I often advise to not let kids under 5 ride a skateboard just to be on the safe side. There are exceptions to the rule but it will require you to pay attention to a child at all times.
The best age to start skateboarding is 5 years old and up. Kids under 5 have underdeveloped fine motor skills and a harder time balancing on a skateboard. However, with adult supervision and protective gear, kids under 5 can safely ride a skateboard.
It’s a controversial subject, research data shows that younger kids are more likely to get injured while skateboarding. Experienced skateboarders however have a different opinion. So let’s look at the both camps and their arguments.
At What Age Should a Child Start Skateboarding?
I often see these really young kids already do advanced tricks. Sure this is cool and looks amazing, but these talented kids usually are guided by experienced skateboarders.
Kids under the age of 5 also haven’t developed their fine motor skills and will likely have a harder time learning to control a skateboard. This will result in lots of falls and a demotivated kids.
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advises against skateboarding or scootering at such a young age, so if you’re not willing to watch your kid at all time, it’s better to follow their advice. Here’s what they have to say
- High risk of injury because of poor strength and poor judgement skills when encountering traffic.
- High center of gravity and underdeveloped neuromuscular system (all the muscles in the body and the nerves serving them).
- Less skilled at protecting themselves from falling.
There are always exceptions, not all kids are the same. If you do want your child to get into skateboarding at 3 or 4, make sure they wear elbow pads, knee pads, and (most importantly) a helmet. Also make sure to get a quality skateboard, you won’t be doing your kids a favor buying cheap Walmart or Amazon-no-brand skateboard.
Why Younger Kids Can Ride Skateboards
The data provided by the AAP is reliable but not all kids are the same. With proper adult supervision and taking precautions there really is no harm in it. Skateboarders often point out that when you guide a child properly and stay close to them at all times, there is little risk involved. Here are a couple of tips to make skateboarding as safe as possible:
- Kids should always wear a helmet, knee- and elbow pads.
- Make sure to get a quality skateboard, not those $30-$60 skateboards.
- Avoid crowded places and traffic.
- Make sure the area your kid rides a board consist of a smooth surface (concrete, BB-courts, slick asphalt).
- Check for pebbles, glass, twigs, or anything that could block the wheels and causes a child to fall.
Protective gear goes a long way. Make sure it is quality stuff and stays in place, it really should fit properly. Knee pads or helmets that don’t fit properly offer less protection.
The Best Way Kids Should Learn How To Skateboard
It’s really about proper gear and supervision. My kid had a hard time learning how to ride a skateboard that is meant for tricks. By that, I mean a skateboard with harder wheels that are great for technical tricks but don’t offer a comfortable ride. they work great in skateparks or when riding concrete surfaces, less so on rough surfaces..
For just learning the basics, a cruiser will work really well. These boards have big and soft wheels that offer lots of stability.
Another option is to assemble a skateboard yourself. Instead of small hard wheels you can select bigger and softer wheels and decent bearings to make them spin faster.
The benefit is that a child will have more time to learn how to maneuver a skateboard, instead of having to gain speed again.
Recommended Skateboard Gear For Kids
There are many board to pick from if you just want to buy a skateboard and be done with it. Not all are equal.
Here are the skateboards I recommend for kids over the age of 5:
- The Arbor Pocket Rocket; a high quality small cruiser with big soft wheels, portable and very forgiving
- Santa Cruz complete skateboard; A decent skateboard with softer and wider wheels
- Powell Peralta Golden Dragon; a very affordable skateboard that’s great for kids under 10
You can find out more details about these skateboards in my list of best skateboards for kids. We tested them ourselves, just go through the list and see which board will work for the kid you have in mind.
As for protective gear I can recommend a couple of brands. So far, TSG is my favorite because their gear fits really well and won’t shift while riding a skateboard.
- Triple 8, Protec, TSG offer great helmets
- They also offer knee-, elbow pads, and wrist guards for kids, often in a set.
Is It Too Late to Start Skateboarding At…
So I often get this question, and it seems somewhat related to this topic. Perhaps you can get a skateboard yourself, or a cruiser for that matter.
People of all ask themselves this question but the truth is, it’s never to late to start skateboarding. Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s , 40, and even 50s you can learn how to ride, but the older you are the more precautions you should take. It also depends on how fit you are and if you are used to working out.
Over the years I’ve received lots of emails of older beginners that just started skateboarding, one was even in his 60s. My advise is to always wear protective gear and start slow. You won’t be doing ollies on day one and the best thing is to learn how to ride first.
- If you learn how to ride a skateboard properly, you will progress faster
- Getting to know how a skateboard behaves will make it easier to pick up tricks
- Ollies and kickflips should not be a priority, there are lots of easier tricks
- Learning tricks stationary is not always beneficial
I hope I was able to shed some light on the debate, kids can start to skateboard at a very young age given you monitor them at all times. It’s not as black and white as it seems at first.
After all you are the parent and can judge for yourself if your kid is ready. I can imagine it’s hard to turn down a 4-year-old that really wants to get a skateboard. Make sure you get a quality skateboard and at least a helmet.
Perhaps pick up a skateboard yourself? It’s a fun way of bonding with a kid and a healthy excercise!