Children and Diving
Almost all diving schools offer programmes tailored for children. Although the bottom age limit is usually specified as being eight, experience has shown that this might be too early due to insufficient development of physical and psychological abilities. A more acceptable age would be ten and over, depending on training and, most importantly, on the parents’ decisions. Programmes, such as CMAS offered by Dolphin Diver, Scuba Ranger in SSI, or Bubble Makers in PADI, are being used more and more frequently by diving clubs and centres around the world.
The value of such programmes lies in the development of activities and building up of responsibility in children, while learning a relatively difficult and complex activity. Upon completing the programme, children have more self-confidence and faith in their own abilities and are qualified to explore the undersea world with scuba diving adults and parents. When choosing a centre or club, it is important to find out if it offers programmes for children, as children will feel more at home, find it easier to adapt to and accept the activity if in a group of peers with whom they can share and exchange skills and knowledge gained. It is also a good idea if the group consists of children who know each other, as this will help motivate them into completing the programme.
Certain diving centres and clubs should be avoided, notably those: That do not have staff specially trained for working with children (children are not ‘little people’ and require a child-specific approach);
That do not have diving equipment in children’s sizes (children will not enjoy the experience if their equipment is too big; fitting them with a small adult size is not the solution);
Irrespective of standards and permission, it is up to the parents to decide whether their child is ready for such challenges and to evaluate the centre/club, and whether the training programme and instructors fulfil their expectations and trust in this respect.