There are many reasons to teach children how to sail.
Here is a list of the top 15 benefits:
· Learning through Discovery. Sailing teaches life skills through self-discovery. This is a very effective and interesting way to learn and is different from most educational methods used in school. By learning through self-discovery, people develop a thirst for greater learning as well as a deeper understanding of the subject.
· Decision Making. Sailing teaches and gets people comfortable with making real-time decisions. When faced with the changing courses of other boats and wind shifts, the sailor needs to constantly make decisions to safely maneuver the boat and to do so without time to discuss or contemplate. This is one reason the U.S. Navy uses sailing as a teaching tool to high school age NJROTC cadets and to Midshipmen at the Naval Academy.
· Self-Confidence. There is simply nothing like being able to pilot your own craft at the age of 8 years old. Riding a bike is one thing. Skillfully steering and docking a sailboat is quite another.
· Team Work. An analogy is to imagine having three people to drive your car, one person on the wheel, one person for the accelerator, and one person for the brake. To not properly work as a team on a sailboat will cause chaotic sail and boat behavior often causing the boat to turn out of control, or for a small sailboat to tip. That’s a lot of motivation to learn to work as a team.
· Communication Skills. Sailing demands accurate and clear and timely communication between every member of the crew. To not correctly communicate can quickly cause things to go wrong, such as falling behind on a race, or tipping the boat.
· Adventurous. Sailing creates a sense of adventure which combines curiosity and boldness and becoming comfortable to face new challenges. It does so while being fun creating the desire to enjoy new challenges.
· Risk Taking. Sailors whom race learn to take risks and become comfortable with taking risks. They also quickly learn the results of taking too much risk. Many young sailors will tip their boat on a warm summer day just for the fun of pushing the risk-taking beyond the limit. Learning small boat sailing on a sunny summer day in calm waters is where disastrous results of going beyond the limit can be fun.
· Responsibility. Taking command of even a small boat is a lot of responsibility. Not only are boats costly to purchase and repair, but being in any situation involving water has a certain level of danger. Even the youngest sailor learns the need to follow safety protocols, safe practices, using safety gear, and acting in a safe manner. Sailing is so much fun; all sailors are motivated to learn and follow the practices of safe and proper seamanship in order to keep sailing.
· Courage. To step away from the land into the marine environment powered only by the wind takes courage. To try to make a boat sail as fast as it can and to take risks in order to be victorious during a race takes courage. Sailors who are comfortable while sailing, especially in a racing situation have developed a deep-rooted level of courage.
· Shipshape habits. Sailing students learn how to properly rig and unrig a boat. Kids learn to put things away in the right place and keep them tidy while on the water, especially small boat sailing. It’s not that sailors are “neat freaks” it’s just that it creates a safer environment and is practical due to the rocking and heeling of the boat. That’s a skill no mom or dad can argue with.
· Perseverance. Sailing rewards perseverance. There is a good reason why many boats have been named Tenacity, Resolute, and Endurance. Success in sailing is often due to having steadfastness of doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving the object.
· Flexibility. A sailor must not be rigid in following a plan because the sea and weather are always changing. The sailor must learn a level of flexibility to be successful.
· Cognitive Skills. To communicate with a crew, manage the shape and trim of a sail, steer the boat, navigate the boat in the bay considering other boats, shoals, etc.; to do this in a changing environment with wind shifts, and tidal currents; to learn using every sense the human has while instantaneous problem solving; and to do so with the ease and comfort as taking a breath of the sea air. There is no better tool for teaching cognitive skills.
· Practical Mathematics. Velocity, bearing between boats, tracking distances, the real world experiences while sailing is so much fun that the sailor doesn’t even realize that they are learning mathematics such as geometry, as well as basic physics.
· Leadership. The sailboat is a floating leadership laboratory. Every sailor will have time as skipper and will need to take command and navigate and safely steer his boat among changing, often challenging conditions. Every sailor will have time working with a skipper, learning the adage before you lead, you need to learn to follow. The U.S. Navy sends its top high school NJROTC cadets to the Leadership and Sailing Academy so in a short two week period they can learn the leadership skills needed to return to take over command positions in their units. The Naval Academy will have its newest midshipmen have a similar experience during their first eight weeks of arrival because the sailboat is a very effective tool for teaching leadership.
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