Need guidance for gifted 5 year old

Joined
Jan 20, 2019
Also, it helps to see the contrast with my daughter, who can’t get past Basic 3 despite several coaching sessions (and I’m gently trying to steer her towards alternate activities because she can’t handle her little brother killing it on the ice..)
 

SmallAminal

On the Ice
Joined
Jul 26, 2016
Another way to look at private coaching is as an alternative if your kid is enjoying skating, but not the group lessons. Mine enjoyed skating, showed a good aptitude for it, but HATED group lessons because he was always the youngest (and got banged around by older kids) and had trouble hearing and understanding the coach's directions in a group setting. It was a bit too chaotic for him, so he really took off in privates since he could focus on enjoying himself and the coach could speak directly to him and in a manner that made more sense to a 3/4 year old. It really wasn't about "getting ahead" for us, but making it comfortable for him and letting him truly enjoy the ice. He started asking for more lessons because it was so much fun for him whereas he would cry on the ice during group lessons and often they would pluck him off the ice and hand him to me mid-group lessons. Some kids don't do well in group sessions because of their personality (and sometimes the way the lessons are structured), but not sure how it is for your kid. Costs are a consideration as well - like anything "private", it will be a multiple of the cost of group lessons. You have to way the cost/benefit and how you think it will impact your child. Don't worry at this point whether they have Olympic potential or not, I think its kind of silly for a coach to say that at this point. My personal experience is that coaches are often keen to get a talented boy (because there aren't a lot of boys kicking around), so they fawn all over you and you have to kind of read through the BS a bit.

Off-topic, but if your son is really keen on this, try to connect him with other boys. Right now he likely doesn't have any self-conscious feelings about it, but you will deal with it sooner or later. Do they have any "boys only" sessions or can you team him up with another young boy for semi-privates? It can be VERY lonely in this sport as a boy. At some point around 6 or 7 years old my son started to become "aware" of other people's attitudes about his skating and he started wondering "well if I don't see other boys at the rink, maybe it IS weird that I am a boy and I figure skate." So many times he wanted to quit because it was easier than dealing with the bullying and teasing. The thing that keeps him around is his best friend (also a boy skater at the rink) and connecting, whenever possible, with male coaches, older skaters, etc.
 

hanyuufan5

❅*:・。.✨
Medalist
Joined
May 19, 2018
Off-topic, but if your son is really keen on this, try to connect him with other boys. Right now he likely doesn't have any self-conscious feelings about it, but you will deal with it sooner or later. Do they have any "boys only" sessions or can you team him up with another young boy for semi-privates? It can be VERY lonely in this sport as a boy. At some point around 6 or 7 years old my son started to become "aware" of other people's attitudes about his skating and he started wondering "well if I don't see other boys at the rink, maybe it IS weird that I am a boy and I figure skate." So many times he wanted to quit because it was easier than dealing with the bullying and teasing. The thing that keeps him around is his best friend (also a boy skater at the rink) and connecting, whenever possible, with male coaches, older skaters, etc.

With all due respect, I know this is very common, but it's not a 100% guarantee that any given skater will care about being the only boy or one of the only boys or people's attitudes. I'm not saying that you're trying this or that the OP would do this, but I've seen many, many adults misinterpret kids based on what the usual reaction to a situation is or other suggesting such, or "put the bug in their head" by asking them how they feel or encouraging them about a situation that they hadn't even noticed (i.e. kid doesn't want to do X because he has a stomachache from eating too much cake at a birthday party and is too embarrassed or afraid of getting in trouble to admit how much he overindulged, adult says, "Don't stop doing X because people laugh at you," kid responds, "Wait, people laugh at me?").
 

SmallAminal

On the Ice
Joined
Jul 26, 2016
With all due respect, I know this is very common, but it's not a 100% guarantee that any given skater will care about being the only boy or one of the only boys or people's attitudes. I'm not saying that you're trying this or that the OP would do this, but I've seen many, many adults misinterpret kids based on what the usual reaction to a situation is or other suggesting such, or "put the bug in their head" by asking them how they feel or encouraging them about a situation that they hadn't even noticed (i.e. kid doesn't want to do X because he has a stomachache from eating too much cake at a birthday party and is too embarrassed or afraid of getting in trouble to admit how much he overindulged, adult says, "Don't stop doing X because people laugh at you," kid responds, "Wait, people laugh at me?").

I don't understand your point and anything that starts out with "With all due respect" iis dismissive. I never suggested that the child would specifically care about comments or that the OP should somehow make the child paranoid unnecessarily. Some children are more resilient - my son's friend is a case in point with his "could care less what you think" attitude, but its still nice for them to connect and see other boys doing what they are doing. He enjoys my son's company and they like to sometimes do their "boy things" in between sessions without the girls. But the comments/teasing/lack of other boys IS something that will happen eventually and has happened to every boy I have ever met in this sport. Nobody knows how a kid will react so why not make sure they have the most supportive environment possible for them?

And I'm pretty sure my son coming home and saying "so-and-so got everyone laughing at me because 'skating is only for girls'" was not a result of me putting any ideas in his head. In fact, I was naively hopeful that he was in a school with more "enlightened" kids. He was crushed and in the moment he wanted to quit because other kids laughed at him and ganged up on him for an entire school day which then turned into weeks and many tears.

As with dance or other sports that (some) people in North America stupidly stereotype as "girl" activities, it *can* be a rough road for a boy.
But, this sport NEEDS boys - they are vital for pairs, ice dance, and just to compete in singles. Figure skating suffers the same problems in North America that they do in dance - boys (for whatever reason, including lack of interest) aren't enrolling and sticking around the way the girls are. What's wrong with some suggestions on how the OP might continue to support and engage her son to give him the best chance of sticking around (if that is what he wants to ultimately do)?

To the OP - I hope you continue to support your son for as long as he shows interest in the sport (you never know, he could discover hockey or something else and then leave this all behind). Just be aware that the road is not easy and do take advantage of any opportunity you have to enrich his experience and support him *as a boy* in a sport that is generally dominated by females in North America.
 

sk8kirsty

On the Ice
Joined
Aug 24, 2019
I'm going to play it straight here. I encourage talent and so on from an early age, but I feel like it's too soon and he hasn't had enough ice time to be told he has Olympic potential.

He's 5. He hasn't had private ice time or coaching nor many other factors.

I would not be jumping in head first just yet. Let him get some private coaching and develop past basics and see where he goes. The important thing is that he's getting taught and executing proper technique and not just getting passed through the levels.

I am not saying any of this to be negative or to discourage you.

I just don't want you to be directed wrongly.
Agreed
 

bunnybarista

If I risk it all, could you break my fall?~
On the Ice
Joined
May 27, 2018
I know we've spoken before about your son and the coach/ice options at this rink. I'd be a little leery of a coach telling you that your son has Olympic potential after the coach has only seen him skate one time. There are some coaches at that rink who would like you to believe that if you take lessons from them, then you'll have a champion on your hands and that all the other coaches are useless. This of course isn't true. We have a lot of great coaches who could help your son progress at the rate that is best for him without putting undue pressure on him at this age. I'm not sure which coach you have for group lessons, but feel free to PM me about it. I'm familiar with most of the coaches. :)
 
Joined
Jan 20, 2019
Hi Barista! Thank you for jumping in :) I’ll pm you. I actually asked her specifically about coaching, to kind of probe a bit further (and pre-empt the possibility of “fishing” for clients). She recommended against private lessons at this point. She said it’s too early. So, on the face it she didn’t seem to be trying to rope me in. Also my son took several weeks of summer camp there and, while I’m not sure if she’s directly worked with him before in a group class, she’s likely seen him before. He’s obvious because he’s small yet unusually graceful on the ice, and we often come to do public skating during the week.
 
Joined
Jan 20, 2019
Thank you for the insight! My son doesn’t care how he gets to be on the rink, group/private whatever. He just wants to swish swoosh down that ice :) as far as the gender aspect, I haven’t noticed any issues at all. My son does lots of different sports (T-ball, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, ballet, tap) in addition to skating (he loves skating most, by far) and the gender issue hasn’t come up. Maybe it’s because we alternative-school so he hasn’t been exposed to it. I mostly let him take the lead but definitely offer opportunities.
 

mishulyia

On the Ice
Joined
Jun 23, 2018
My newly turned 6 yo is around FS 2-3 level. She’s been having some frustration lately because after switching from a recreational coach to the the more intensive coaching team at our rink, she has been relearning a lot of the basics. Learn to Skate group classes often don’t teach proper technique, so while 6 months ago she was flying through the levels and appeared super talented, a true test of patience is hitting us now as she has to put learning the fun stuff (jumps, spins) on hold while coaches correct her stroking technique. My advice is to let him graduate out of Learn to Skate and find a good coach then. Start looking around now and see who might work best with your son. We had a recreational coach for a few months, and I’m thinking it did more harm than good because she was taught bad technique that now needs to be addressed.
 

Ic3Rabbit

Patineuse élite et professionnelle
Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 9, 2017
Country
Canada
My newly turned 6 yo is around FS 2-3 level. She’s been having some frustration lately because after switching from a recreational coach to the the more intensive coaching team at our rink, she has been relearning a lot of the basics. Learn to Skate group classes often don’t teach proper technique, so while 6 months ago she was flying through the levels and appeared super talented, a true test of patience is hitting us now as she has to put learning the fun stuff (jumps, spins) on hold while coaches correct her stroking technique. My advice is to let him graduate out of Learn to Skate and find a good coach then. Start looking around now and see who might work best with your son. We had a recreational coach for a few months, and I’m thinking it did more harm than good because she was taught bad technique that now needs to be addressed.

This is exactly what I mentioned could and most likely would happen with younger kids in LTS classes. Learning the basics is very important, so I hope everyone looking to move their child to private coach in near future finds one that will correct issues with edges, and other techniques taught badly in LTS, and will concentrate on having young skater learn the right way. It will go a long way in the end.
 

ayb2

Rinkside
Joined
Jan 2, 2018
So for comparison:
My youngest started at age 2. By age 4, she was working on basic 4-6 and did learn to skate and private lessons. At age 5, she was working on waltz jump, scratch spin, pre-freeskate to freeskate 2-3. At age 6, she was working on the higher level single jumps (loop, flip, lutz) and stabilizing them and doing early moves in the field (pre-pre and preliminary). She was doing only private lessons, and about 4.5 hours of ice time per week. Now at age 7, she's working on axel, improving variations on spins, making single jumps bigger, pre-juvenile moves in the field. I would say that she's modestly talented and has some ability to be a competitive skater in the future. Her 12 year old sister is not as talented and has to work harder and is now working on juvenile moves and synchro skating. Is my younger daughter going to the Olympics? Probably not. There are plenty of kids out there who have axels at age 5 or 6, who then flame out due to injury or lack of desire and switch to golf or dance or something else. And very few of them become US figure skating champions. At age 5 - learn to skate and some private coaching combination starting at basic 4-5 is probably a good idea so they don't learn bad habits that need to be unlearned. I would make ice time something that is child-led. Meaning, if he wants more ice time, give it. If he wants less ice time, do that. My younger daughter went through a phase around kindergarten when she decided there were too many people telling her what to do all the time, so we did more free ice play and less formal lessons at the time. She seems happy with what she's doing now. It's too expensive of a sport to be paying that much if the kid doesn't want it.
 

sandraskates

Final Flight
Joined
Oct 31, 2006
Country
United-States
This is exactly what I mentioned could and most likely would happen with younger kids in LTS classes. Learning the basics is very important, so I hope everyone looking to move their child to private coach in near future finds one that will correct issues with edges, and other techniques taught badly in LTS, and will concentrate on having young skater learn the right way. It will go a long way in the end.

Ouch Ic3Rabbit!! ;-)
I've taught many levels of LTS classes for a few years now and I'm gonna say that I, and my fellow LTS coaches, do our best to teach proper technique to the students.

The biggest challenge I encounter regarding teaching technique in the LTS classes is the varying desire of the students. I know some are only there because "my mom / dad wants me to skate." And these kids don't fully participate in the class because they really don't want to be there. This drags down the class for those that really do like to skate and want to learn - just like in a regular school classroom.

And in the Snowplow tots classes I also see a lot of skill variance and participation. Some tots literally just won't skate; they'd rather just fall and sit on the ice, while others will try anything you ask of them and progress just like the OP's child.

ayb2 - you bring up some good points about more free ice play and less formal lessons. That is exactly all that some kids need. They'll be the kids that can show off at a skating birthday party and have a good time while their friends oooh and ahhh at what they can do.
 

Ic3Rabbit

Patineuse élite et professionnelle
Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 9, 2017
Country
Canada
Ouch Ic3Rabbit!! ;-)
I've taught many levels of LTS classes for a few years now and I'm gonna say that I, and my fellow LTS coaches, do our best to teach proper technique to the students.

The biggest challenge I encounter regarding teaching technique in the LTS classes is the varying desire of the students. I know some are only there because "my mom / dad wants me to skate." And these kids don't fully participate in the class because they really don't want to be there. This drags down the class for those that really do like to skate and want to learn - just like in a regular school classroom.

And in the Snowplow tots classes I also see a lot of skill variance and participation. Some tots literally just won't skate; they'd rather just fall and sit on the ice, while others will try anything you ask of them and progress just like the OP's child.

ayb2 - you bring up some good points about more free ice play and less formal lessons. That is exactly all that some kids need. They'll be the kids that can show off at a skating birthday party and have a good time while their friends oooh and ahhh at what they can do.

I never said it was all LTS coaches. I said "most likely" would happen.
 
Joined
Jan 20, 2019
Wait, what? Let me get this straight - your daughter has been skating since age 2, breezed through all the snowplows and basics and freeskates before age 6, and has been doing axels and she is “modestly” talented? What exactly does “significantly” talented look like, then? How is that determination being made? And why would your daughter not be capable of advancing to the top level? I must be missing something very substantial, which is another reason I’m glad to have posted here. This is all very helpful - I didn’t realize that there are so many young children at such advanced level and the general reception of that is rather ho-hum in the skating community. Interesting!
 
Joined
Jan 20, 2019
That is what happened with my youngest - at 3 years old we tried to sign him up for snowplow and he has refused. We have not tried again - he’s been watching his older brother skate forever and we figured he will ask to join in when ready. Today he said he wants to skate but he didn’t really mean it :)

The skater in question though (my middle son) has always been very motivated and recognized by his instructors for effort and motivation. He does get frustrated when things get hard but he sticks to it. Today in Basic 5 class he kept showing me thumbs down but kept getting up and trying again. At the end of class his instructor came up to us and showed him a video of the boy’s audition who got Fritz at the Nutcracker this year and said “do you want to do that next year?” (Our rink puts up Nutcracker every year). Obviously there is a shortage of boys and they get super excited when they come across a motivated skater boy :)

Ouch Ic3Rabbit!! ;-)
I've taught many levels of LTS classes for a few years now and I'm gonna say that I, and my fellow LTS coaches, do our best to teach proper technique to the students.

The biggest challenge I encounter regarding teaching technique in the LTS classes is the varying desire of the students. I know some are only there because "my mom / dad wants me to skate." And these kids don't fully participate in the class because they really don't want to be there. This drags down the class for those that really do like to skate and want to learn - just like in a regular school classroom.

And in the Snowplow tots classes I also see a lot of skill variance and participation. Some tots literally just won't skate; they'd rather just fall and sit on the ice, while others will try anything you ask of them and progress just like the OP's child.

ayb2 - you bring up some good points about more free ice play and less formal lessons. That is exactly all that some kids need. They'll be the kids that can show off at a skating birthday party and have a good time while their friends oooh and ahhh at what they can do.
 

Clarice

Rinkside
Joined
Mar 26, 2005
I think the thing to remember in this sport is that it's a marathon, not a sprint. There are a lot of young kids with "talent", and that can mean different things. They might be obviously more coordinated, or fearless, or able to follow directions. Coaches can see that there is something there to work with. But kids develop at different rates. The one who's crawling around licking the ice at age 3 may very well be top of the class a few years later, you never know. It's important to have good training, whether privately or in a group, so that bad habits won't develop. As a parent, if you don't know anything about skating, that can be hard to determine.

My own daughter started skating at age 5 in ISI group classes. We switched to private instruction a year later. She took and passed her first USFS tests shortly afterwards (and probably earlier than she should have). She didn't start landing axels until she was 9, and never acquired consistent triples. She never made it out of Regionals as a competitor. Today, she is a coach and has passed the senior or gold tests in Moves, free skating, solo pattern dance and solo free dance. She has accomplished more than most skaters will, but has not gone as far in the sport as some. I had a wonderful time going along for the ride. My advice to all new skate parents is to enjoy the journey!
 

VegMom

On the Ice
Joined
Aug 25, 2017
Hi! I was in your shoes. My kiddo started at age 6 and showed a ton of potential. He's 9 now and still showing potential. Here is our story so far.

He blazed through the learn to skate doing the classes twice a week, skipping some levels. Then we did private lessons once or twice a week for a while, practicing as often as we could when he wanted to practice (he wanted to practice most of the time). He was going to school so we constantly had trouble finding ice that wasn't busy but we found some options. He was skating after school 1-2 hours most week days last year (age 8, level pre-pre). This year we are homeschooling and he's practicing 2-3 hours per day about 3 days per week and 1-2 hours 1-2 days per week. His skating practice includes both on and off ice work. He also does a lot of other physical activity, which I think is really good for building muscle and for helping him have a sort of 'normal childhood' (eg he's not at a rink all day everyday).

In regards to his training, I found that the Skate Canada Long Term Athlete Development Model is really solid and I use it as my guide.
https://skatecanada.ca/long-term-athlete-development-ltad/

Homeschooling is hard - really hard for us so far because we're not used to it but also because he has limited focus and energy for it. If he had his way, he would be focused only on skating and not really learning anything else. At his age it's also just harder because the subjects are harder. I think you might have an advantage in that area since you're already doing homeschooling and you and your kids are used to it.

This year he was diagnosed with a rare progressive disease that MIGHT end his skating career. He's doing very well and wants to continue so we are going to go as far as we can with this. I mention that not just because it's our true story but because with all athletics the reality is that you need a lot of things to just go right - you need the money and time and passion and talent, but you also need luck. Our child got unlucky with some genetic issues but he might be on the lucky side of that unlucky situation and he still might be able to go far with skating. Maybe we will get lucky with medical advancements, who knows?

So it's good to think through:
WHAT ARE MY PRIORITIES AS A PARENT?
WHAT ARE MY CHILD'S PRIORITIES?
WHAT IS POSSIBLE?

Everyone is going to have different responses to these questions but I think if you put some time and effort into answering them, and re-evaluating regularly every year or so, then you are going to be in a better position than if you hadn't do that. Making your priorities clear and referencing them during tough decisions can be very helpful whenever there are conflicting pressures. I saw Jason Brown and his mother speak once and they made it clear that it's important to have something(s) that is MORE important than skating. For Jason it was family and school, for other skaters it might be religion or health or even other sports or passions like music or art. The point is that you need something to reference to put skating into perspective so when it seems like everything is impossible or when things aren't working out.

Jason Brown experienced both the high and low of being chosen and not being chosen for the Olympics. He confirms that having 'something more important than skating' is key in those moments.
 

ayb2

Rinkside
Joined
Jan 2, 2018
Wait, what? Let me get this straight - your daughter has been skating since age 2, breezed through all the snowplows and basics and freeskates before age 6, and has been doing axels and she is “modestly” talented? What exactly does “significantly” talented look like, then? How is that determination being made? And why would your daughter not be capable of advancing to the top level? I must be missing something very substantial, which is another reason I’m glad to have posted here. This is all very helpful - I didn’t realize that there are so many young children at such advanced level and the general reception of that is rather ho-hum in the skating community. Interesting!

Currently, I follow some young skaters on instagram. Elise Freezer had axels at age 5 and some beautiful performance ability, has had knee surgeries and sat out last year and might be finally competing again at Intermediate after placing at Nationals in the juvenile level 2-3 years ago. Olivia Herman - also axels at age 5, beautiful skater, appears to do golf now. Alayna Coats - axel at age 6-7, now 8 and doing most doubles, beautiful spins, competing at pre-pre this year. In our region - Annabelle Wilkins - axel and skating pre-preliminary at age 6. Appears to be skating preliminary now at age 8 or 9. Gia Kokotakis - showed some early precocity at skating, went to Junior level and her insta account seems to describe her being an author and skating currently, but she has no competitive results for last year and hasn't made it out of sectionals in the past 4 years. It's hard to get too excited when you know the odds of things getting in the way between early childhood and senior level competitive skater. One of our coaches last year was Katie McBeath, who went to nationals for something like 6 years at the senior level and never broke into the top 10. She's a wonderful skater, but gets very little press because she's not in the mix for a medal.
 

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
@Vegmom, I hope all goes well with your son and his health!

It is interesting that you brought up Jason Brown, because although I am neither a skater or a skating parent (or grandparent;) ), I have followed Jason.

Obviously it was clear very early on that Jason was gifted, (there is a video he posted of baby Jason practicing his axel at maybe 6? It’s adorable) but as you noted, his parents did not dwell on those gifts. Now obviously he had private coaching from a young age, but Jason has said that until he was older, he didn’t realize it was coaching, he thought it was just “Play date with Kori”. And his folks insisted he live at home and attend public school rather than leave for Colorado at 16, as Kori would have preferred.

Of course every parent must make the judgment of what is best for their child, in skating and schooling and everything else. :)
 
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