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Is there anything more joyful and carefree than watching your child run, their face to the wind, holding tight to the string of a colorful kite trailing behind and flapping in the wind? Flying a kite is a timeless and rewarding activity for people of every age. Here are some tips for teaching your children to fly a kite.
Select a Kite
It might be good to begin with a sturdy, inexpensive kite because the fact is, kites break easily and there’s nothing sadder than having a gorgeous, elaborate kite nosedive and break after the first time. Keep it simple in the beginning. Use the thinnest, strongest kite string you can find. It works best for little hands if you have a plastic or wooden string holder – that way the string can unfurl as necessary and your child won’t hurt herself on the quickly moving line.
Kites require wide open spaces – your child will need a lot of obstacle-free room to run and the kite will need a space free of wires and trees. Good places to fly are wide-open parks, unused soccer fields or play yards at school, and the beach. Watch out for places full of trees; trees tend to capture and hold on to kites – as do poles and wires, which could become dangerous.
You’ll also want to check the wind. Heavier kites may need more wind, lighter kites may be able to fly with less wind. Most kites will fly in winds between 5-10 mph. You can check out wind speeds on your local weather station or website, or just do it old school: are the leaves blowing? Are there flags waving? If so, you have enough wind. If the whole tree is swaying and the flags are flapping, it might be too gusty for kite flying.
1. Getting started:
Rather than running willy-nilly with the kite (and straight into that other kid), experts recommend you teach your child to stand with her back to the wind and hold the kite as high as possible, straight up – then gently let the wind take it. If there’s enough breeze, the kite will start to rise.
Your child will love the magical feeling as the kite begins to float in the air, and the string will slowly begin to unfurl. Allow the kite to take a little line, then tighten it. Continue back and forth — give a little, take a little, until the kite is launched.
2. Once it’s up:
* Watch the kite carefully.
* Don’t let too much string out. If there’s slack in the line, tighten it up a bit.
* To increase the altitude, gently let out more line and pump it a bit. Or try pulling the line in a bit and then letting it out.
3. Once you’re done:
* Slowly wind the string on your reel – if it’s coming down too fast, you may need to take the line down in giant loops, which you can then neatly rewind on the spool.
* Never fly a kite across a road. You don’t want to risk your child running across the road and if the kite comes down, it could blind a driver.
* Avoid trees and wires. If your kite gets stuck, have an adult help.
* Don’t fly near airports or high enough to be in a plane’s airspace.
* Never fly in an electrical storm.
Seeing a kite lift up out of their hands and into the air is one of the most memorable experiences you can share with your child. Have fun.
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