Parent Program Overview
Some program name changes have occurred in the past couple years.
- PreCANSkate was previously Tots
- PreSTARSkate was previously Jumpstart.
The PreCANSkate program is designed for children that are completely new to skating. Usually we recommend putting your child in the PreCANSkate program for various reasons…
- If they either can’t handle being on the ice for more than 30 minutes (e.g. they are really small)
- If they have never skated before.
- If they are quite young.
If your child is ready to move into the regular CANSkate program, and you would like them moved into CANSkate, you will pay the pro-rated fee based on the time left in the season.
The skaters have been grouped with other skaters of similar skill levels – they do not necessarily match a specific badge level. Each group has a PA (Program assistant) who stays with the group and moves them from one station to the next as well as assisting at each station. If some skaters are advancing faster than other skaters in their group, they may be moved to another group. Some groups advance at a similar rate and will then be kept together; your child not changing groups does not mean they are not advancing. Not only that, but each of the 6 stages of CANSkate, particularly 3-6 can take quite some time to progress through, as there are quite a few skills to achieve. Many times it will take 3-4 full seasons to go from stage 3 to the end of stage 6.
The new program is also designed so that skills are repeated at different stages to allow introduction of a skill, development and then refinement. Example: Backwards 2ft skating/walking at Stage 1, Backwards push/glide sequence at Stage 2 and again at Stage 3. The expected level of performance at each stage is quite different even though the description is similar.
Circuits are used throughout. Skate Canada has designed circuits so that the skaters are continually moving without very much standing around. Circuits allow for work on specific skills while continually practicing other skills that the skaters are needing. Switching circuits often means the skaters do not get bored with one particular circuit and also allows covering of all three focus areas every day.
The basic warm up is about 10-12 minutes. It begins with an off-ice warm up with skates on. This allows the skaters to get a feel for their skates and practise certain stationary skills prior to getting on the ice. The off-ice warmup will include activites to get the muscles moving and heart rate up as well as streching exercises. Once on the ice, skaters stroke forwards and backwards in one direction each week (both directions are covered in two weeks). This allow the skaters to stretch their legs and work on speed and power.
There are four stations, and the session at each station lasts about 10-12 minutes. The circuits are built to cover a range of skills associated in each of the three areas – Balance (Forwards skating, glides etc), Control (stops, backwards skating, gliding etc) and Agility (turns, spins and jumps). Two of the stations have coaches assisting and teaching on circuits. The third station is a review circuit lead by a senior PA or coach (one that the skaters did the week prior) to reinforce the skills learned. This also assists skaters who have missed a session. What skills are covered at each station changes each week so that any given day, two skill areas are learned and the other is reviewed.
The fourth station is a ‘Fun zone’ also lead by a senior PA. This can be a game or circuit or combination depending on the day, but is also skills based.
Cooldown lasts approx 5 minutes. This is a group activity which again allows full use of the ice, while allowing the skaters to cool-down in a safe manner before the session end.
PreSTARSkate is a custom Athabasca Skating Club program, developed to give advancing skaters extra help. We feel that once skaters get past a certain basic skating stage, it’s important to challenge them to achieve higher skill levels. PreSTARSkate is essentially CANSkate stage 5-6 and pre-preliminary StarSkate. We do not advance skaters to PreSTARSkate until they have either passed stage 4, or are very close to passing stage 4. To move them up earlier frequently results in the following problems...
- Fear, as other skaters are going substantially faster, and that can be intimidating.
- Frustration of the skater, as they are unable to work on the skills they are being asked to.
- Coaches endeavour to give equal time to all the kids in PreSTARSkate, and cannot facilitate giving more time to one PreSTARSkate skater over another, regardless of whether a skater is ready for stage 5 or not.
- Skaters tend to learn bad habits if they skip ahead, which are very difficult to stop later on. Once they get into Starskate, they may even fail tests because of these bad habits.
Parents play a key role in the success of their children in skating. It’s important that parents encourage their children to move forward with their skills, and to pay attention to the coaches and program assistants. Providing incentives can be helpful, such as girls receiving skating dresses when they achieve a certain stage. Helping kids be excited about skating is one of the biggest factors in your child’s success.