For Madison Singleton, nothing compares to the feeling of lacing up her roller skates and going as fast as she can.
The Brownstown Elementary School third-grader has skates at home and often goes outside to practice, and she also has skated at roller rinks.
That experience helped during Skatetime sessions once a week for the past five weeks in physical education class at school.
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“I did pretty good,” Madison said. “I fell down a couple of times at first, but then I got the hang of it. Going in a circle at the roller rinks, I’m used to that and turning and going fast.”
The key to staying on your feet? Balance, Madison said.
“You don’t want to lean too far this way or that way,” she said.
For the fifth-straight year, physical education teacher Jennifer Schneider received approval from the school to rent the skates from Skatetime School Programs.
Parents signed a permission slip and paid a $4 rental fee. It actually costs $9, but Schneider said she seeks funds to make it cheaper for the kids.
Brownstown third- and fifth-graders participated the first two years, but it has only been for third-graders the past three years. They skated once a week for 30 minutes during P.E.
The first session was all about getting the kids comfortable wearing the skates. Schneider also taught the kids how to be safe while skating.
“They are heavy. They are like boots. We spend a lot of time learning how to tie them,” she said of the skates. “We work on standing up and balance, a lot of coordination, just getting the feel for the heaviness of the skates.”
During the second session, kids moved in a forward motion and learned how to accelerate. Schneider had them balance on one skate and then switch over.
The third and fourth weeks, they worked on turns and crossover moves.
“If they can balance, they can definitely turn and do the crossover move,” Schneider said. “Some of them that are advanced can do turns at the corners and backward skating as well.”
By the fifth and final day, Schneider said she wanted to see kids stay on their feet.
“I want to see less falling, absolutely,” she said with a smile. “Knowing how to brake is important. If they come upon a wall or another student or friend on the floor, they’ve got to know how to brake when the time is right.”
Schneider said it’s neat to see the kids progress through the five weeks.
“I would say 90 percent of them are skating and not falling, and they are more confident,” she said. “They’ve built their confidence up, and they’re smiling, and they’re happy. It’s great to see that on their faces.”
Third-graders Kaitlyn Williams, Caiden Gwin and Ethan Garland all said they had roller-skating experience before starting Skatetime.
Kaitlyn said she has skated since she was 6, mainly doing it at a roller rink.
“It had been a while since I had done it, but it went pretty good,” she said. “I felt I got better going faster and being able to move. I like just going fast. It gets me active, and I’ve been learning how to do it better.”
Caiden, who started skating when he was 7, said Skatetime helped him learn how to stay on his feet. Once he got comfortable with that, he said he liked going as fast as he could.
Ethan said he had skated a few times before participating in Skatetime. He learned how to stay balanced and said it was fun watching other kids try skating.
Some of his classmates weren’t able to maintain their balance at times, but they got right back up and tried it again.
“It was kind of funny when people fell,” Ethan said with a grin.
Schneider said offering Skatetime is good for the kids.
“It’s great to teach kids a lifetime activity that they might not get a chance to ever do,” she said. “I think it’s kind of a pastime thing that people do, extracurricular activity, and you don’t hear many kids going to the skating rink anymore. I do hear some of them go, but for some of them here, it’s the only experience they get on skates.”
Besides running, Schneider said skating is one of the best cardiovascular exercises.
“It gets their heart rate up, and it keeps it up for the amount of time I get them,” she said. “You want to try to get them active 60 minutes a day. That’s what we’re striving for. When I only have them for 45, I think getting them (skating) for 30 minutes a day is great.”
As the kids put up their skates on the final day, Schneider encouraged them to take time outside of school to keep on skating.
“Some of them told me they asked for skates for Christmas and got them, and that was neat to hear,” she said. “Some of them were going to the inline skates and told me they went ice skating over break. So just to try something new, I think it’s neat.”
Skatetime School Programs provides schools with the equipment and tools they need to get students up and rolling.
Schools schedule a five- or 10-day block of time and provide shoe sizes for students. Parents sign a permission slip and pay a rental fee.
Skatetime sends a step-by-step how-to guide, including lesson plans, an instruction manual and a free video.
If a school is offering Skatetime for the first time, a skate instructor helps with setup and organization of the equipment and will stay the entire day and give basic instruction to each class.
According to skatetime.com, the mission of the program is “to provide every child in America equal opportunity to excel as athletes. Together, we can mold a generation that is conscious of the importance of wellness and fitness.”