Abraham Lincoln once answered the question: “How long should a man’s legs be?” by saying “long enough to reach the ground”. This applies to how young a beginner skateboarder can start to learn – and it is not a wise guy answer. Several factors are involved. First of all, you need to judge their physical and mental maturity. Does your kid have a good sense of balance? Is he coordinated and does he have good depth perception – by this I mean the ability to judge distances and heights? This is necessary to help avoid running into things, and as he gets more advanced, to know when to jump up onto a ramp. Ideally, he should have good judgment, but given the fact that the rational faculties in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain don’t really fully develop in males until they are in their 20s, this may be too much to ask.
Perhaps the most important criterion in determining the age of a beginner skateboarder is Mom’s threshold of pain. Your child will fall, will cry, and will get banged up. Our son broke his wrist 3 times in his first year. In the 8 years since then, he has not had anything more serious than cuts and bruises. There are things you can do to reduce the frequency of injury. Statistics indicate that about 50% of all injuries occur in the first week of learning to skateboard. This suggests that you get him a coach for the first 7 to 10 days of actual skateboarding. A coach can be a responsible neighborhood kid, or a “semi-pro” skater. And a lot of the learning can take place on a level and paved driveway. Eventually, you will want to consider a skateboard camp such as one of the Woodward skateboard camp once he masters some of the basics – starting, braking, stopping, turning and then ollying,
Another way of reducing injuries is to get your child the proper safety gear. Do not get him gear from a toy store. Go to a real skate shop or on-line skate shop and get real equipment, starting with a good board. The absolutely necessary companion to a good board with good wheels and trucks, is a helmet. Not a bicycle helmet, or a football helmet, but a real skateboard helmet that fits him NOW. Don’t get a helmet that is too large on the theory that he can grow into it. If it doesn’t fit him properly now, it won’t protect him properly now. Spring for the extra money to get a good helmet that fits him now, even though you know he will outgrow it fairly soon. Wrist guards, elbow pads and knee pads are a very wise precaution, particularly for beginners. You may find it difficult to keep him in the pads and guards as he gets older, but you must, must, must insist that he wears the helmet every time he gets on his skateboard.
So, that’s the complicated answer to a simple question “how old should my child be when starting to learn skateboarding?” Sometimes as young as 3 or 4, and under normal circumstances, certainly but 5, 6 or 7. Rather similar to the guidelines for learning how to bicycle.
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