Knowing what age to start your child in Mite hockey can be a difficult decision. Here's some questions you can ask yourself that will help you assess your child's ability to play at the Mite level:
1) Has he or she participated in a learn to skate or learn to play hockey program? If not, that should be the first step. Most kids start skating at age four or five. The only way to find out if your child is ready to start learning how to skate is to enroll him or her in a local program. Some kids will take to skating right away. Others may need to wait until they are a little older and try again if they get easily frustrated or haven't developed the proper coordination yet.
2) Can he stay on his feet? If your son or daughter spends more time flat on the ice than standing up, keep him or her in a learn to skate program a little bit longer until they can stay on their feet confidently.
3) Can she stop? If your child cannot stop, they should wait to move up to the Mite level until he or she has learned at least a basic one-foot or wedge stop; preferably a basic hockey stop on at least one side.
4) Can he or she stick handle? Your child doesn't need to be Sydney Crosby, but they have to at least be able to move the puck around on their forehand or backhand, make turns, stop with the puck and shoot the puck in the general direction of the net. At the Mite level, a young skater should also be able to attempt a proper pass.
These steps do not need to be mastered and by no means should discourage anyone from starting their child playing the great sport of Mite hockey. A good coach will work to develop all of these skills in each of his Mite players over the course of the season. What you want to ultimately avoid as a parent is moving up your child to Mites before he or she is ready, setting him or her up for frustration if they cannot keep up with the other players.