With an almost eight-year-old and a three-and-a-half-year-old toddler, I’m still in the "teach my kids how to ski" phase.
Disclaimer: I am not a ski instructor and don’t claim to be one. I’m just a mom trying to instill the love of skiing and the outdoors so we can all enjoy these hobbies together.
I did learn some things from first-hand experience teaching my kids how to ski, so I’m here to share my top five.
Get them excited off the snow
Before my kids stepped foot on snow with their skis, we rented equipment and had them walk around the house in their cute tiny ski boots. This helped them get used to the feeling of walking in their boots. Once they felt comfortable, we had them click into the skis and shuffle around in their boots and skis. (Pro tip: Have them do this on a carpeted area or the grass in your backyard. Better grip and control with the skis and not risk any scratches to wood floors or the skis.)
Keep the home hype going by putting on base layers together (ours all happened to match and that was a bonus), trying on helmets and goggles, watching ski videos, and doing countdowns until ski day.
For us, that excited them to try everything we did at home – on the snow.
It’s never too early, or is it?
Both of my kids started skiing when they were a year old (almost two). And by skiing, I mean gliding towards me on snow. Is that technically skiing? We can debate that later. I was probably more excited than they were.
Every child is different, so this is by no means a hard and fast rule, but I realized that one, two, and even some three-year-olds may be too young to have the mental and physical ability to grasp all that skiing entails.
If you plan to take your young children (one and two-year-olds) to the slopes, keep your expectations low and be prepared to spend more time in the lodge or playing at the base than actually skiing. Check out my blog on the must-haves to keep your kids entertained while you ski.
The biggest takeaway here is to make sure they are having FUN. If they are warm, fed and comfortable, even if they are making snow angels rather than turns – this is a good thing.
Go at their pace
If the kids are closer to three or four years old and have the muscle and mental capability to implement skiing techniques, make sure to still go at their pace. I’ve had to remind myself that skiing, in general, and being in a cold, mountainous environment (despite the amount of exposure over the years) can still be an intimidating setting for them.
I started by lapping the smallest magic carpet run before moving to a chairlift. They may do two laps before they want to warm up. They may want to do 15 laps. Depending on interest, ability, comfort level, and maybe even naptime schedule – let them take the lead on how long they want to be out there and be their biggest fan and cheerleader.
Harnesses, ropes, poles, oh my!
Many parents ski with their young kids in harnesses or slope ropes. I chose not to use those with my kids because I was worried they would not focus as much on the proper stance and body positioning, watching where they are going, or learning to control their speed and direction.
What I found to work best for my kids was using one of my ski poles and skiing with them side by side. This required them to stand up on their own and get comfortable with the movements and balance, and the pole gave them comfort in having something to hold on to while still allowing me to control speed and direction.
Once they were comfortable with that, we took the pole away, and I would have them ski toward me on their own (while I skied backwards). The stronger they get, the more you can challenge them.
If all else fails, leave it up to the experts
Honestly, sometimes a parent-kid teaching situation is not ideal. Parents get frustrated, kids don’t listen to their parents as well as they listen to other adults, and it’s just not a great experience for anyone.
All of Utah’s world-class resorts have amazing ski school programs with trained instructors. This might be the best option for your family to ensure your kids are learning the proper techniques from a professional. And, they'll learn alongside kids their age which is fun for them and might result in some future ski buddies! If you decide to leave it up to the professionals, remember to not tag along during their lessons. It's distracting for your child, the others and the instructor.
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