Learn To Skate


At Thornhill, we offer 3 different programs for learning to skate. Scroll down below for more information.


Pre-CanSkate introduces skating to young children aged 3 & 4 on the first day of the program. It is a 30 minute group lesson with a coach-to-student ratio of a maximum of 1:4 with a NCCP-trained coach. Skaters will learn the basics of moving forward, moving backwards, and standing up unassisted in a fun, encouraging environment with teaching aids, games and a wide variety of activities. Skaters are assessed every time they are on the ice and will move up to CanSkate when ready or when the skater turns 5. Skaters are not required to have any previous skating experience to participate in Pre-CanSkate. Skaters are required to have skates, a warm jacket, warm pants, mittens and a CSA approved hockey helmet with a face mask.

Sorry, no parents on the ice.


CanSkate is a dynamic learn-to-skate program that focuses on fun, participation and basic skill development for children aged 5+ on the first day of the program. Based on Sports Canada’s long-term athlete development (LTAD) principles, CanSkate centers on physical literacy and the fundamental skills needed to take part in any ice sport or to skate as a recreational activity.

Who’s it for?

For beginners for skaters aged 5+ on the first day, as well as for those wishing to improve their basic skills whether their focus be for figure skating, hockey, speed skating or just skating for fun.

Who teaches it?

NCCP-trained professional coaches, assisted by trained program assistants.

What will you learn?

A complete series of balance, control and agility skills taught in six stages of learning that pertain to hockey, ringette, speed skating and figure skating as well as general recreational skating. CanSkate uses nationally-tested and proven curriculum and delivery methods that guarantee skater success in developing stronger basic skills and developing them faster.

What can you expect?

Action, movement and fun! The CanSkate session is 50 minutes long, with a 30 minute group lesson with a coach-to-student ratio of a maximum of 1:8 with a NCCP-trained professional coach, a 10 minute group warm-up and a 10 minute group cool-down. Skaters are assessed every time they skate so they can progress at their own rate. Coaches make sessions active using teaching aids, upbeat music and a wide variety of activities that create a motivational environment and promote learning. Badges, ribbons and other incentives are used to benchmark skaters’ progress and reward effort and participation.


What do you need to participate?

All you need are skates, a CSA-approved hockey helmet, long pants, mittens, warm sweater or jacket. Dress in layers – it will get warm!

Are private lessons available?

Parents who feel their skaters need a little more one-on-one attention may book private lessons with our CanSkate coaches. This private coaching will be an additional cost to you, the coaching fees are not included in your CanSkate fees. Skaters must be registered for a minimum of one regular CanSkate session for the season in which they would like to have lessons. Example: If a skater is registered for a Fall CanSkate session, they may only have private lessons during the Fall season. If they would like to continue private lessons in the Winter, they must register for a Winter CanSkate session. All our coaches are independent contractors, so they make their own schedule and fees. Please contact them directly to arrange for private lessons. The office cannot schedule your lessons for you.

Talent ID

Unique to Thornhill, our Talent ID program in an introduction to competitive figure skating for young children. The program is by audition only and is meant for skaters aged 5-7 who show potential in figure skating. Skaters will progress through 4 levels of the program, focusing on the jumping, spinning and skating skills technique required to continue with figure skating. Skaters will be rewarded with incentives throughout the program as they develop and master new skills. At the end of the program, skaters will be ready to begin taking private lessons and move into the STARSkate program.

The program runs twice a week and both days are mandatory. Please see our online store for final schedule and fees. The program has an on ice and off ice portion each day. Both the on ice and off ice portion are mandatory. The on ice portion is 50 minutes long, includes a 5 minute welcome (presentation circle), a 40 minute group lesson with a NCCP-trained coach and a 5 minute goodbye. During the 5 minute welcome, skaters will be chosen to receive an incentive based on their presentation. During the 5 minute goodbye, skaters will be chosen by their group coach to perform an element they have mastered and will receive an incentive for their hard work. The off ice portion is 30 minute long. Skaters will learn the correct jump rope, stretching and dryland training techniques necessary for figure skating.

Dress Code:

Girls are required to have proper figure skates, proper skating tights, a figure skating skirt or dress, gloves and a fitted zip up sweater that does not fall below their hips. No helmets or pants allowed.

Boys are required to have proper figure skates, proper skating pants (no jeans or sweat pants), gloves and a zip up sweater that does not fall below their hips. No helmets allowed.

Figure skates, dresses, skirts, pants and tights can all be purchased at the Figure Skating Boutique, located at 109 Doncaster Rd.

All skaters are required to have a rubber jump rope, yoga mat and ballet slippers for off ice. Jump ropes and yoga mats can be purchased at any sporting goods store and ballet slippers can be purchased at any dancewear store.

what happens after learn to skate?

After a skater has completed the CanSkate program, they have a few options. They may choose to continue with figure skating and enter the first level of the STARSkate program, STAR 1. All skaters who wish to pursue figure skating recreationally or competitively will begin at this level. At the STAR 1 level, skaters will have to hire a private coach and will begin to have private lessons. They may also choose to pursue another sport such as hockey or speed skating or they may choose just to skate recreationally. Regardless of what avenue your skater chooses, the CanSkate program will prepare them for a lifelong love of skating. After completing the Talent ID program, skaters will enter the first level of the STARSkate program, STAR 1. All skaters who wish to pursue figure skating recreationally or competitively will begin at this level. The Talent ID Coordinator, Katerina Papafotiou, will speak with the skater and their parents to arrange a private coach that the Coordinator feels will best suit your skater’s needs and goals.


From beginner to World level competitors, we have a program suited for everyone.