To Skate or Not To Skate

Living in Canada, skating is a part of our Canadian identity. We want our boys to learn how to be comfortable on the ice wearing a pair of skates.

Naturally, we signed Robert up for skating lessons. There is a great program here where volunteers are paired with a child with a disability to offer 1:1 lessons. Robert’s first experience with this program was in Spring 2019. He was paired with the best volunteer you could ask for.

As with most of the programs offered in our area, SkateAble is offered in English. This means that our child, who speaks French as a first language, is required to learn the steps needed in order to be successful on skates, while processing the instructions in his second language. This is a challenge for anyone, so as you can imagine, it’s even more challenging for Robert.

His volunteer coach in Spring 2019 was, as we mentioned, the best volunteer you could ask for. He was patient, kind, and although he hadn’t spoken French since he was in middle school, he attempted to speak French with Robert.

Robert loves hockey. One of his favourite things to do is to sit on the couch with mama and Daddy to watch a game. Our house cheers for the Penguins, unless Marc-André Fleury is playing, our favourite goalie, then we can’t help but cheer for Vegas. Because hockey games tend to go late, after the first period it’s bedtime. We tell him the game is over, and he hasn’t quite caught on to the fact that we’re fibbing. {don’t let him in on our secret}

We thought by signing him up for skating, and telling him it was the first step to playing hockey, he’d be motivated and therefore, he’d be successful. Naturally we didn’t expect for him to become a great skater overnight, but we did expect an effort on his part.

Unfortunately, it looks as though our little guy does not like being on skates. I don’t know why he is resisting the opportunity to learn. Is it too difficult for him? Is he feeling overwhelmed and afraid? How can we know? When I ask him if he wants to skating, he excitedly says “OUI! HOCKEY!” but there is clearly a disconnect between that attitude and what we see on the ice weekly.

You see, after his skates are all laced up, and his helmet is fastened. Robert gets to the ice surface and sits down. That’s right. He doesn’t try to skate. He will often bum-scoot over to the players’ bench and “take 5” (or 10…). We rack our brains trying to think about what we can do to help motivate him. We know this activity is a wonderful activity not only for his gross motor development, but also socially. Eventually, there will be a field trip to the ice rink. We don’t want Robert to be excluded from the activity because he cannot skate. We want to afford him every opportunity to participate fully.

Robert is seen laying on the ice, while others skate around him.
Robert’s idea of skating

But every week, those skates are laced. The helmet is put on his head. He smiles and seems motivated. Until it’s time to go on the ice with new volunteer (we haven’t had a consistent ‘coach’ this session) and he decides that he isn’t interested.

My husband and I have to think about what we want for Robert. Do we want him to persevere week after week in an activity he seemingly has no interest in? Do we wait until Sullivan is ready to learn to skate and see if Robert becomes more motivated to learn with his brother?

What would you do? What do you think?

One response to “To Skate or Not To Skate”

  1. I would persevere with Robert, however, since he only seems interested in the time out of hockey talk to him and ask him if he is afraid of the skates and the ice. Talk to him, as you have been doing, letting him know that he is in charge of this activity and if he wants to learn then that’s fine but if he doesn’t want to learn then that is also fine. I think you are doing a wonderful job raising Robert and this is only a minor set back, maybe once he sees his brother skate that will push him into learning to skate for the enjoyment of skating. I regret that I never learned how when there was a rink so close to where I grew up, but I wasn’t interested in sports so maybe my folks didn’t want to waste what little money they had teaching me something I would not have enjoyed.


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