Ice skating is a lot of fun, and can be a great sport or activity that you and your children can enjoy for many years to come, but when is the right time to start teaching your kids how to ice skate? – And how is the best way to go about doing it?
Whether you wish to teach your children to play hockey, ice skate, or to have another skill/hobby, here are a few great tips.
How Old Should My Child Be to Teach them to go Ice Skating?
At what age a child can be taught to ice skate, and be safe as possible doing it, can vary quite a bit per child. Generally, most people say when your child can follow basic instruction and doesn’t mind being more than a few meters away from their parents they can start to be taught.
So for some children, this could be around age 3, for an average though, I would say around 5 or 6 they could comfortably begin.
The important part is that when you think they are ready to follow instruction well so they don’t get hurt and they won’t be too scared of trying it out.
After all, we do want to make sure that they enjoy themselves!
What Clothing and Ice Skates Should I Get?
For the most part, this is mainly a bit of common sense. You want your child to be warm, but at the same time to be able to be flexible. Jeans restrict movement, so you’re better off wearing sweats, or some leggings. Taller socks are better as well.
If you’re worried about your child’s feet being cold, then go for a little thicker socks if you wish, but you shouldn’t put multiple pair of socks on their feet because they will hinder them by cutting off the circulation in their feet a bit when they put the skates on.
You can purchase the ice skates for your child if you wish, however at that I find that it’s probably not worth it since their little feet grow so dang fast that you’ll be replacing their skates every year at minimum.
If you are skating on a local pond that may be your best bet, however, if you are going to a local ice skating rink, you are probably better off getting some rental skates for them instead.
When you get them, make sure they fit correctly. Ice skates should fit reasonably snug on your foot so that you have full control over the blade. If they are too loose, then it can make it hard to balance on the blade.
Most places that rent out ice skates will have them in sizes that will fit a child around 3 to 5 years old. It may be a good idea to call the place ahead of time though and ask them if they have rental skates available in your child’s shoe size.
Teaching Kids the Basics of Ice Skating
Rather than the “sink or swim” approach, teaching your child to skate is probably better to start off of the ice to get the basics down first.
Lace up their skates and let them get a good feel for them, and how to stand on them effortlessly.
Practicing the fundamentals are very doable off the ice. Have them walk back and forth in a short line, taking small steps.
It helps them learn to transfer their weight to each skate while getting a good feel for them.
Another vital thing to teach them is not to be so afraid of falling. It’s going to happen; it does to everyone at first. You want to make sure that they know how to properly fall if they feel themselves going down, that way it’s not so scary for them, and it can tremendously help in preventing injuries.
Teach them that when they feel themselves starting to fall it is better to control it rather than flailing their arms and legs about in a panic.
Fall slow, and collapse down where their side or bottom take the fall. Or even with their hands to catch themselves, but be sure to watch if they sprain their wrists that way.
If you think they are starting to get discouraged or frustrated, be sure to explain to them that falling is not a big deal. Everyone will fall from time to time, even the professionals that have been doing it for years.
Keep their spirits up, dealing with the frustration is all just part of the learning process.
Build Up to Learning How to Glide
Marching with small steps on the ice is a significant first step to getting them used to it and helps them learn faster than trying to walk on the ice.
Eventually, once they get the hang of it, you want them to soften their marching steps down and try to get used to keeping the skate on the ice rather than lifting it back up. This is an excellent beginning to learning how to glide.
Soon as they have this down, they’ll be gliding down the ice in no time at all!
Safety on the Ice
Helmets aren’t always available or required at many rinks, but its still a great idea to get your child to wear one.
Protecting their head from hitting the ice is immensely important. You don’t have to get any particular kind of hockey helmet or anything; just a standard bicycle helmet will do nicely!
If you want to get on the ice with your kid to help them out at first, it is not only a good idea, but I highly encourage it! Besides being there to help them, it also provides excellent parent/child time and helps them to remain more confident knowing their father or mother is there with them.
One thing, however, is PLEASE don’t be one of those parents that pick their kid up and carry them around on the ice. It’s just not safe. Remember above where I said even professionals fall time to time? It doesn’t matter your skill level; you can still fall.
You don’t want to have your child up in the air when you do or land on them.
Another thing is that if you are on the ice with your child, you should be wearing skates as well. Giving support and holding your child’s hand while they get started is a great idea, but if they start going down and you’re just wearing regular tennis shoes or something like that, you’re going down with them, or on top of them… Trust me.
Are Ice Skating Lessons Worth It?
They definitely can be. Depending on where you go it may be a one to a two-day lesson, or they may meet once to several times per week.
It can be an excellent start for many kids, whether you want to teach your child yourself, or if you think it would be worth having a more experienced teacher instruct them is up to you though.
Look at some of the reviews online if you want to make sure they are good or not beforehand.
The biggest thing is to have fun, and let your child enjoy the process of learning to ice skate. Be safe while doing so.
Hopefully, it will give your kid(s) something they can enjoy for the rest of their lives!