Everything you need to know to get your kid started in kayaking
Seven-year-olds are ready to paddle and have many options for entering the world of kayaking. By seven years of age most kids can do all of the following:
Seven years old is a great age to begin kayaking - they are strong enough to have success and a lot of fun!
Option 1 : Paddling a Child-Sized Kayak
Kids 5 to 12 can paddle a child-sized kayak. For families completely new to kayaking this is usually a 6 or 6.5 foot sit-on-top kayak such as the popular and inexpensive Lifetime Wave, or for those looking for sit-inside kayaks something similar to the light and nimble Perception Prodigy XS. See our kid kayak reviews and paddle reviews for more suggestions.
This size of kayak was what we started our children on and we own multiple of the same one so the kids can go out together with siblings and with their friends on the river.
These kayaks are very small and easy to manage. Virtually every kid within a mile of our house comes in the summer to play on these with my kids.
Seven-year-olds can easily paddle these a half mile to a mile on calm bodies of water after a few practice/play outings. They also can tow a younger sibling on the back for shorter periods of time throughout the trip if you opt for the sit-on-top.
Child-sized kayaks are definitely the easiest type of kayak for young kids age 4-7 to learn to paddle on.
The sit-on-tops are very stable, unsinkable, and easy to paddle which makes them great for any family, even those with no prior experience on the water. They are perfect for exploring lakes and calm slow-moving rivers.
The kids can climb on and off easily to play in the water, and the kids very intuitively know how to paddle as soon as they climb on with just a few minutes of experimenting.
The small size takes away the intimidation factor and the kayak feels like it was made just for them.
For this size of kayak, they will need a child-sized paddle, approximately 180 to 200 cm with a narrow shaft, so they have a comfortable hand-grip for their little hands, and a scaled-down blade on the paddle so that paddling is not too difficult.
The paddle blade should not be the same size blade as an adult paddle with only a shorter shaft. This will make paddling much too difficult. It should look like a miniature paddle blade.
Not to worry though; most sit-on-top child kayaks come with a child-sized paddle.
For more guidance on choosing specific kayaks and kid paddles read our kid kayak reviews and check out our kid paddle reviews
Option #2: Assisting as the bow paddler
Seven-year olds will enjoy sitting at the front of your tandem kayak and paddling across the lake with you at the stern. Keep it short and start on the calmest water you can find and you will have a great time together exploring and making memories.
I recommend the Perception Cove sit-inside tandem. It's great for the whole family with adjustable seats and dry storage.
For an inflatable tandem, I recommend the Intex Explorer 2-Person Inflatable Kayak as a first kayak for those nervous about investing in a hard shell kayak or for those with small cars or limited storage.
Option #3: Paddling a sit-on-top tandem with parents
Seven-year-olds get a kick out of sharing a tandem sit-on-top with siblings.
Sit-on-tops are loads of fun for families and especially for youth and kids. They are like a raft/kayak hybrid, and while you may not get exceptionally far or get there fast, they are loads of fun. They are easy to climb on and off of and take away any intimidation factor to trying out paddling.
A great entry-level tandem for families wanting a sit-on-top is the 10-foot Lifetime Tandem sit-on-top and the Perception Tribe is a very good, slightly more expensive option for those wanting to do a little more touring verses just playing.
Best Option ?
A sit-on-top kid-sized kayak to paddle all on their own!
This option, whenever possible, is the very best option and will ignite a love a kayaking and give your kid the chance to explore and develop self-esteem and independence.
A small kayak is manageable and is like having the right size of bicycle to ride on.
It is a totally different experience to ride your own bike than sitting as a passenger while your parents do the peddling. Think of the little sit-on-top kid kayaks as a tricycle or little kid bike and use it on calm water for a world of fun.
Things to remember about 7-year-olds on their own kayaks:
Seven-year-old children benefit from going kayaking because it gets them out in nature and using their own body.
It's not important how much they can do. In the beginning, don't expect more than ten, twenty, or thirty minutes of paddling.
Don't worry....Very soon it will turn into hours of delightful exploration.
Just let them do what they can and keep it very simple and fun and they will want to come back next year (and the next) for more!
Be safe, wear life jackets and take it slow and easy.
Have fun outside spending time in nature together.
Wishing your family many adventures on the water together!
Almost six years ago we moved into a little New England house with a river in the backyard and quickly discovered the joy of kayaking kids.
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Legal Information: This site is meant as a log of our family's opinions and experiences, but is in no way a comprehensive safety guide for kayaking. Kayak at your own risk and research well anything pertaining to your family's safety. This site shares our experiences and products we have tried and researched. There are affiliate links used to reference the products being reviewed.