How parents can prepare their kids for the ice

A white blanket of ice lies before eager little feet waiting to mark it up with their skate blades. This can be a very exciting time for a youngster. However, there are a few things parents can do to make it a little easier.

Eileen Christie, a parent of a young skater, recounts the early skating days with her eldest daughter Jennifer.

“I remember seeing a busy ice surface with lots of activity going on. Coach Christa was whizzing around from group to group and I liked that it was a community-based program. It was nice to see the older girls passing on their skills to the younger ones,” said Christie.

 Christie said she couldn’t believe how naïve she had been in those initial lessons. “If I

Ashya Siermachesky, age 3, is suited up and ready to take her skating lesson. There are many things parents can do to help make a child’s initial skating experience easy and fun.

Photo by Donella Swan
could wind the clock back and start over, I wish I had known a few things that I know now.”

One of the biggest anxieties for Christie was to learn to let the coaches handle the minor collisions or falls.

“They’ll call you over if you are needed. I remember Jennifer hissing at me one time after she had hurt herself, ‘Mom you didn’t need to come down. Christa was looking after me!”

With that being said, here are five simple tips from Christa Denton, who is a second-level National Coaching Certification Program coach under Skate Canada, to help parents with getting their munchkins ready to hit the ice:

1. Dressing warmly – wearing waterproof gloves or mitts, snow pants and a good heavy winter jacket is a necessity for first-time skaters. They will often spend a great deal of time right on the ice while learning how to stand up on their own, stop and just get the basic fundamentals down pat.

2. Bathroom breaks – A quick trip to the bathroom before stepping out on the ice is always a good idea. This way, beginners are not distracted from what is being learned during a session.

3. Protect the knees – wearing some sort of knee protection can make a huge difference. Falls are inevitable while learning to skate. By providing a buffer between the knees, which can be extremely sensitive to falls, little ones will learn to fall safely without as many tears.

4. Sharp skate blades can make all the difference in the skating world. Even brand new skates that have simply been taken out of the box need to be sharpened. Skating on dull blades is like driving with bald tires: there’s no traction and you’re not going to get anywhere too quickly.

5. Reward for effort – reward little skaters for being out on the ice for an extended period of time. Even small things like a sticker or extra words of encouragement can help them get more excited to return to the ice for the next lesson!

“These are just some helpful hints I have for parents who are getting their children out on the ice for the first time. I believe skating to be a great way to exercise and to have fun. Whether children are taking part in an organized skating program or learning from family members, it is important to make those initial experiences as happy and easy as possible,” said Denton.

dswan@cjournal.ca