We spoke to PADI Direector and Examiner Richard Somerset about the benefits of teaching your child to scuba dive.

As parents, giving our children the opportunity to enjoy the world around them is an incredibly exciting opportunity. Children are fascinated by new experiences and a plethora of hobbies await them. It can be also an understandably anxious time for us as parents – we want to ensure that our children can develop into new challenges safely and that the time they dedicate to learning new skills will benefit them in the future.

Every year, thousands of youngsters take the opportunity to experience scuba diving. This step into the underwater realm provides a unique view of the natural world. The experience of weightlessness and the chance to view the extraordinary marine world is something that no scuba diver will ever forget. In a world of computer games and TV stations, there is no substitute for interacting with nature first hand, and scuba diving provides a unique opportunity to do just that.

The world’s largest scuba diver training organisation, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) offers scuba training for children from the age of 10 years old and above. These can vary from simple introduction programs such as the Discover Scuba Diving experience, through to full courses resulting in a certification known as Junior Open Water Diver. PADI dive centres also offer dedicated pool based experiences for children aged from 8 years old upwards (known as the Bubblemaker courses). All PADI courses are focussed upon providing safe, enjoyable experiences for new divers. The courses develop the child’s confidence and understanding of the world around them, whilst instilling a sense of accomplishment and maturity. Students receive a certification at the end of the course to reflect their achievements.

PADI courses are conducted by experienced, highly qualified PADI members, who receive training in the conduct of courses for both children and adults. Scuba experiences typically begin with practise sessions in a swimming pool or confined water, along with some simple theoretical knowledge development. Depending upon the choice of program, student divers may then progress to taking their first underwater breaths in ‘open water’. All PADI courses follow strict standards and a tried and tested education model to ensure that learning is simple, effective and fun.

I was in the fortunate position of being able to teach my own daughter to dive after her 10th birthday in the warm waters of the Mediterranean. As we dived together over the reefs and shipwrecks of the Tuscan Islands, I was struck by how privileged I was to be able to show her the incredible marine world. Over the last three years we have dived together in Egypt, Italy, Malta and even on the south coast of the UK! When Bethany scuba dives with us, she displays new levels of maturity and ability, and every dive is a bonding experience.

PADI courses are offered by registered PADI dive centres around the world. These centres can be identified by visiting the website and entering your location of choice. It may be worth contacting more than one centre in order to find one that can best meet your needs.

Scuba diving is a low impact sport with an excellent safety record; to find out more about the courses that PADI instructors can offer, go to PADI or contact Rich Somerset rich.somerset@padi.com.