Roller skating is a pastime enjoyed by many, both because of the carefree fun it brings and because of its health benefits. However, while it’s a much loved activity, one children are keen to try out quite early on, the recurring question is when is the best age to start roller skating?
Although age plays a part, balance is the key to your decision. This is why between four and five years old are seen as the right age and good starting points to learn skating, as this is the age range when their balance becomes innate to them.
It’s natural for many parents to be nervous introducing their children to new activities, especially ones that we more readily associate with injury, e.g. climbing, bike riding, etc. Nevertheless, while the odd scrap may occur, introducing young kids to more physical activities at an early age is in your best interests.
This is because of brain development at this early age. When you become an adult, the way you approach new experiences becomes slowed down, due to how developed our prefrontal cortex is. We understand the world around us more due to this development, but it also means we’re more inclined to be stuck in our ways and less eager to learn.
For children however, this part of the brain is still very much in its infancy, thus there’s an element of carefree eagerness to the way they learn. Not forgetting that children also learn faster because of their prefrontal cortex not being as developed.
In addition to this, you also have the fact that most kids are naturally fearless, meaning the notion of potentially getting hurt while trying something new isn’t as daunting to them as it may be to an adult. For example, children will rush to climb up a tall slide or go higher on the swings, whereas an adult might be more cautious.
But keep in mind that the different skills such ad motor skills and coordination may vary from one child to another according to their development level – which is completely natural.
Teach The Basics
Before you even put the skates on their feet, you need to make sure you have all the right equipment in order to teach them.
As well as the kids roller skates themselves, you will need elbow pads and knee pads, wrist guards, a helmet, and a mouthguard if you wish to add an extra layer of protection to your child’s safety. This may sound like overkill, but this is the same amount of protective gear that an adult skater would wear.
One of the best ways to set younger kids up for success when first starting out, is to get some skates for kids and teach them the basics.
This means there’s going to be a lot of time spent on helping them simply learn to find and maintain their balance point while wearing their roller skates. Due to this new sense of movement being new to them, it’s best to have young skaters practice walking around in their new skates, on padded ground such as grass and/or carpet, to help them get used to the sensation.
You’ll also want to teach them the proper skating stance early on, which is to keep their knees bent and for them to always be slightly leaning forward. Depending on the age of your child, this part of the process may take longer than others, however, it’s easily the best way to ensure they process with greater ease.
Once your child feels confident with walking in their roller skates, this is the ideal time to begin getting them to roll on them. Depending on how comfortable your child feels, you can either hold their hand while they do this, or allow them to try it out themselves. Again, for beginner skaters practicing on carpet or grass is best, depending on whether you are indoor or outdoor skating.
Eventually, as soon as they have started skating properly, you’ll then be able to introduce them shifting from one foot to the other, while moving forwards.
Overall, it’s continued practice and patience that will help your child to learn and succeed at their own pace. As well as your ability to move past any falls they may experience; when your child falls over, encourage them to keep on learning. If you show fear, they can easily learn to be afraid and nervous about continuing to learn.
Roller Skating is a Good Introduction to Other Sports
Moving on from how to get your little ones started, let’s look at the other benefits that teaching them to roller skate at a young age brings.
Roller skating is a skill that can easily be applied to other sports, such as ice and inline skating (also referred to as roller blades) or roller derby. This is why teaching your child to learn this activity isn’t just fun it’s also of benefit to them as they get older and try new things.
Naturally, given the difference between design and where they’re used, ice skates do differ slightly from quad roller skates. For example, the point of contact on these skates is much more precise and smaller in size than with quad skates. Inline skates have their wheels arranged in one single line.
Nevertheless, a lot of athletes who ice skate regularly believe that roller skating when you’re off the ice is a good way to keep on top of your training and performance.
The reason for this is because it still encourages you to work on your balance and coordination. Granted, the environment in which you learn is different, but essentially you’re moving on your feet in a way that isn’t natural to you.
Therefore, if your child learns to roller skate, should they ever go to the ice rink, be that with yourself or with friends, they should feel more at ease when they step out onto the ice. This isn’t to say they won’t struggle at first, but that they’re be better suited to the task because of their experiences elsewhere.
There’s a reason that people say that roller skating is loved by all ages — it’s because all ages can learn it.
Provided your child is able to maintain balance when walking, e.g. at preschool age, then they shouldn’t have any problem in learning to roller skate. In fact, given how fast their brains are developing, learning when they’re young is the ideal time to do it.
Furthermore, roller skating is a skill that can be transferred to other activities, such as ice skating, thus making learning additional activities easier in the long run.