Learn To Skate


At Thornhill, we offer 2 different programs for learning to skate. Please see 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 1:5 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. Face masks are optional but highly encouraged.

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.

Skaters on our CanSkate sessions also have the opportunity to be invited to join our Talent ID program, geared specifically towards competitive figure skating.

Whether you are looking to improve basic skating skills for figure skating, hockey, ringette, speed skating, or wish to skate for recreation, fitness, or fun – CanSkate will get you there.

Who’s it for?

For skaters aged 5+ on the first day of the program. CanSkate is geared towards skaters of all levels, including beginners, 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. Skaters are not required to have previous skating experience to participate. Skaters who have previous skating experience will be assessed on their first class and placed into the correct level based on their skating abilities. 

Who teaches it?

Skate Canada Certified & 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 a nationally-tested, 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 15 minute group warm-up and a 5 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?

In order to participate in the CanSkate programs, skaters must have the appropriate equipment. For safety reasons, skaters will not be allowed to participate if they do not have the appropriate equipment. No refunds, credits or make-up classes will be offered for failure to bring the proper equipment. Thornhill does not provide equipment. Please ensure the skater’s clothing is not too bulky and will not restrict their movement.


Skates – May be hockey or figure skates. Lace-up skates are preferred. We recommend these stores for the purchase of skates: The Figure Skating BoutiqueEsta CanadaSportChek. Skaters should sharpen their skates every 40 hours or so of usage. A good general rule of thumb is to sharpen your skates once every season. 

Helmet – All skaters up to and including Stage 5 are required to wear a CSA-approved hockey helmet. CSA-approved hockey helmets can be purchased at the sporting goods stores mentioned above. Face masks are highly recommended, especially for beginner skaters as they tend to fall forward more often when first learning. Skaters in Stage 6 may choose not to wear a helmet, but it is highly encouraged. As per Skate Canada, skaters who do not have a CSA-approved hockey helmet will not be allowed on the ice. Bike, multi-purpose, or ski helmets are not permitted. 

Jacket – Skaters must wear a warm jacket/sweater. Winter jackets are permitted and highly recommended. Short sleeves and/or bare arms are not permitted. 

Pants – Skaters must wear long pants. Waterproof snow or slush pants that are not too bulky are recommended for beginner skaters as they will likely be falling more often. Skaters who are more advanced may choose to wear sweatpants or leggings, as long as they are comfortable. Proper figure skating dresses/skirts with appropriate tights are encouraged. Jeans, shorts, bare legs, or non-figure skating dresses/skirts are not permitted. 

Gloves/Mittens – Skaters must have gloves or mittens to protect their hands and keep them warm. We recommend waterproof gloves/mittens for beginner skaters as they will likely be falling more often. Hockey gloves are permitted. If you forget your gloves, you can purchase a pair from the office. 

Protective Guards (Optional) – While optional, we highly encourage all skaters to purchase and wear protective plastic guards for their skates. These will protect your blades while off the ice, helping to maintain their integrity as well as maintain their sharpening. Skates should NEVER be stored in the plastic protective guards as they will trap moisture and skates will develop rust on the blades, which is a potential injury hazard. Examples: Figure Skating Boutique Example, SportChek Example 1, SportChek Example 2

Blades Covers (Optional) – While optional, we highly encourage all skaters to purchase soft fabric blade covers to protect their blades while not in use. These blade covers wick away moisture to keep blades dry and rust-free. Examples: Figure Skating Boutique Example, SportChek Example

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 at an additional cost to you. These private lessons take place during the first 15 minutes of any CanSkate session, then skaters will join their 30-minute group lesson as normal. Skaters must be registered for the session and season in which the private lessons are to take place. For example, if a skater is registered for the Fall Friday CanSkate, they may only have a private lesson during the Fall Friday CanSkate session, not the Fall Tuesday CanSkate session. They will need to re-register for the Winter season if they would like to continue private lessons. 


If you would like only private lessons with no group classes, you may do so during our open Ticket Ice times, which are typically weekday morning hours. We do not currently offer any open times during the evenings or weekends for private lessons for Pre-CanSkate/CanSkate skaters. 

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 recommend coaches due to conflict of interest nor can they schedule your lessons for you.

What happens after CanSkate?

After a skater has finished the CanSkate program, passing all 6 stages, they have a couple options:

If skaters wish to pursue figure skating, they would enter the first level of figure skating, STAR 1. At TFSC, skaters at the STAR 1 level are required to skate a minimum of twice per week. Unless otherwise specified, at TFSC, there are no group lessons included in your fees paid to TFSC at the STAR 1 and above levels. Once a skater enters the figure skating program at TFSC, which we call the Sr. Division, there are 2 costs. First, there is the cost for your ice time, which is paid directly to TFSC. The most up-to-date information regarding schedules and fees for ice costs can be found on our online registration system, Amilia. Second, there is the cost for your coaching, which is arranged with and paid directly to your private coach. A coach’s fees are based on their personal skating background, their professional skating background, as well as their personal and professional accomplishments. Coach’s rates typically range between $45 – $150 per hour. Lessons may be private, semi-private, or small group, depending on what you arrange with your coach. Your first step at this level would be to find a coach, the list of which can be found on our website under Our Coaches. All coaches are independent contractors therefore they make their own schedules and fees. Please contact them directly to arrange for lessons. The office cannot recommend coaches due to conflict of interest nor can the office schedule your lessons for you. 

A skater may also choose to pursue other ice sports, such as hockey, speed skating, or ringette. Skaters may also choose to skate recreationally for fun and to stay active. Regardless of the avenue your skater chooses, CanSkate will prepare your skater for a lifelong love of skating.



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