Today was the day. I’ve waited years before I started to teach my kid how to skateboard. Many times I thought about how cool it would be if we could skateboard together.
I’ve been patient, you shouldn’t teach your kid skateboarding below the age of 5. And if you do you really need to, closely monitor them and stay with them because their bodies can’t take an impact yet. Their bodies aren’t ready, their skeletons are fragile and their muscles aren’t strong enough to deal with impacts.
There are probably exceptions, but just like many, my kid is just an average human being and I don’t want to rush anything. This is a long post so here’s a summary. Kids pick up skateboarding pretty quick. Here’s how you teach your kid how to skateboard.
- Start by practicing on a patch of grass or carpet. This will prevent the skateboard form moving.
- Let them jump on and off a couple of times. When standing on the board their feet should be near the bolts.
- Make them lean forward and backward by using their toes and heels. Make sure they bend their knees a little.
- Once comfortable ride them around while holding their hands and find out which foot they prefer in front. Ask which direction they feel most comfortable with.
- Stand next to your kid and let them place their preferred foot near the bolts of the trucks.
- Tell them to slowly move forward by just walking, do this for a couple of minutes. You can either hold their hand or let them do it themselves. Always stay close.
- Once they can ‘walk’ a little tell them to take one step and put the other foot on the board. Rinse and repeat and they will pick it up.
The first day of skateboarding with my kid
My son is 6 years old and a couple of months at this moment. I took him out today and he already loves watching me skateboard. I always took him with me when I went skateboarding so it’s not completely alien to him. I don’t want to push him.
He’s just 6 years old, gets distracted by bugs and pretty butterflies. Even pebbles distract him, he jumps off his board and says “hey daddy, look at this cool rock!”. Yeah awesome buddy, just get back on your board and follow the instructions!
Nah, I just look at the rock and say I it’s a great rock. The thing is with kids at that age, especially boys, get distracted easily. The world’s full of wonders and there are so many interesting things going on which we as adults often forget and ignore.
So here’s how I do it. I teach my child skateboarding by being patient. I don’t need him to be the best, it’s all about fun. We go to our tiny local skate park, I load up our car with his scooter, protective gear for me and him both, some tools, water, and positive energy.
Always stay positive, I was ecstatic today, he did his first push and ride after ‘2 days’ of practice. I think it was only 30 minutes in total, but he did it! So I’ll quit bragging about my kid because your probably looking for information on how to teach your kid how to skateboard. I’ve been skating for a while, I grew up with it. I had to teach it myself because there was no internet in the 80’s, let alone Youtube videos.
I remember buying my first skateboard, I saved up for it I just wanted to skateboard because I saw a Coca-Cola commercial of some guy doing a kickflip. I was amazed, this is sorcery, this can’t be real. I must have a skateboard!
If you have a background in skateboarding involve your kid from an early age. Make them familiar with it, take them with you if you go skating. You don’t have to be a pro, even if you can just ride comfortably your kid will be impressed. They’re also impressed by the pretty flowers, bug, and butterflies. Just don’t ever pressure anything and let them explore!
Start on a Patch of Grass or a Piece of Carpet
Starting on a piece of grass is an excellent way to learn to balance and feel the board. I put his and my deck on the grass and wiggled the skateboard and told him to repeat. I just lifted him up and placed him on the board. Make sure his feet are positioned properly. I gave him my old skateboard which is an adult size and went from there.
I told him to lean forward and backward just to get a feel for your board. We’re not going to skate today, I told him. Starting on grass is a great and safe way to feel how a skateboard reacts to the movements of your body. Let your kid lean forward, backward, jump on jump off. Kids pick this stuff up so fast, it’s ridiculous. I think it didn’t even last 5 minutes before he went off again to chase some beetle he just spotted.
The second time I took him to the local skate park we’re only scooter kids are at it and we got back on our boards. We skipped a day because I’m an old man and I was a bit sore. But this time I got it right. We first practiced on the grass a little but more, feeling the board, leaning forward, jump on, jump off, and then the first baby steps. Next step was to determine which foot he prefers in front.
Favorite Foot, Is Your Kid Goofy or Regular?
One of the most important things is finding out which foot he prefers in front. Now with an adult, this is pretty easy to find out, but with a kid, this is more challenging.
I tried the Braille method and told him which foot would prefer in from if he ran and there was an icy road in front of him. I ran and jumped the way I would do it and let him do it after me. Two out of three times he put his right foot in front, so I figured he favors goofy stance (unlike his dad).
I still wasn’t too sure about what foot he prefers so I just put him on the board and moved him forward and backward. Told him to keep his back straight and bend his knees. I rode alongside him while holding supporting his hands. You can also just walk and hold your kids’ hands, slowly walk and move in a forward direction.
This is how you figure out which direction he prefers. Just hold both of his hands and move him both directions. Your child will tell you which direction they prefer. It’s not really about if they’re right or left handed, it’s about what makes them feel the most comfortable. I noticed his right foot in front was the most comfortable and now it was time to start doing the first pushes.
Learning Your Kid How to Push a Skateboard
So since I was pretty confident knowing he prefers goofy stance (right foot in front), It was time for the next step. Pushing your skateboard. I told him it’s just like walking but instead of regular walking he just had to walk using one foot while putting the other foot near the bolts on his deck. Here’s the gist of it:
- Place the front foot in the proximity of the front bolts. The front foot should point forward.
- Hold their arms so they don’t lose balance.
- Tell your kid to walk real slow (it’s sort of like limping) and practice this for some time.
- Ask your kid to make one step using the back foot and then place it on the board.
- Tell your kid to move his front foot sideways and bend the knees. This also may happen naturally.
- Never ever let them place both feet next to each other parallel to the length of the deck, it’s just dangerous.
I grabbed my skateboard showed him how to do it. I told him to bend his knee a little and use the other foot to walk, real slow while I was holding his arms.
It only took five minutes and he got the idea. Now, his foot placement was a bit concerning, he put both of his feet really close when he got on the board so I made sure to explain what happens when you do that. I even showed him losing my balance and how it will cause me to fall.
I repeatedly told him to ben his knees a little and face the direction he wanted to go, straighten his shoulder and go from there. That really worked, I showed him how to do it over and over again and he actually did it. He pushed, put his foot on the board and he made his fist ride. I was more proud than when he took his first steps.
He did it a couple of times more and I can’t tell how many high fives I gave him. This was his second day of skateboarding, probably on the board for 30 minutes in total. Kids pick up things so fast if you let them. I don’t need him to be a pro skater, I just want to teach him something that he can enjoy for the rest of his life. And even if he loses interest, that’s fine.
Find a Slope Which Isn’t Too Steep
Once your kid has some balance and can ride a little you could consider finding a slope and start practicing downhill. Let your kid just sit on the board first to build up confidence. It’s actually quite fun and we do this regularly. Make sure they at least wear a helmet and knee pads. Inspect the slope for rocks, twigs, and glass that could block the wheels.
Walk a bit up the slope (not all the way up, start slow), block the board with your feet and help your kid to stand on the board. After that just let go (don’t push) and run alongside to catch your kids if he falls. After a few times, your kid can do it on its own. Make sure they have a skateboard that is properly equipped with quality parts. The wheels need to be of good quality to prevent them from falling. If you’re looking for a skateboard for your kid and don’t know what to get, check out my detailed guide.
Try to Skateboard Together
The way I currently skate with my kid is by him making a few pushes and I follow. Once I’m close enough I give him a gentle push and he loves it. We also practice falling by rolling into the grass, this helps him to feel how the board responds and how to react. We now skateboard once are twice every week depending on the weather. He’s making some progress and the more we practice the better we both get. It’s a fun and healthy exercise. I don’t have a GoPro so the video is a bit shaky sometimes.
Make Sure Your Kid Wears Protective Gear
I probably don’t have to mention this but please make sure your child wears full protective gear. Helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards. It will boost their confidence and won’t make you feel sorry when your child falls down and gets an abrasion.
It’s really important your kid doesn’t associate skateboarding with pain. It will discourage them, and it needs to stay fun. At least get a helmet and knee pads.
If they do happen to injure themselves, comfort them but don’t make a big deal out of it. It happened to my kid wearing a set of cheap protective gear which was just total garbage. His knee protectors were too big, couldn’t fit the wrist guards and the knee pads slipped off. I put his elbow pads on his knees and he has a top quality biking helmet so at least he was safe. Of course, he fell right on his elbow. Here’s the aftermath:
He also hit his knee, and the gear did its job. No abrasions there, and he was perfectly ok. He cried. I felt sorry for not providing him with proper gear but told him he did great.
I got him back on the board again without being a pushover and he accepted. I was glad he did because kids can be difficult. I just wanted to get him back on the board to make sure he didn’t have any negative feelings towards skateboarding.
I’ve learned to not ever stop doing something you like because there’s some discomfort. You need to do it again otherwise you’ll build up fear and you’re scared every time you’re back in that type of situation.
So he got back on his board and we did the same exercise for a couple of minutes until he got distracted. Fine, go and do the stuff you want to do. I’ve waited for 6 years, I can sure wait right now.
A Couple of Tips for Parents to Teach Your Kid Skateboarding
So I’ve rambled on about my experience but here are some tips to get you and your kid going. Again if you don’t have any experience in skateboarding just make sure you stay close. Kids at a very young age should be monitored closely at all times. They tend to forget their limits and try to pull off crazy stunts and harm themselves. Make sure they place their feet near the bolts, bent their knees a little and face the direction they want to go to.
Involve Them at a Young Age
I always made sure my son noticed I loved skateboarding. Never pushed him but always took him along and showed him what skateboarding is about. He usually just was distracted and had no idea what was going on which is fine. I just made him familiar with the sport, or some call it an art. I took him to skate parks, hardly got any time done skateboarding but at least he was there. He often got bored quickly which is perfectly fine.
Protective Gear for Confidence
Get your kid proper protective gear, kids are fragile and to make sure they keep enjoying the activity. Make them wear protective gear. If they get used to it at a young age they won’t start arguing about wearing any. Sure they might stop wearing elbows pads and wrist guard, but make sure they have their head and knees protected. The gear also helps in getting them more confidence. If yet aren’t scared they will learn faster. They shouldn’t be too confident though.
Take It Slow
The key is to take it slow. If they really don’t want to learn stop and save it for another day. I’ve tried many times over the years, not too seriously. I just grabbed the boards and we played around a little, stroll around on one knee and push with the other foot, that sort of stuff. I didn’t even want him to learn how to skateboard at that age. He usually lost interest after a couple of minutes. There’s a right time an place for everything, and if your child doesn’t want to skateboard, fine.
It’s hard, I know. It was never my intention to teach a 4-year-old how to skate. Just showing him some tricks and move on. I did extensive research to find out the right age to teach skateboarding and it turns out, the pros were right. There are always exceptions, but I think just letting him be part of it really helped.
Schedule, Do It Regularly
Kids forget stuff, I don’t know how muscle memory works at a young age but if I wait for a few weeks, my son has to start over again. Take swimming, for example, he still needs to get his first official swimming certificate, and if I skip a day he completely forgets what he learned the week before. Keep at it, try to skateboard at least 1 time a week. This way he’ll remember and won’t be scared.
Show Videos and Make Videos
Show your kid skate videos they can relate to. You don’t have to show them all the cool pro tricks, they don’t care. They need something relatable, just search for kids and skateboarding. My kid loved seeing kids his age skateboard. The adult stuff is just boring to him and he gets distracted, can’t blame him.
Video everything and show them, it’s great feedback and they love seeing themselves. Watch it together and point out what your kid did right and what parts to pay attention to.
Almost forgot to mention this but proper clothes really matter. In order to skateboard your kid need to be able to move. Maybe the most important things when it comes to clothing are proper shoes. Make sure you get them some shoes that help them feel the board.
You don’t need to buy expensive Vans kids shoes but at least something that enabled them to have close contact to the board and some soles with cushioning. My kid wears cheap shoes but they are sturdy and don’t have a huge heel or thick sole.
No Cheap Walmart or Target Skateboard
As a skateboarder, I know what a quality skateboard is but it’s harder for the untrained eye. I wouldn’t recommend buying a skateboard at Walmart. It’s harder to learn to skateboard if it’s a toy deck. Not saying it’s impossible, it may be good to use for a month or so and then get something better once your kid seems to like it.
To be safe, just buy a skateboard at your local skateboard shop. The cheapest option would be a blank skateboard, which is perfectly fine. You can also consider buying a complete skateboard or assemble one from different parts. If you don’t have a shop nearby consider these skateboards, I carefully selected a few complete skateboards that are suitable for kids between 5 and 11. They go from $60 to $100.
A professional adult size is always a good choice, it provides so much stability and they’re not going to do any tricks at this age. Once they are a little used to skateboarding and learn to balance you can always get a kids sized skateboard.
If you don’t have a skateboard you could consider getting a kid-sized board or borrow one. A smaller size skateboard like the one my kid is great though. He doesn’t hit the sidewall of the skateboard anymore when he’s pushing.
Don’t Pressure Your Kids
Rule number one. Never ever pressure your kids, don’t get angry don’t get frustrated let them do their thing and if they want to stop, that’s fine. If you’re a skater yourself you know there isn’t any point in practicing a trick for three hours and still not nailing it. It just means this isn’t the right time to do it, or you’re not at that skill level yet.
Reward your kids for skateboarding. Don’t mention it like, “if you skateboard today you get ice-cream”. Instead, when the session is over go for some ice-cream and tell your kid he did great. If you bribe them they aren’t skateboarding for fun but for the rewards.
Visit Skate Parks Early in the Morning
Take your kid to your local skatepark when it’s not too crowded. Early in the morning is probably the best time. Going on a busy will only intimidate the kid. If you don’t have a local skatepark look for a quiet place like an empty parking lot.
Make sure to skate on a smooth surface, scan the area for glass, pebbles, twigs or whatever can cause a dead-stop. Clear the area of stuff that may cause a fall. It’s important they don’t fall much, it will happen but try to stay close so you can catch them.
Just comfort them, tell them how awesome they did and act flabbergasted about their performances. I’m pretty down to earth but when it comes to kids I’ll try to put as much of positive energy and never tell them they did something wrong. I point out about what they can improve and what they do right.
I would hate for my kid to get discouraged and get back to playing Minecraft (which is an awesome game btw). It’s just you and me and our skateboards and nothing else matters!
Don’t ever push the skateboard with your foot, just hold their arms and move alongside with them. Pushing their skateboard directly will cause them to lose their balance.
I’ll be sure to update this post with the progress my son makes. I’ll and some videos and tips. Probably the next step is to learn how to steer and after that tic-tac. I think that will take a while. When he can ride with confidence, the next step is to learn some tricks.