Can You Skate, Can you Roll?
This is about the time when I really really really wanted Little B to learn skating but I didn’t have a clue about it myself. I tried so very hard to put her in a skating class, but just couldn’t find any near my place. Trainer from the closest one said that he doesn’t take kids below 6 years of age because they cannot wear their skating shoes themselves. I mean really?
But I was determined.
Back in Delhi, my friend Anu Sharma enrolled her 4-year-old daughter in a skating class. She was lucky enough to find a trainer for kids this age. She regularly started sharing with me videos of her daughter’s progress and the techniques she was learning. I looked at them and told myself, “if I can teach Little B cycling, skating looks way easier to teach.”
And so I started –
the task of teaching inline and roller skating to a kid
My daughter’s exact age at that time was 4 years 5 months. The first task was to find the best pair of skating shoes for her. I again went by Anu’s recommendation and got Oxelo convertible inline skates from Decathlon. Basically they are inline skates that can be converted into roller skates as well. I also bought a safety gear and a helmet to go with the skates.
The journey was smooth. For the first couple of days, I let Little B just walk with skate on while holding her both hands with mine. I realized that it is important that when we are giving support like this to the child, it should be done on both sides, i.e. hold the child from her/his both hands so that you provide balance. When I held Little B with just one hand, she always lost balance.
Then for the next few days she tried walking all by herself without any support. However, she was still walking.
Protective gear is very important. A couple of times Little B had a really bad fall. Thanks to her wrist, elbow and knee pads and helmet, she was always safe. That made her confident enough to take risks and keep trying. Otherwise, one bad fall can destroy the confidence of a child for a long time.
Then I showed her a couple of videos from my friend’s daughter classes and from YouTube to make her understand how to get started.
Another thing that I realized with my whole dare-do with Little B was that the most important thing while learning skating is learning balance, staying safe and enjoying the roll.
So again and again I emphasized Little B to not panic when the wheels start moving, but instead to enjoy the roll. I also lingered around her arm’s reach so she felt safe when the wheels rolled.
This simple exercise was the one she enjoyed the most. Basically the child needs to stand facing the wall. Then the child will push the wall, which will result in the child rolling away from the wall. The stronger the push, the farther away the child will go. Then the child will walk back to the wall and push again. This exercise helped Little B enjoy rolling. Initially she used to push just a little and thus rolled back just half-a-feet away. As her confidence grew, she started pushing the wall hard and used to roll back 5-6 feet and enjoyed it. (YouTube link to the exercise I am mentioning here. The video is a little shaky.)
I already love YouTube and I started loving it even more. Every day we watched a video and practiced skating like this together, Little B with roller skates and I without them!
After two months of practice, here was Little B roller skating!
As it happened, we went to Decathlon again and there asked Little B if she wants to try inline skates. She nodded her head nonstop and so we did. I was apprehensive, but she was able to walk in them comfortably.
So we came back home and Little B’s maasis (my sisters) converted her roller skates to inline. We started our practice with the inline skates just like we did with roller ones.
Another month and Little B is doing inline skating (with smaller strides right now) and learning balancing exercises like touching, jumping and stopping.
All together in 3 months and my daughter has got the hang of skating pretty well. To tell you frankly, I feel a little jealous. I can’t even stand straight wearing them and she is rolling in them!
There is something really special about these convertible skating shoes from Oxelo (can be found at Decathlon). They are sturdy, comfortable and pretty as well. Though they come on the higher price side when compared with the typical roller skates but they are worth every penny because they gave Little B the confidence that a beginning skater like her needed. Also, they are roller skates and inline skates in one, so you don’t have to buy two different types of skates.
These are the YouTube links that we found to be the most beneficial. I am mentioning them in order to how we used them. You can use them the way you and your child feel comfortable.
P.S. There is much more to skating and one day I might have to find a proper trainer for her. But till then, I found this way to be good enough to initiate her into skating and make her fall in love with rolling.