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Teaching Your Kids to Dive: PADI Discover Scuba Diving Program

In the third of our series on dive programs for children, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the PADI Discover Scuba Diving Program. 

In the first two of our series on kids’ diving courses, we covered Bubblemaker and Seal Team. In these courses, participants must be at least 8 years old. If your child is 10 or older, the PADI Discover Scuba Diving program may help both of you assess readiness and ensure real interest.

PADI Discover Scuba Diving

We used to refer to PADI’s Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) program as the “Resort Course.”

It’s a great option if you want to be sure about the decision without investing in a full certification. DSD is also great if you’re on vacation and want your child to try scuba while you go diving. Further, many dive shops will apply the DSD cost to Open Water course tuition should you and your child decide on certification.

What will children learn?

This course offers a bit more freedom than Bubblemaker or Seal Team. It can occur in confined or open water — in a pool, off a beach, or even from a dive boat. To be clear, this is not a scuba-certification course, but instead a quick introduction to scuba diving. All activities occur under a PADI professional’s direct supervision. The instructor will emphasize the importance of staying close by, especially in an open-water environment.

During the course, the child will use a mask, fins, scuba tank, BCD with low-pressure inflator, regulator and submersible pressure gauge. The ratio of student to instructor for this course is 8:1 in a pool and 4:1 in open water. Sheila Shelton, IDC Staff Instructor for Texan Scuba in Huntsville, Texas, recommends that parents look for a program that offers a 2:1 or 1:1 ratio of student to instructor, however, so that the child can learn at his or her own pace.

As mentioned, this course is a bit more intensive and challenging. Children will learn breathing rules and equalizing techniques; how each piece of their equipment works; hand signals for underwater communication, regulator recovery and clearing; mask clearing; respect for aquatic life; and BCD inflation and deflation. They will eventually swim in gradually deepening water while monitoring air consumption. Kid will reach depth maximums of only 20 feet (6 m) in confined water and 40 feet (12 m) in open water.

The PADI Discover Scuba Diving program should give parents a solid indication of their child’s readiness for the Junior Open Water course since it exposes them to all common scuba equipment and some of the key skills they’ll need for diving. Parents should think about their child’s readiness for this or any course, however, especially if they sign up at a facility that offers the course off a beach or dive boat.