school check that they tick all these boxes. You don't want to compromise your child's safety or fun in the water.