Best Surf Lessons for Kids: A Helpful Parents Guide

Surfing is a great activity for kids because it gets them outside and helps promote a healthy lifestyle.

If your child has shown some interest in surfing, taking lessons is a great way to learn the basics and have fun. Sometimes, finding the right lesson for your child can be a bit of a challenge.

Often, other parents ask “How Do You Find the Best Surfing Lessons for Your Kid?”

To help answer the question, I did some research, talked to other parents and summarized my answer below.

Finding surfing lessons that focus on having fun will jump start your child’s love for surfing. To support your little budding surfer, parents should research different surf schools in the area, choose kid specific surfing lessons and start children at an appropriate age.

Learning to surf has some unique challenges that are different than many other sports.

Surfing takes place in the ocean, therefore ensuring that your child has strong swimming skills and a good understanding of the ocean hazards are important skills to ensure safety and success.

Keep reading to learn How to Find the Best Kids Surfing Lessons

What are the Best Type of Surfing Lessons for Kids?

The most common type of surfing lessons are large group lessons, which may consist of 10-20 students. Large group lessons typically have a mixture of ages but they are usually geared towards adults.

The instructor to student ratio will vary for each company but the International Surfing Association, which is the world governing body for registered surf schools, has set a maximum ratio of 1 instructor to every 8 students.

As a parent, I would be more comfortable signing my child up for lessons with a lower instructor to student ratio. That way, each child is getting more instruction and a higher level of supervision in the water.

I have highlighted some other types of lessons below that may be a better fit and more fun for your child!

Kids Surfing Lessons

Many surf schools will offer programs or surf lessons that are geared towards kids.

Typically, the class sizes will be smaller and the instructor to student ratio will be lower so your child is getting more personalized instruction and supervision.

For most kid specific surfing lessons, surf schools may require your child to meet a minimum threshold.

  • For Ages 8 Years and Older
  • Able to Swim 25m-50m without assistance
  • Able to handle a 7 foot foam surfboard on their own

If your child is younger than 8 years of age or doesn’t have strong swimming skills then you may want to ensure that they are getting personalized supervision by a trained instructor.

Often, surf schools will offer classes for children younger than 8 years of age that have a 1:1 child to instructor ratio. This ensures added safety.

Kids Surfing Camps

Kids Surfing Camps can be a great way to for your child to learn to surf over a number of days. The repetition of a multi day camp will help your child build confidence, develop skills and meet new friends.

Kids camps are a great place to meet new friends. By learning to surf with peers, your child will be able to share the experience with kids their own age.

As well as building confidence and meeting new friends, surfing is a great cardiovascular exercise that occurs outdoors.

Surfing has been known to reduce stress and anxiety and if your child learns to enjoy nature at an early age it has the potential to become a life long sport and have positive lasting effects.

Family Lessons

Do you want to learn surfing at the same time as your child?

Family lessons, which usually consists of one instructor for 2-4 people, are a great way for your family to learn surfing together.

You will be right alongside your child in the water catching waves and having fun. You might even get to see them catch their first wave!

As well, family lessons can make parents more comfortable because you will be in the water with your child and can provide assistance if necessary.

After the lesson, you will be able to talk about the shared experience and create lasting memories.

One on One Lessons

One on one lessons can be a great way for your child to receive personalized coaching.

One on one lessons will really jump start your child’s development but for maximum benefit it is recommended that kids have some experience or at least understand the basic fundamentals.

In addition, child specific lessons mentioned above may be more fun for your child because they will be hanging out with their peers and meeting other kids.

What to Look for When Choosing The Best Surf Schools for your Child

With the more and more surf schools and surf camps popping up near beaches all over the world, it can be difficult to know which one to choose.

I have summarized some of the most important things you should consider when choosing a surf school or surf lesson for your child.

Trained Instructors

The most recognized industry standard for surf instructors is the Surf Instructor Level 1 Course developed by the International Surf Association (ISA).

This is the minimum level of qualifications for every surf instructor and the following requirements must be met.

  • Instructors must be competent surfers
  • Must log 20 hours of surf instruction
  • Must obtain a Valid Water Safety Certification from the Red Cross, YMCA or other nationally recognized certifications

Feel free to ask about the training level of each instructor including additional water safety procedures to ensure safety for all participants.

Fun, Supportive Environment

Make sure to look for kid specific lessons that are fun for your child. Ask other parents and read online reviews to locate the best surf school in your area.

When you call the surf shop to book the lessons, make sure to ask questions about the kids program, including the itinerary, activities and the instructor’s experience.

Make sure to ask about the age of other participants. Your kid may have more fun if they are in a kids programs with similar aged children.

As well, there are female only surf schools if your daughter would prefer to learn to surf with a group of girls.

How Many Surf Lessons Should My Kid Take?

If you find a surf school or surf camp in your area that your child enjoys, taking several lessons may be the best way to give them a positive start in the sport.

Enrolling your child in a multi day kids surf camp or taking 3-5 lessons will help jump start your child’s development and determine if it is sport that they want to pursue.

Meeting surfing friends, practicing the fundamentals and learning about ocean safety from trained instructors will be invaluable skills for your child to learn.

Don’t forget that the number one goal of surfing is too have fun! So don’t push your child if they don’t take to surfing initially.

It is perfectly natural for young surfers to build confidence slowly by boogie boarding or surfing a few times every summer until they are comfortable enough to take the sport seriously.

When I was a young child, we would camp near the beach every summer and I would play in the ocean, boogie board and live the “surfing life” for about a week each year.

When I was a teenager, I became more and more interested in surfing through these summer trips. Once I progressed to riding a surfboard in my teens, I became obsessed with the sport.

It took me several years to develop the necessary skills, and for my mom to become comfortable to let me surf on my own.

What is the Best Age to Start Kids Surfing Lessons?

Surfing is a challenging sport to learn.

To ensure a safe and fun experience, your child should have strong swimming skills and the physical strength to catch waves on their own. For most kids, the best age to start surfing is around 8-10 years old.

As parents, we often think that starting kids in sports when they are young will give them a better chance of success. But with surfing, ocean hazards and the potential for drowning are very real concerns if your child doesn’t have the swimming skills or comfort level in the ocean.

Knowing the best age to start kids in surfing reminds me of the famous saying “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

It means that although teachers and coaches can make a positive impact, it is the readiness or the willingness of the student that will dictate the success of the endeavour.

If you are looking for more information, feel free to click on the link to my article titled, A Helpful Guide to the Best Age to Start Kids Surfing

In Conclusion:

Although I have mentioned it a number of times, I want to say it again: Surfing is supposed to be FUN!

By attending kids specific surfing lessons and/or kids surf camps, your child will learn at their own pace and develop fundamentals in a supportive environment.

Surfing is a family friendly sport so you can sign up for a family lesson and learn together!

Go surfing, have fun, repeat!


I am the person behind Surfers Footprint. Thank you for taking the time to read through the post! If you want to know more about our story, scroll down and click on ABOUT SURFERS FOOTPRINT at the bottom of the HomePage.

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