When it comes to sharing your love of boat building with your kids, you can never start too soon. But as their involvement and interest grow, you have to be mindful of what they are and are not capable of. Here are four ways to gently and safely guide your child into the world of boat building.
Manage Your Expectations
You might have some expectations about how this will all go—your kid will be super interested, listen to and follow instructions well, and the two of you will discover a great boatbuilding flow. That may be where you end up, but it’s likely to be a far cry from where you start. There might be a long road of repetition and frustration before you get there. It’s critical to your safety that you are able to keep your cool. Here are some helpful ways to manage your expectations, appreciate the moment and enjoy this time sharing your hobby with your kid.
- Give yourself time. Try to go slow and don’t feel committed to a timeframe. Rushing through something will only make both you and your child feel anxious, which increases the risk of making a safety mistake. Eliminate timelines and go with the flow.
- Adapt to changes. Avoid the temptation to resist a change in your plan. Gently try to stick to your plan, but be quick to let go of your lesson and follow your child’s lead. You have a better chance of really keeping them engaged if you follow their interests.
- Strike preemptively. Set aside time outside the workshop to talk about current projects and upcoming ones. Give your child plenty of time to get comfortable with the terminology, project, and building concepts, so they come to the project with safety in mind.
- Work one on one. Don’t assume you can just show your kid once or twice and then walk away. This is especially important with power tools. You need to be looking over their shoulder should an emergency arise and you need to step in quickly.
Keep it Simple
The more complex a project, the more difficult it will be to explain the activity—which could mean your child might start working without fully understanding what they are doing. That kind of eagerness can be exciting to watch, but it is also very dangerous. Here are some simple boat building projects and tasks you can easily explain to your kids:
- Cleaning: Keeping your workshop and tools clean is one of the easiest and most effective safety tips. Unfortunately, it is also one that is more frequently skipped. Kids of any age can learn safety by helping with the cleanup.
- Painting: Painting a boat can be an easy and safe activity for teens or for multiple kids of varying ages. Letting them pick out the colors (within reason) can really get them stoked for the task.
- Sanding: Another task that is simple to teach and grasp, yet also teaches some basic tool safety, especially with an electric sander.
Start Small Scale
Kids of any age and skill level can work on small boat building projects that help get them familiar and comfortable with more sophisticated aspects of your hobby. Younger kids can build really small, simple boats that help them learn why boats are made in certain shapes. Older kids can work on model boats that help them get comfortable with tools. Model boat making activities include:
- Cork Raft Building: A great way to reuse materials in the workshop and teach some basic safety techniques when using a tool like a hot glue gun.
- Sponge Boat: This activity is perfect for getting your toddlers and preschoolers interested in boating and building.
- Beginner’s Guide to Replica Model Boats: Build the replica of a famous (or infamous) boat from fiction or history.
- Free Plans for a Kid’s Kayak: Get your kid excited about building by choosing a simple plan for their own ride.
- Plan a Boat Together: Once you are ready to partner on building an actual, practical boat, be sure to pick out a plan together and agree on roles and responsibilities ahead of time.
Tighten Safety Precautions
Having another person in your workshop, especially one young and inexperienced, means you will need to consider some additional safety measures:
- Never leave your child in the workshop unattended.
- Always keep the workshop closed and locked when not in use.
- Keep all hoses away from heat and sharp edges.
- Wear the proper safety apparel at all times with no exceptions.
- Disconnect tools when not using them or changing out blades, bolts and bits.
- Keep all power tools and dangerous equipment locked and put away.
Opening up the world of boat building to your child is more than just a bonding exercise. It is also a way to teach skills that will be so useful in life, like making plans, using tools and finishing a project. Let your kids take part in your hobby in a way that makes you both feel excited, supported and important.