Now that you have decided that ice skating is a viable option for your child, what are your next steps in providing them (and you) a great ice-experience?
- Talk First, Lessons later. Sit your potential skater down and ask a few pertinent questions. The following are a good start:
- Why do you want to skate? Answers can be anything from “it looks like fun” or “my friend skates” to “I want to look like Elsa and be an ice princess.” Movies over the years, like “Ice Castles” and “Frozen,” have inspired so many children to try skating. Many take that passion to high competitive levels or fulfill royal dreams with a professional touring company. Fun and group participation are positive answers
- Do you want to try skating before we decide on lessons? This is a gimme. If they want to skate, a trip to the local rink is exactly where you should go. You can find your closest ice arena with a basic skills program here: https://www.learntoskateusa.com/. This hands-on experience will give you the opportunity to watch and assess whether your child is ready and gage reactions.
- Take a Test Drive. If someone in your family or group of friends can skate, arrange with them to attend a public session with your little one if you prefer not to be on the ice. Rent skates — avoid the temptation to use old hand-me-downs, which may not be sharpened or offer enough support. Know the appropriate size before heading to skate rental; there will most certainly be a line. Now, be an encouraging observer. Mastering skills takes time, so it’s most important to watch for the willingness to try. Smiles and laughter are a dead giveaway, as are tears and hysterics, about whether skating will be in your family’s future.
- Consider their opinions. Ask a few questions while you are removing their skates. Did you have fun? Do you think you would like to take lessons? The experience will be fresh and you will already be at the arena to check out the Learn to Skate schedule. Excitement is hard to contain, but pouts are worth investigating. If the experience wasn’t perfect, find out how it could be better. It could be as simple as no nap, the wrong size skates, or a friend couldn’t come. Maybe you need to try again under better circumstances.
- Follow through. Go to the front desk and inquire about the lesson schedule. Ask both your questions, and your skater’s. The more both of you know may help calm any last-minute “cold feet” and provide the rest of the info you need to complete the process. Grab some of the printouts and brochures with lots of smiling skaters that are usually available at the front desk. These things will make great reading material for your new skater on the ride home and encourage conversation. Basic skills programs usually have websites for you to sign up online, so when you decide on a schedule that works for your family, put a sticker with the day and time on the brochure and post it on your family message center, usually called the refrigerator.
Whew! You did it! I see a great deal of ice in your future. Your next step is to see what your skater will need before taking the ice. Skaters Landing’s informative Buyers Guides and the list of requirements from the rink can provide all the answers and equipment that you need.