How To Teach a Child to Ice Skate
Ice skating is a fun activity...
...that gets kids physically active and teaches them a lifelong skill. Get started teaching your kids with these 5 tips. Teaching a young kid to ice skate is fun for both parent and child. Although most children do not express an interest in ice skating until they are at least three years old, any child who can walk can technically learn to skate. If your child wants to begin learning, be sure to work carefully with them, teaching them both the technique and safety involved in ice skating.
Dress your child warmly, but correctly.
A jacket, gloves and a helmet. Skip the snow pants; the slick material makes it harder to get up from falls. Stick to one pair of medium socks. Anything thicker and the boot won’t fully tighten. Either figure or hockey skates are fine, but stay away from double runners. They have no edges and slip and slide too much. When you buy skates, always have your child with you to try them on. You want her ankles to be straight up – they’ll be that way on the ice. Lastly, make sure that the blades have been sharpened.
First, teach your child how to fall.
He’s going to do it often. Have him bend his knees, lean to one side and gently go down. To get back up, have him kneel on both knees and, while keeping his back straight, bring one skate up onto the ice and push down on that knee. He’ll pull himself up and bring the other skate onto the ice.
Start with little steps.
Lift one foot. Put it down, then lift the other. She’ll get a feel for the blade on the ice and for shifting her weight. Have her hands out in front and pushing down, as if she’s pushing down on a table, to help maintain balance. With confidence, she can start to glide with both blades on the ice. To build up speed when she’s ready, and with knees bent and feet together, have her bring one skate behind her and push off with the inside edge of the blade. During all of this, stand either to her side or in front of her with your hands under her hands. Just avoid taking only one of her hands in the name of assistance. It will throw off her balance.
With increased speed comes the need to stop.
Before you teach any technique, have him stand and, with feet together, have him push out the inside edge of each blade to get a feel of shaving the ice. Once he has that, have him stop by doing a snow plow, bending his knees, bringing his toes together in an inverted V, and pushing down with his hands to maintain balance. After the plow, with his legs together and knees bent, have him put his weight on one leg and have the opposite skate slide out.
Keep your feedback positive, stressing the progress that’s been made.
Keep initial lessons to 25 minutes. Kids’ bodies start to hurt after that point.
Safety Tips That Will Keep You Gliding All Winter
Never skate alone.
In any emergency, you’ll need someone else’s help.
Check the ice surface for cracks, holes or debris.
At lakes and ponds, walk around the perimeter of the area you want to skate and look carefully at the ice. It should be smooth, thick, blue or clear-colored, with ice that looks at least 6 inches thick. Light grey, dark black or slushy ice is not safe. The ground around the edge of the ice should be frozen, with no flowing water near the edges of the ice. If the surface looks safe, slowly skate the outside area, looking and listening for cracks. Go slow and back away if you encounter thin ice.
Contact local police or the fire department for conditions at a skating pond.
Only skate on ice that is monitored for safety.
If while skating, the ice starts to crack beneath you, get down on all fours (distributing your body weight evenly), stay low and crawl to safety.
Make sure to bookmark the Boston, Massachusetts Ice Skating Guide
Looking to keep skating through Summer? Check out the Greater Boston Vacation and Summer Camp Guide
Excited to practice!
Our first lesson with our 5 year old was awesome. We used the tips at the William Chase Arena in Natick and they really helped! Especially practicing how to fall. We practiced "falling" with our daughter at home the day before the lessons, and she wasn't scared when she did it on ice. We can't wait to keep practicing. Thanks!
Dancing On Ice
From the age of 3 we couldn't keep our daughter off the ice. She absolutely fell in love with ice skating. Both watching the ballerinas on ice on television, or going to the local ice rink or ice pond. She loves it! Your article helped inspire us as well as provided a wealth of resources to continue her education. Thanks!