Basic roller skates became more and more sophisticated late in the 20th century when two hockey players created a modern version by using hockey boots and upgraded materials. Roller skating now is commonly known as rollerblading or inline skating, and -- as Inline Warehouse explains -- you can do everything from speed skating to trick skating on the small wheels. Consequently, buying roller skates for your kids is more complicated, but it's also more likely you can find exactly what they need for the activities they most enjoy.
As InlineSkates.com notes, there are three basic types of roller skates you can buy for your kids. Recreational skates are the most versatile skates and can be used at an indoor rink or outside on the street or sidewalk. Roller hockey skates are designed for the sport of roller hockey, with different types of wheels for indoor versus outdoor competition. Aggressive skates is the term used to describe the bigger and bulkier skates kids use for tricks such as jumps and spins.
Sizing Them Up
Modern roller skates aren't cheap and kids' feet grow fast, so skate manufacturers offer skates that can adjust up to four sizes. InclineSkates.com recommends making sure the adjustable skate is, in fact, easy to adjust. An older child with size 9 feet might want a skate that can be lengthened by one or two sizes. A young child with feet that are growing rapidly might get years of use from skates that lengthen a full four sizes.
Comfort and Speed
If you want your kids to use and enjoy their skates, a comfortable boot is a must. The boot holds the foot in place, and a kid wearing an inadequate boot is likely to come home with aching feet. Although you can still find cheap boots made from plastic, the best are soft boots that cradle the feet. Incline Warehouse notes that boots for beginners feature a higher cut in order to provide more support, but if your child is a good skater who wants to go fast, low-cut boots and smaller wheels may be the best choice.
Lace Them Up
There are different options for lacing up skating boots, ranging from actual shoe laces to straps to velcro. The best lacing system for kids depends on their personal preference and their ability to lace and unlace the boot without any assistance. Finally, make sure your child has the proper safety equipment -- a good helmet, plastic knee pads, a wrist guard and elbow pads.
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.