What better way to show your kids a love of the outdoors, sports, and winter than by teaching them to ski?
Skiing is a fun pastime, a great exercise method, and serves as a delightful bonding activity between children and their parents. Indeed, who wouldn’t want to watch their little kids skiing on their own?
However, like with teaching your child how to ride a bike, teaching kids to ski involves quite a bit of forethought.
How do you make the learning process as effective as you can, while ensuring that both you and your child stay safe?
We’ll discuss safety tips, teaching methods, and more – but let’s first determine whether or not your child is ready to ski.
- 1 When Can Children Start Skiing
- 2 Ski School or DIY
- 3 How to Teach Your Kid to Ski
- 4 And Above All, Have Fun Teaching Your Kids to Ski
When Can Children Start Skiing
Summer from The Points Guy recommends starting kids at five years old.
There are children much younger who could ski without worry, but they probably have more experience being out and about in the snow, with parents who regularly visit the slopes.
If your family only goes skiing once a year, your kid may not be comfortable enough to learn quickly.
Before you bring your two-year-old skiing, remember to account for how long they can hold out in the cold.
It’s much better to teach your kids after they’ve been potty trained and when they can go through most of the day without a nap. Otherwise, it’s a better experience for the whole family to let junior simply play with snowballs.
Remember, when learning anything new, a child’s comfort should be put first. There’s little point in forcing them to learn a skill they aren’t ready for.
As a matter of fact, doing so may backfire, since they will remember the experience in a negative light. If your child has a terrible day on the slopes, it may be hard to convince them to pick up their skis again.
Ski School or DIY
There are many ski resorts that offer lessons for children. Most of these offer private play and lessons for children ages two to three, and group lessons for ages three to five.
These lessons can be expensive, which is another reason why parents opt to teach kids themselves.
Other than the cost, many parents hope to use skiing as a way to bond with their kids. However, while it may feel like you’re doing your child wrong by handing them over to an instructor, the truth may be the opposite.
At least for children who have no previous experience skiing, enrolling in a ski school or hiring an instructor has its benefits.
What exactly are the benefits of having a professional teach your child, rather than doing it yourself?
Skill and Expertise
It’s good to teach and bond with your kids, but you may not have enough knowledge and expertise in teaching toddlers to ski.
When you hire an instructor or enroll your children in a skiing lesson, you can rest assured that they’re taught by qualified professionals.
People who have the know-how and experience in both skiing and teaching children can optimize the learning experience.
The instructors know how to teach children of a specific age or skill level, they can keep children engaged, and they’ll use techniques that keep lessons effective.
Because instructors know how to teach skiing as well as how to handle children, they are able to incorporate techniques that allow students to learn while having fun.
This play-learning technique can help your child associate skiing with a positive experience; chances are, in the future, they will want to learn more about skiing and will pick up the skill faster.
On the other hand, it can also be more fun for the parents; many couples go out with the family but would also value time between just the two of them.
It can be great to place your children in the hands of an expert and simply encourage their three-year-old skiing experience from the sidelines.
Especially for those who offer private lessons, professional instructors know how to ensure their own safety and the safety of their student.
Even if you’re a pretty advanced skier, you may not know how to gauge whether a technique is too advanced or if a slope is too steep.
With experience and knowledge, an instructor can ensure that there are no accidents on the slope.
How to Teach Your Kid to Ski
Of course, there are parents who are fully equipped to teach their own children. There are also families who are already familiar on the snow, and skiing is pretty much the same thing as walking.
If you’re not that kind of parent, but you just want to save a few bucks, it’s still not a bad idea to teach your child on your own, as long as you do it right.
With these tips and tricks, even you can teach your three-year-old skiing in no time.
Get Their Gear Right
While often overlooked, what your child is wearing can greatly affect their disposition—and willingness to learn—for the rest of the day.
Make sure that all exposed areas are covered, including the neck and between the sleeves and gloves. Also, make sure that you pack extra clothing for your kid; chances are, there will be a lot of wipe-outs on the snow. A cold and wet child will be an unhappy child!
Make sure to keep your kid’s comfort as the number one priority. Ask if any of their clothing is too tight or otherwise uncomfortable.
To get them comfortable, have them walk around in their winter clothing while still indoors, complete with boots and protective gear.
Follow this up with actual skis on their feet; have them walk on level ground so they can get comfortable with them. This will ensure they’re used to the skis, and that can make a world of difference.
It’s also a good idea to check for the right size. Renting is a better choice than buying equipment since your children will outgrow them quickly.
For those who want to teach skiing themselves, determine if there is a way to reserve equipment, such as child-sized helmets and toddler skis, at the resort beforehand.
Those who sign up for lessons usually have gear accompanying the enrollment price.
Don’t expect your child to learn all the basics in one go. Chances are, learning is going to be a long experience.
As a matter of fact, don’t expect your child to want to learn everything. They may only have interest in skiing one basic slope and nothing more.
If your kid doesn’t want to continue with your lessons, perhaps it’s time to call it a day. There is still a chance that they’ll want to continue some other day; pushing them will only make them upset and less likely to take up their skis some other time.
When it comes to specific techniques, make sure that your child is comfortable with one technique before moving on with another.
Start with small, gentle slopes, giving an example of the technique yourself so that your child has something to pattern their movement after.
If your kid is with other children, you may have to ensure that they don’t go off doing something above their skill level just to impress their companions. Peer pressure is terrible in any environment—but especially on the slopes and at high speeds.
This video shows an example of teaching toddlers to ski.
Keep it Fun
It’s always a good idea to keep the environment fun and inviting. There are many ways to make sure your tyke is having a good time while learning.
One method of keeping things light is to treat it like a game—and the way to win is to have fun.
Play games, challenge them to small contests and crack jokes. Make “having fun” the primary goal and “learning” the second.
Here are a few tips to make skiing fun for your kid.
Start with the Basics
Of course, it’s always a good idea to start with the basics; namely, how to get up, glide, and stop.
These three techniques are the foundation in all other techniques. Mastering them will get your kid moving like a pro in no time.
Before your child actually zooms down a slope, be sure to teach them how to get up after a fall.
Surprisingly, a lot of parents overlook this step and end up with sore backs at the sheer number of times they have to stoop down.
There are two good ways to get up from what is probably a slippery and shifting terrain. The key method is to stand up with the skis pointing across the hill, so as to ensure you keep your balance—otherwise you will fall right back down again.
Have your kid practice this technique a few times, and then upgrade from there.
After your child knows how to get back up from a fall, the next thing to teach is how to move around. Balance is key in skiing, and it’s wise to begin on small bunny slopes.
Remind them to keep an eye on the direction that they want to go; it will take a bit of getting used to, but your kid will adapt with time.
Once your child is comfortable moving around on their own, the next thing to teach them is how to stop.
Nothing’s more terrifying than speeding down the slopes with no idea how to stop. Even for an adult! As such, it’s important to get that technique down early.
The wedge can feel unnatural to a lot of children, and it’s the cause of many wipeouts on the slopes.
To minimize falling over (and having you, the parent, cushion their fall), have them practice forming the wedge with their skis on solid ground.
This will make the movement familiar to them so that it’s easier to apply in the snow. For children who are having a tough time stopping on their skis, an Edgie Wedgie (a harness attached to the front tips of the skis) can be an immense help.
Just make sure that you don’t keep this harness on for too long, so that your child doesn’t grow dependent on it.
Have Your Child Mirror You
A great way to transition from simple basics to actually moving down slopes is to have your child mirror you.
Going at a slow pace, ski right in front of your child so that they can mimic the actions you make. Just make sure there’s another adult around to keep an eye on them.
This is especially effective for teaching turns; create loose S-shapes on the snow, making turns tighter and tighter as your child masters the last batch.
Take Frequent Breaks
If you’re a parent, you’re already aware that children need lots of breaks. Boston.com recommends taking a break as soon as your child’s interest begins to wane.
Simply playing around in the snow to catch your breath for a few minutes can be enough; make sure to also have lots of hot cocoa breaks, checking to see if your kid needs a change of clothing.
This video has more tips on taking little kids skiing.
And Above All, Have Fun Teaching Your Kids to Ski
Skiing is a fun and energizing sport that can hone your body, spice up your winter vacation, and create great memories. As such, teaching your kid to love the activity is, of course, a goal.
While there are obstacles you may face, teaching your child how to ski can be a source of happy memories for both of you.
Plus, your kid learned a skill—not just in skiing, but in perseverance, discipline, and patience. It may even be a great way for them to meet new friends as well!
So, if you plan on getting your family out on the slopes, remember to start small, have patience, and make it all about the fun experience.
If you let your child learn at their own pace, in no time at all, they’ll be aching to race past you on the mountain.
Do you have any tips on teaching kids to ski?