Photo by KatLevPhoto via Flickr.
If you're in search of a fun weekday activity to do with your toddler this winter, look no more! With access to so many indoor and outdoor arenas these days, you could head out to a Parent and Tots skating program almost every day of the week. The best part about skating is that it's an activity accessible to nearly everyone; it's inexpensive, a great form of exercise and lots of fun for all ages.
Before you head out to the rink, you'll want to make sure your toddler has the right equipment such as properly fitted skates, suitable clothing (snow pants work well and offer a little extra padding to cushion falls!), and an approved helmet.
While learning to skate, your child will need skilled instruction and appropriate supervision, so if you have little confidence in your own skating ability, you may want to enroll your child in skating lessons. On the other hand, if you are a seasoned skater, you probably have the skills and self-confidence to teach your toddler the basic moves such as stopping, starting, falling down, getting up and gliding on your own. But if you've ever tried to teach a toddler how to skate, you know that the first few attempts can be particularly difficult; simply teaching your toddler to stand up on skates can take several sessions and can be especially hard on mom and dad's back!
Many parents have used chairs, cones and other tools to assist their first time skaters in becoming comfortable on the ice. Although some people may prefer to teach their children to skate without aids, I found using a skating sled prevented my toddler from becoming discouraged and gradually helped him build his confidence on the ice. The best skating sled that I've seen was at my Parent and Tot's Skating program in New Brunswick; so many parents in our skating group have found success with this sled that I asked my husband to come up with a drawing on how to build it. Keep in mind however, that community arenas have individual policies, so check with your local rink to see if they will permit skating sleds on the ice.
Even if you've never tried woodworking before, this is a very simple design to construct, and should take no longer than a couple of hours to make. All you will need is six, two foot long pieces of 1 x 3 lumber, several #8 x 1" screws, and two 8" x 5" x " plywood pieces.
I hope you'll find that this skating sled provides both you and your child with a sense of security when learning to skate. After just a few sessions, you will notice your toddler becoming more and more comfortable on the ice and will soon be skating unaided. Once your toddler has learned the basic elements of ice-skating, he or she will have the confidence and interest to further develop skills in other areas such as speed skating, hockey, ringette or figure skating, and build a life long love for winter ice sports.
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