Select a properly fitted, age appropriate life jacket.
Don't Rock the Boat
Children age 6 and under should be placed in the canoe by an adult. The rocking or tipping of a canoe can be startling to young ones. Placing your young child in the boat ensures a safe transition from land to water. A brief explanation that the canoe will move with your movement in the canoe and the water lapping against the canoe should be given.
Engage Your Child
Let school age children have a paddle. Kid size paddles are available at most outdoor recreation stores and usually for under $20.00, as of 2009. Allowing your child to help move the canoe, even if for only a few minutes, is empowering and increases the likelihood he/she will enjoy the experience.
The Length of the Trip
Tailor the length of the trip to the age of your children. The younger the child, the shorter the trip. A first time venture out should be no longer than an hour. As your crew becomes more experienced, you can increase your paddle time, making sure to stop along the way for sight seeing, picnics and to stretch their legs.
Where to Canoe
Select a calm lake or river for your first outing. Choppy water and waves will be unsettling to children unfamiliar with the motion of the water against the canoe. The goal is to have your child want to canoe again.
Keep it Interesting
Avoid boredom by paddling close to the shore to point out sights of nature: birds, flowers, plants and animals.