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Making bubbles in the water

The sensation of scuba diving is how I’d imagine it would feel to fly. You’re weightless, suspended in a world of turquoise and among creatures that glide past you with ease. The benefit of scuba diving is that you get to explore the 71% of the earth’s surface that is covered by water. Although Gauteng is a landlocked province with no access to the sea, you can learn to scuba dive in numerous lakes and swimming pools around the province. Legally, children from the age of 10 to 14 years old can take part in junior open water courses. They need to be comfortable in water, a good swimmer and of reasonable fitness. Training generally takes place in a deep, heated pool and once you’ve completed your training you will progress to a lake, dam or the ocean to qualify. If you’re not sure if this activity is for you, find out if the centre offers a free trial to help you decide.

where to go

AquaZoo They offer PADI-certified courses. Roodepoort. Contact: 082 788 0023, or visit
The Urban Dive Centre They offer PADI-certified courses, and children’s scuba birthday parties are also offered. Northcliff. Contact: 011 476 5172, 082 330 2848, or visit
Turtle Divers They offer NAUI-certified courses for adults and children 12 years and older. Benoni. Contact: 011 425 3914, 083 230 4975, or visit

Bonding with strings attached

Rock climbing is a social hobby that also provides a great workout. While a head for heights is a must, you don’t need to be super fit or strong to find it enjoyable. Apart from the fun and exercise, climbing is also a great way to build trust between you and your teenager – nothing builds trust more than letting them hold the ropes for a change. You might prefer to start indoors in a safe and controlled environment until you feel comfortable with the equipment and techniques. Indoor climbing also enables you to climb at night and offers protection from the elements. Most introductory courses will cover basic climbing movements, the equipment and safety. Rock climbing is generally done in pairs, with a lead climber and a belayer (who holds the rope), but you can also boulder, which is climbing without equipment. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and tight-fitting takkies. Most climbing gyms hire out gear, offer classes and organise supervised outdoor climbing trips.

where to go

Rockfit An indoor climbing gym in Sandton that conducts classes and monthly outdoor climbing trips. Contact: 011 262 4292, or visit
The South African Climbing Academy They offer courses, for parents of children who are already climbing, on how to safely take their children rock climbing. Contact: 083 669 3028, or visit
Wonderwall Climbing Gym An indoor climbing gym in Kya Sands. Contact: 011 708 6467, 083 501 8565, or visit

Talking in tongues

Learning a foreign language can open up a world of opportunities for you and your children. Along with learning the language they will be exposed to different cultures and will gain an increased global awareness. You might also want to learn a new language to get back to your roots or perhaps you’re planning a trip overseas. The earlier your child learns the better as children are more receptive and master pronunciation and native inflections quicker. Sharing the experience with your children will aid the learning process as it will increase opportunities for everyone to practise. Find out what your learning style is and try to make the learning process as fun as possible. Consider labelling household items in the new language and having dedicated days where you try to converse solely in this language. It is possible to learn the basics of a language within six months, especially for young children.

where to go

Alliance Française They offer French, Portuguese and Zulu lessons. Contact: 011 646 1169, or visit
Dante Alighieri For Italian lessons. They are situated in Houghton. Contact: 011 728 6782, 011 728 6727, or visit
The Spanish Academy Spanish lessons are offered at their academy in Highlands North and with their teachers based in Bedfordview, Sandton and Sydenham. Contact: 011 887 4009, 082 455 5341, or visit

Your personal soundtrack

Perhaps it’s finally time to start that family band. Playing a musical instrument is a great way to de-stress as it requires you to concentrate on the task at hand and enables you to forget about all your other worries. If you’re lucky enough to have a shared taste in music with your teenager, learning a musical instrument together may be just the kind of activity for you. Just as with learning to speak another language, learning to play a musical instrument has many advantages and requires a great deal of practise and discipline if you’re going to play fluently. Playing an instrument increases the communication between the logical and creative sides of your brain and is a skill that you and your teenager can take with you throughout your lives. Most music schools offer tuition in numerous instruments.

where to go

Bandstars and Guitar 4 All They offer structured group or individual lessons in guitar, drums, keyboard, piano and vocals. Kyalami. Contact: 083 350 5376, or visit
Fame Music Academy They offer lessons in drums, guitar, keyboard and vocals. Benoni. Contact: 011 849 0549, 082 341 0521 or
Play Music Lessons in guitar, piano, keyboard, drums, voice training, songwriting and music theory, offered in your home. They also offer a free trial class. Contact: 082 824 5742, 082 462 6511 or visit

Make it and mend it

Sewing is a rewarding craft for those who have patience and nimble fingers. It will also give your teenager a sense of pride when they wear items made with their own hands. Once you are nifty with a needle you will be able to create heirloom quilts, enhance your wardrobe and create personalised gifts. Sewing lessons are practical and for those who don’t mind making mistakes and starting over a few times. Most sewing schools will have a sewing machine that you can use, but you will need to take your own fabric. You are taught the basics and start with simple patterns, adding more complicated patterns and skills to your repertoire as you go.

where to go

Honeydew Bears If you already know how to sew, they will teach you how to make teddy bears. Honeydew. Contact: 011 764 4317 or visit
Learn How to Sew They offer sewing lessons in Randburg. Contact: or visit
Sew and Grow Sewing School Melville Contact: 011 482 6542, 082 568 7408, or visit
Sew Southern Africa Licensed instructors teach an easy-to-follow sewing curriculum. Contact: 021 200 0168 or visit

Photo hunt

Take your teenager on a road trip in search of the perfect photo. Photography is a great way to preserve memories and it gets you to view the world from a different perspective – appreciating the lines and colours and developing your patience as you sit and wait for the perfect shot. You are also able to express yourself creatively and document your life for future generations. Most photographic courses are practical with a bit of theory thrown in to reinforce the concepts. They will teach you to use your camera creatively and improve your photographic eye.

where to go

Colette Baillie Photography Contact: 083 779 7005, or visit
Cheese Photo Company They offer photography courses in Joburg and Pretoria. Contact: 082 655 4751, 082 775 5546, or visit
Jaci’s Lodges Photographic Safaris They offer courses by professional wildlife photographers for all skill levels held on Madikwe Game Reserve. The safari caters to a minimum of four people. Contact: 083 700 2071, 083 447 7929, or visit

Karate chop!

Perhaps the last thing you want is a teenager trained in mortal combat techniques on your hands, but martial arts will teach your teenager discipline and confidence and is a great way to improve fitness levels at the same time. Learning to master a new skill will boost your teenager’s self-esteem and make them feel more confident. Add to that the sense of empowerment through self-defence that you will both feel and this could be a really beneficial hobby for the family. Most martial art forms follow a syllabus and grading system, which can help you to monitor your progress and give you a sense of achievement as you advance.

where to go

Fighting Fit Central Classes in cardio kickboxing and tae kwon do in Rivonia, Emmarentia, North Riding and Bryanston. Contact: or
Shaolin Martial Arts Centre Training in kung fu. Contact Randburg: 011 787 2790, 082 412 9862, Bedfordview: 011 450 3952, 083 228 1538, Kempton Park: 082 859 5004, Northcliff: 072 024 8044, Olivedale: 078 238 7021 or visit
Stan Schmidt Shotokan dynamic karate lessons in Webber St, Sandton. Contact: 082 464 6424, or visit
Tapout Academy They specialise in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Northcliff. Contact: 076 364 4674,, visit or Facebook: Tapout Academy Kids
Warriors of Faith Martial Arts A Christian-based martial arts academy in Randburg. They offer classes for all age groups in kickboxing, Muay Thai and Krav Maga. Contact: 084 500 1510, 076 099 7654, or visit

Do the chukka

Not just for blue bloods, equestrian polo is a great family sport for active outdoor fun, and interacting with animals has numerous health and emotional benefits. Two teams, four players for grass polo and three players for indoor, beach or snow polo, compete on horseback to see who can score the most goals. The object of the game is to move the ball down the field with the aid of a long polo mallet, hitting it through the goal posts for a score and doing this within time periods known as chukkas. You would first start out with a private lesson until you feel confident enough to join a group. A lesson includes practical and theoretical training and covers everything from basic riding, safety, the horse and tacking. Young children can also take part in polo lessons, starting on the ground with a foot mallet and ball and finally joining Mom and Dad on the polo field once they start riding.

where to go

Gunsmoke Polo Ranch Bapsfontein Contact: 083 233 9097, or visit
Inanda Club A novice and children’s polo school in Sandton. The school is open to all riders and non-riders from preteens and upwards. Contact: 082 443 9951, or visit

For the thrill of it

If classes aren’t your thing or you and your teenager are looking for a once-off adventure, try these activities:

  • Find a Zorb park and take a roll
  • Fly through the trees on a canopy tour
  • Sign up for tandem paragliding
  • Rapp jump your way down a building
  • Take a tour on a quad bike, scooter or a Segway
  • Go microlighting
  • Race each other around a go-kart track

Simone Jeffery