There is no set age when a child is ready to learn to rollerblade. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, by age 7 most children have the skills necessary for skating, but some acquire them quite a bit earlier and some later. If your little one stumbles around the living room like a drunken sailor while wearing nothing more challenging than sneakers, rollerblading should wait awhile. Once he demonstrates balance and coordination, it is safe to teach him how to rollerblade. Like children learn to crawl before they can walk, they must learn to stand in rollerblades before they can actually skate.
Do an equipment check. The skates should be snug enough so that your little one's toes touch the end of the skate while standing straight, but not when bending. The skate helmet must be snug enough so that it doesn't move while on the head. Wrist guards, knee pads and elbow pads are also necessary -- even if other kids aren't wearing them.
Demonstrate positions and techniques yourself, so your child can see what she needs to do. When she attempts the move herself, move her arms and legs into the proper position so she can feel the correct form.
Practice balance. Have your child walk in tiny steps with his toes pointed out and heels close together. This is the position he will use while skating. Stand next to him and have him stretch out his arms while you hold his hand until he feels confident to walk on his own.
Show your child how to stop. Once she gets rolling down the sidewalk, it's too late to try to squeeze in this lesson. Teach your child to stand in the ready position, with her feet up to 4-inches apart, knees bent, arms stretched out in front and spine straight to prepare for braking. Have her roll her braking foot to engage the brake.
Teach the proper way to fall. Show your kiddo how to bend his knees and fall to the side. Make sure he is aware of the importance of landing on his pads. Because a 5-year-old is short, he doesn't have that far to go to hit the ground, but learning the proper way to get there will make the experience less traumatic. Explain that if he feels like he's falling while skating, grabbing his knees can help him regain his balance and prevent a spill.
Let your preschooler roll. Show her how to propel herself forward using the same steps she used to practice walking. You may need to hold her hands while she skates to help her keep her balance until she gets used to the feeling.
Take your rollerblader to an indoor rink, a park or a spot with flat sidewalks and little foot or bicycle traffic to practice her new skill once she demonstrates that she's ready to move to the next step.
Items you will need
- Wrist guards
- Knee pads
- Elbow pads
- You should teach your little one how to rollerblade on carpet or in the grass until your child feels comfortable rolling, moving and braking in the skates.
- Practice walking in, and becoming familiar with, the rollerblades for about 30 minutes a day until your child seems competent to move to actual skating.
- Be encouraging. Tell your new skater what a good job he is doing as you go along to help him develop the confidence to skate.
- Make sure the helmet you purchase is certified and made for skating.
- Do not wear skates while teaching the initial steps so you can readily react if there's a problem.
- Avoid taking your child to places with inclines where the speed may be too much for her to handle.
- Do not allow your child to skate near roadways, or without adult supervision.
- Child Magazine: How to Teach Your Child to Rollerblade
- Raising Children Network: Bicycles, Scooters and Skateboards
- Central Park Skate Patrol: Heel Brake Tutorial
- Get Rolling: Anti-Wobble Drills
- The Inline Planet: How to Buy Your First Pair of Inline Skates
- Healthy Children: In-Line Skates Safety
- Healthy Children: Skateboarding and In-Line Skating
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: For Parents: Bicycle, In-Line Skating, Skateboard Safety
- Pediatrics: In-line Skating Injuries in Children and Adolescents
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