Scooters, Skates & Skateboards
You need wheels – about kids’ wheeled toys, from scooters to roller skates
Scooters, skateboards and skates all have wheels and all three are favoured by children all the world. No one takes naturally to scooting, skateboarding or skating — it takes practise and time to become good. So, be sure to reassure your child that the skill will come, despite the falls.
Scooters, also known as push scooters or kick scooters, are meant to stand on. There’s a vertical handlebar, a horizontal deck and wheels on the bottom. Most are made of aluminum and can fold for storage or transport, though some child models may be plastic and unfoldable. Scooters for the youngest children can have three or four wheels; most other scooters have two wheels. Some young children will have trouble with that one wheel in the front and will ride more easily with one that has two wheels at the front — this type is called a mini-kick scooter. The steering for a mini-kick scooter is also easier because leaning into the turn is required and children seem to find that movement intuitive. A mini-kick scooter will be perfect for a four year old who has learned to walk well. Be sure to pick a flat paved area with little to no traffic for practise.
Roller skates come in two different configurations: the ones with four wheels placed as if on a car and the ones with anywhere from two to five wheels placed in a line. The inline or Rollerblade skates are currently the most popular. When starting with inline skates, the category of skate must be considered:
A multi-purpose skate doesn’t go fast or enable the skater to do tricks well – it’s a compromise of styles. But, if a child needs a good skate for general purposes, you can’t go wrong with a multi-purpose skate.
A hockey skate is designed for the game of the same name.
A speed skate is meant for racing.
Competition or floor skates are meant for tricks and skate dancing.
A combined skate is a custom model put together from components selected by you – count on the advice from the store staff.
There’s also the skate-shoe, with a wheel in the shoe’s heel of the shoe – a child can walk or run or slide . Heelys is the best known brand of this skate variation.
A skateboard is basically a plywood board coated with a polyurethane coating with sets of wheels on the bottom. A child moves along on a skateboard by keeping one foot on the board and pushing with the other. Skateboard wheels are made of polyurethane, in different sizes and hardnesses:
Hard small wheels (51–54 mm in diameter) are used for tricks like kickflips.
Soft medium-size wheels (55–65 mm in diameter) are best for vertical ramps.
Soft large wheels (60–75 mm in diameter) are used by slalom skate racers.
The largest wheels (65-100 mm in diameter) are for downhill skateboarding and longboarding.
Longboards are simply longer versions of regular skateboards. There are also caster boards built like a combination of a snowboard and a skateboard. It has just two wheels that let the rider accelerate and change direction simply by shifting weight — there’s no pushing involved at all. With enough practise, a rider can even go uphill. That’ll be something for a child to show off!
No matter whether you choose a skateboard, skates or a scooter for your child, be sure to get the appropriate safety and protective equipment, which must include protection for the knees and the wrists. A helmet is absolutely required.