As we tumble through an age of overachievement, this is a question that has popped up, even more so after a number of videos went viral showing two-year-olds skateboarding or roller-skating like seasoned skaters. Roller-skating coaches are bombarded with similar questions from enthusiastic parents who want their kids to become skating prodigies. Training two-year-olds in skating takes less professional help than proper care and encouragement. If your little one is already enthused about skating, buy him a pair of safety wheels and head out to the street. If not, you may try to encourage him by showing him older kids in action. However, in the rush of excitement, do not forget to enjoy these baby steps with your kid. Your child may well be into other sports and not take fancy in skating- do not push them into something you like more than they do.
Best Age to Start Skating for Kids
In order to skate, one needs a good sense of balance and control over body movements. By two years, kids mostly do acquire these two parameters of skating. You can see that it is possible for a two-year-old to grasp the basics of skating from this video.
However, just because he or she can stand and walk (more like hobble around) doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready for skating. Also, ‘two-years-old’ is also a wide bracket of age- it could mean someone in the second year of his life or even close to the third (though proud parents seldom round off their kid’s age to the largest whole number). So, even though a two years and seven month old kid may be comfortable on a roller-skate, you’re almost but not yet two-year-old may be downright shaky.
Another obstacle in your two-year-old learning to skate is that kids of this age are not yet comfortable with strangers. This is often manifested in the different behaviors of kids of different age when dropped off at school- the younger ones tend to cry when left in the care of a teacher while the older ones do not have a problem with the association. So your tot may not be all that eager to go to a coach and learn skating.
Is my kid ready for skating?
The first thing you need to assess is whether your two-year-old is ready or not. If they can walk in skates (with the wheels locked down) on the floor, they will be able to skate.
As mentioned earlier, kids this young tend to cry if left alone with a stranger- the coach or trainer in this context. If your kid is okay with being handed off to a stranger, that is great. But if not and if you want your two-year-old to learn, it is best for you to take pointers from a professional and do the teaching bit yourself. Or enroll in a class together, if that is an option. Many urban areas have recreational clubs that offer parent-tot classes.
Your child also needs to be able to follow instructions that involve two or three steps. To test, ask them to collect an object, wipe it and place it on the table. If they cannot yet execute it, they may have difficulty following and remembering the techniques and safety protocols of roller-skating.
How to encourage your kid to Skate?
Sometimes, when kids are not interested, parents try to imbue the enthusiasm of something they are passionate about. However, their approaches often go awry, bordering on passive-aggressive. But here are some constructive things you can do to stroke your child’s interest:
- Take him out for a walk around the park or the street where young kids usually skate. If he is interested, he will ask yourself- or you can ask him if he wants to join them. But if he shows no interest and plainly says so, do not urge for a change of mind.
- If your kid is hesitant to skate, do not feed him unreal expectations to increase his interest. Telling him that he will soon be able to skate like some cool character in a TV show may result in him over-exerting and injuring himself.
- If you have an older kid, encourage him to sign up for skating. Watching an older sibling can instill interest in your tot.
- Once your child is enrolled in a class, do not interfere and shout instructions. For a little kid, concentrating hard on not falling down, that would be distracting and the reason for an injury.
- Teach your two-year-old the value of sportsmanship. Falling down, not being able to do well and cuts and bruises are all part of the game. Tell them that if they want to cry, they would have to take off their skates and wait until they are done crying before resuming skating.
- Finally, make it very clear that they are not under any pressure and they should decide themselves whether they want to continue the lessons or not.
Types of Skates for Kids
Roller skates are snug little shoes with wheels, usually four, place in a quadrilateral positioning- hence the name ‘quad’ style of roller skates. For beginners, these are ideal because at a stationary position, they do not require any balancing. Roller skates were developed from the original skates which were similar to ice skates, only with wheels in place of the blade (these are what we call ‘inline skates’ today). An advantage of roller skates over inline skates is that it is easier to brake due to the independent axles of the wheels.
Inline skates have a single line of wheels. These are more difficult to manoeuvre, but some of the designs incorporate a rubber brake to improve control. Inline skates differ on the basis of structure and design and each type is useful for a particular kind of skating like hockey skating, aggressive skating, speed skating etc.
Roller Skates (Quad) Vs Inline Skates
- Inline skates require different techniques so if your kid starts skating on quad rollers, switching to inline skates can be difficult.
- Quad roller skates are easier for young kids to handle because many of them do not develop the strength in their ankles to maintain balance on an inline skates.
- Quad roller skates are easier to maneuver and if your kid is skating indoors, it is a good option.
- Inline skates are faster and have a longer wheelbase and hence, more stable and easier to control.
- Inline skates absorb shock more easily, so if your kid is skating on a rough, bumpy road, inline skates are better than roller skates.
Inline skates have a boot which usually high and provides support for ankles. However, some skates use soft boot or lower cut for better ankle flexibility. Below the boot, there is a frame that holds the wheels. Professional grade skates use carbon fiber, extruded aluminum or magnesium- although cheaper, toy store varieties often resort to plastic (polyurethane) frames. Ball bearings are incorporated in the structure to allow for smooth and free movement of wheels and each wheel has two bearings. The wheels differ in size, but for kids, the 72-100mm diameter wheels are perfect. They are usually made of a durable plastic which does not wear away with use.
As your two-year-old is just learning to skate, it is obviously advisable to buy them the quad style skates which are more easily controlled. But if you intend to teach them inline skating in the future, be sure to buy a pair of good quality skates that will not break. Breakage of the frame or chipping away of the wheels may result in serious injuries. Also buy inline skates that have heel brakes and toe stops, which are added for safety.
Some of the popular brands that sell skates for kids include Fisher Price, Avigo, Bravo Sports, Little Tikes, Chicago, Roller Derby,Pacer, Dominion, etc. These internationally renowned brands can be easily bought on most online portals like amazon and ebay and come with a limited guarantee too.
Some Safety tips – Skating
Here are some tips and tricks that you (and your child) should pay attention to, to make the lessons a smooth affair.
- Safety equipments should not be neglected. For a young learner, a helmet, knee pads, wrist pads, elbow pads are indispensable. Even if your kid frets and doesn’t want to put the protective gear on, do not give in to this demand. As they say, better be safe than sorry.
- Teach your kid a safe position. Tell them that when they are about to fall, they should bend their knees and put their hands around their legs for more stability.
- Buy a pair of safety skates. These are flexible and can be adjusted to fit feet of different sizes. As two-year-olds tend to grow quickly, the skates will fit them for a reasonable amount of time. Also, the wheels of these skates can be locked, so that they turn into unmoving, stilted shoes. Make your kid march in small steps with the locked down safety skates. This will get them used to the shoes before they start skating.
- Arrange for a class. Although it is not unusual to self-learn skating and you may think you know and love skating enough to teach your little kid, a professional is always better equipped to give lessons.
- If you are taking your tot out to practice, pick a time when the streets are not filled with older kids, zooming around in their skates.
- Lend a supporting hand. Until your kid gets the hang of it, keep a hand on his or her back. This will reassure them and guide them as well.
- Pick a street that has no traffic. Also, do not practice around a corner where a vehicle may suddenly appear. Make sure you are able to see a reasonable stretch of road on either side from where your child is roller skating.
- Teach your child to stay on the side of the road or stick to the sidewalk. Safety first, always!
- Make sure your kid eats quick and high energy food like bananas and nuts. Keep them handy in case your kid tires out.