So, you’ve had to take a couple of years out from your skiing holidays because you’ve started a family or had a new addition. Those exciting days on the piste seem oh so far away, as do those often more exciting apres-ski evenings!
When will you ever get back to ploughing through virgin powder; racing down the Black run; or hopping through the mogul fields? Well, the simple answer to that is, whenever you can get your child safely onto the slopes, right?
So, when is it a good stage for your new child to start skiing?
Children as young as 3 years old can start having private lessons in most resorts. Too young, you think? Well, next time you see a group of ski-clad munchkins gracefully meander past you, in perfect unison, on a tricky Red, just ask yourself how old you think they are. It seems like local Alpine children get their first pair of skis before they can even walk!
Of course, every child is different and being raised on the slopes makes it much easier for local children. The most important thing to consider for your child is: will they be able to understand and communicate with the instructor and other adults?
Lesson duration is important also. Your little ones will not be able to last very long in the cold without getting grumpy, especially clad in clunky ski-wear, helmet and boots. Their strength and motor skills are still developing so they will get tired easily. The last thing you want is for your little treasure to go into a tantrum midpoint between lift stations – that would be a torturous decent! No, short lessons with plenty of breaks is the way ahead.
Every child is different and learns new skills at a different pace. Yes, Dad may well want to have that motivational speech with young Johnny at the top of the Black run before they both hurl themselves down slope. But, 3-year old Johnny might have different ideas. So, Dad, temper your expectations at the start.
There are other factors that will determine when your child should start skiing:
- Will they be OK with the instructor? They may have taught Franz Klammer how to downhill, but your instructor’s experience with children may be limited. How used is your child to meeting new adults and children? Are they used to being separated from their parents for a few hours; at day care for instance? These are things for you to consider.
- Can your child concentrate well, listen to and take in new instructions?
- Unless your child is descendant of Pingu, they probably won’t last too long in the snow. How long can they cope before cold and irritation ruins their lesson; and everyone else’s.
These are not hard and fast rules and only you know your child well enough to decide and maybe considering these things will help you do that.
Ski Lessons Or Teach Them Yourself?
As we’ve just pointed out, you know your child best and, of course, they learn best from their parents. Our professional ski instructors could not possibly be as good a teacher of your child as you are. They are too focused on skiing. They’ve spent far too much time in the hills learning their craft, perfecting their passion and developing new ski teaching techniques. They live, sleep and breath skiing – that is ALL they have to offer.
But, if you do want to have a couple of free hours during the day to enjoy the slopes on your own or with friends, our ski instructors would be glad to help you with this and teach your child.
How else can I help them learn and progress their skiing skills?
Ski lessons are perfect for your child to learn the fundamentals of skiing, but there is a lot you can do to develop them further.
- Before You Even Reach The Ski Resort. While you are still at home you can get your child used to the equipment. Get them to wear their helmet, boots and ski suit to familiarize themselves with how they will feel. A cheap pair of plastic skis can get them used to the type of movement they will experience on the slopes and help develop their ‘ski muscles’.
- At The Ski Resort. Before their first lesson, take them onto a really gentle and quiet slope. This will help familiarize them with the conditions and prepare them for their first lesson. It also lets you sort out any snags with their kit.
- After a Couple of Lessons. When they’ve experienced a lesson or two try helping them by:
- Balance Practice. Good balance is the key to good skiing. Get them doing simple balancing exercises on both skis, then individual left and right. Try to avoid balancing for them – it will lead to bad habits and less independence.
- Play. Make things fun. Children (and adults for that matter) learn best when they’re having fun. There are loads of fun things to do in the snow as well as skiing, so get to play!
Whenever you decide to take your children on their first ski trip, we hope these tips will help your whole family have a wonderful time on the slopes.