Skateboarding is really a muscle movement, and, like any muscle movement, the earlier you start to do it, the easier it is to learn.
But skateboarding also looks dangerous. When you watch competitors at the Olympics or X Games, you see a lot of spills with potential for injury.
The good news is, skateboarding isn’t nearly as dangerous as the pros make it look.
On the contrary, it’s a relatively safe activity for kids over the age of 5 years old.
Since skateboarding keeps skaters close to the ground (during regular riding, at least), skaters don’t have that far to fall. Kids have even less far.
Due to this, skateboarding is a sport with a low incidence of injury and when injuries do occur, they are typically not severe.
Most of the injuries seen in skateboarders come from attempting to perform difficult tricks, falling incorrectly and, most importantly, from not wearing protective equipment!
As long as you properly attire you kids in helmet, pads, and braces, they should be very safe on a skateboard.
How to Start Skateboarding for Kids
When it comes to learning to skateboard the fundamentals are the same regardless of age.
The main movements on a skateboard are:
These actions will each take time (and plenty of practice) to learn.
To get started, check out our article How to Skateboard (Skateboarding Basics to Get You Started), which will walk you through these fundamentals one by one.
How to Teach a Kid to Skateboard
Kids learn to skateboard just like adults. They must learn the fundamentals first, practice until they start to come more naturally, and build from there.
If you’re a parent (or other responsible adult) looking to teach your kid to skate, it helps a lot if you know how to skate yourself or are willing to learn alongside them.
Skateboarding really is a unique feeling that can only be learned by doing.
Only when YOU know how to stand, balance, push, and stop on a skateboard can you truly teach a kid how to do those things properly.
Otherwise, your kid might be better off under the guidance of someone who knows what they’re doing.
However, if you are determined to teach your kid to skate on your own, here are some useful tips for teaching your kid to skateboard:
Don’t start too early.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children not start skateboarding before the age of five for the following reasons:
- Children younger than five have poorly-developed neuromuscular systems, making them more prone to injury if they fall.
- Children younger than five have poor judgment regarding their own abilities.
- Children younger than five cannot accurately judge the distance of traffic (pedestrian or vehicular) or obstacles.
- Children younger than five have higher centers of gravity, making balance more difficult.
Since children under the age of five are more likely to suffer a catastrophic injury from skateboarding, it is best that they don’t skate at all.
Keep a close eye on younger kids.
While a child over the age of 5 should be fairly safe on a skateboard, children under the age of 10 should be closely monitored, according to the AAP.
Between the ages of 5 and 10, children become physically developed enough to avoid most injuries while falling, but they are not mentally developed enough to make good decisions and take appropriate action if something unexpected should happen.
Because of this, age 10 is the minimum age for solo skateboarding recommended by the AAP.
But keep in mind this is a loose number not right for every kid.
Other activities the AAP suggests a child may be able to do alone by age 10 is walking to school or staying home for a few hours.
So, if you would not let your kid walk to school alone or stay home alone, they are not ready to skateboard alone.
Start on soft surfaces.
Before your kid can learn to ride a skateboard, they must learn a few basics.
These basics can be learned on a soft surface, such as carpet or grass.
On this soft surface, you can teach your kid proper skateboard stance, how to lean on a skateboard, and proper pushing and stopping techniques before you ever get to the pavement.
You can also teach your kid how to fall off their skateboard, which reduces the likelihood they’ll get hurt once they actually start to ride.
The First Five Steps in Teaching a Kid to Skateboard
1 – Teach your kid how to stand on a skateboard.
The first thing your kid needs to learn to do on a skateboard is to stand on it properly.
The good news is, this is one of the things you can help your kid learn whether you know how to skate or not.
To teach your kid a proper skateboard stance, see our article How to Stand on a Skateboard (Proper Skateboard Foot Placement Technique).
Keep in mind that a proper stance for a child who is not yet fully grown will be smaller than a proper stance for an adult.
Your kid’s feet should be shoulder-width apart on the board.
For smaller kids, a shoulder-width stance is unlikely to reach both trucks.
Instead, the front foot should rest near the front trucks, while the back foot will be nearer the center of the board.
The important thing is to find that sweet spot where the stance feels natural and your kid feels balanced while standing.
2 – Practice leaning.
While on the soft surface, have your kid lean frontward and backward on the skateboard’s deck.
This will eventually become the basis for skateboard steering, so it’s important they can do this from a stationary position without losing their balance.
As they lean, make sure their feet stay flat against the deck.
A lot of kids tend to lift their toes or heels when leaning, which can make them lose their balance.
The idea of this exercise is to have your kid shifting their weight to the balls of their feet when they lean forward and to the heels of their feet when they lean back.
This can be difficult to explain to younger children. So, try this –
- When your kid leans forward, point to the balls of their feet and say, “You should feel heavy here.”
- When your kid leans back, point to the heels of their feet and say, “You should feel heavy here.”
It can even help to hold their feet flat against the board as they lean to help them understand how they can lean without lifting their feet.
By practicing leaning, you will help your kid get a feel for how to keep their balance on the board as they begin to ride and steer.
3 – Practice stepping on and off the board.
Stepping on and off a skateboard is another way to practice balance and a pre-lesson for pushing and stopping.
To practice, have your kid step on and off their skateboard repeatedly.
Adjust their feet each time they do to get them back into a proper stance.
Keep practicing until your kid can return to a proper stance on their own when they step back onto the board.
If they can find their stance each time they return to the deck, they’ll be a long way toward balanced riding once they start to roll over pavement.
4 – Teach them how to fall.
Falling off a skateboard is the main cause of injury on a skateboard.
And the younger your child is, the more likely they are to get seriously injured by a fall.
You can reduce the risk of injury to your child by teaching them proper methods of falling off their skateboard.
In fact, regular falls are such a standard part of learning to skate, learning how to fall without getting hurt is one of our Top Skateboard Tips for Beginners.
5 – Help them learn to balance while moving.
All right. You’ve gotten the basics down on a soft surface.
Now, it’s time to start rolling on pavement.
Thankfully, this is something you can help your kid with too.
To help a small child practice balance while rolling on a skateboard, take their hands and start rolling the skateboard over a smooth surface.
Don’t hold too tightly.
It’s best to let them teeter a little, so they are forced to correct their stance when they start to lose their balance.
Once they look a little more solid, you can release your child’s hands for short periods of time while the skateboard is in motion. (Just stay nearby in case they need a hand to hold or start to fall.)
When your kid can roll for several feet without losing their balance, you can start moving forward into basic skateboard actions, like pushing, stopping, and steering.
You can find more information on how to perform these actions on How to Skateboard and its connected articles.
Your Kids First Skateboard
Teaching your kid how to ride a skateboard can be a little challenging, but it’s certainly easier with the right board.
When your kid is ready to learn to ride, check out our top skateboard recommendations for kids of all ages in our article Best Skateboards for Kids.
Skate Kids: The Future Generation
Skateboarding has long been associated with young people, and the recent slew of 12- and 13-year-old Olympic skating medalists isn’t going to change that association much.
(You don’t have to be young to skate. Anyone reasonably fit can ride a skateboard and ridership is trending older, but, let’s face it, you simply bounce back better when you’re young and limber.)
If your kid wants to skate, it helps to know that it really isn’t all that dangerous. (It’s less dangerous, in fact, than many team sports or riding a bicycle.)
As long as they have a decent quality skateboard, protective gear, and a space away from traffic to practice, your kid should be able to learn how to balance and ride a skateboard safely.
The most important thing is to keep an eye on kids (all of them, not just the little ones) in those first few weeks.
One-third of skateboarding accidents happen to beginner skateboarders within the first week of skating.
When teaching kids to skate, it’s as much about teaching them what they can’t do yet as what they can do.
By making sure your kid has all the basics down, wears the right gear, and has a safe place away from traffic to skate, you can avoid a lot of the potential dangers of skateboarding and give yourself a little parental peace of mind.