Even though curling is played indoors, those unfamiliar with the game may not realize that it can be chilly inside the rink. Cold affects children more than adults so it’s a good idea, at a minimum, for children to wear a fleece sweater and mitts when on the ice. Inevitably, there are at least a few kids who try the sport for the first time in just a shirt and nothing on their hands, and after 20 minutes their attention span drops as they concentrate on just trying to stay warm.
First of all, we need to prepare our children with the proper equipment. For the first-timers and real little people, most of what they need may already be in their clothes closet, so additional purchases are not necessary. Warm clothing is a given; stretchy pant wear, sweater or jacket, gloves or mitts. Actual curling shoes are not necessary, if you can even find the sizes small enough. Who wants to spend the money on sport specific equipment anyway, until the interest and commitment to the sport as be determined.
The curling club will be supplying ‘step on sliders’ or sliding tape for the kids. Clean rubber soled running shoes will act as double grippers for the kids to move upon the ice surface. Be sure that the shoes do in fact have rubber soles, for some runners have plastic elements in the mixture of the sole. When these soles become cold, they become very slippery…. so be aware! A simple test is to press your finger nail into the sole; if your nail does not easily flex the sole, then it is not rubber…. polymers will make the sole stiff and not as pliable as rubber.
In my experience, cross-country ski mitts make great curling mitts for kids, particularly those with a leather outer layer (great for gripping a curling broom) and a wool-or-cotton inner layer for warmth. Wool mitts, such as the ubiquitous 2010 red Canadian Olympic mitts, don’t work well since they’re too slippery on broom handles.
Finally – it is possible to curl in jeans, but it’s often very difficult because they don’t permit the freedom of movement one needs to deliver a curling stone. Track pants are a great and relatively inexpensive alternative.
As Mort says, bike helmets can be a good idea for young children or beginners who don’t have a good sense of balance. Their use is still relatively uncommon within curling clubs, but I have seen them used at Elmira and elsewhere. If a helmet can make a child more confident on the ice, then it’s worth considering.