The first thing you need to teach your kid is to get into the boat. It’s always good to remember that W kayakers don’t get their feet wet because we enter the cockpit from the back and exit it from the bow, unless we dock. In such case it doesn’t really matter how the child enters or exits the boat as long as he/she does it slowly and carefully.
Generally speaking, when teaching a child how to paddle you shouldn’t set your expectations too high: Some kids are fast learners and some are not. There’s no point in accelerating the pace, as it’s better for the student to enjoy the whole process.
There are two basic sets of skills that every paddler, including children need to master. The first has to do with propulsion and control, and the second is navigation.
Propulsion and control include both getting the kayak to move forward and preventing it from tipping over. It’s easy to teach children to propel a W Kayak because they can focus just on it instead of diverting their attention to balancing, which can rather difficult in traditional kayaks. The W kayak is very stable yet only 25″ wide, which contributes to easy paddling and learning.
It’s easier for small kids to use a double blade (‘kayak style’) paddle when they paddle solo but it’s also easier for them to use single blade (‘canoe style’) paddles when paddling in tandem with another kid. This is because children’s coordination skills not well developed at an early age and they develop over the years. Practically, this means that having two inexperienced kids kayaking in tandem would inevitably cause their paddles to hit each other.
Generally, it’s advised to start on a pond or a small, shallow lake, and in pleasant weather. The presence of wind while they’re paddling without an adult onboard might distract kids and confuse them.
You’d preferably take the child paddling with you several times before letting him or her try to do it alone.