10 Reasons Why Ski Lessons Trump Parents' Instruction
Kids learn to ski and snowboard quickly with proper instruction...period. I learned as an adult, and I have all the fears that kids don't have. When kids take lessons they are given a clean slate.
Instructors teach them proper ways to start, stop, get off the lift and they listen (well mostly listen). As adults, we think we are definitely smarter and can "do it ourselves." That is why when it comes time for your own kids to ski, you have the attitude of "well, I'm a very good skier—I'll teach them!"
Oh such a bad idea. I'm not saying that many of you are not awesome skiers—I'm sure you are. But I am here to tell you that your kids will listen much better to someone else. They will cry less, they will whine less, they will try harder and they will want to keep up with the rest of the group. You will also have a relaxing day while watching from afar and get some photos. This also goes for teaching a friend or your spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend. You will be more likely to still be together by the end of the day if you hand the reins to someone else.
Reasons YOU should not teach your kids, significant others/friends to ski/board:
1. It is hard. After starting my kids on skis when they were 2/3 years old and they are now 9 and 11, I am here to tell you it is a lot of work. You have to LOVE it and so do your kids. The shear challenge of packing pockets with snacks, packing the car and lugging all the equipment up the hill is enough to have you huffing and puffing. Do yourself a favor and once you get to the resort, turn them over to the ski school and take a break.
2. January is learn to ski and snowboard month. This is the time to get kids/neighbors/adults/spouse...out to learn. There are the best deals of the year for anyone to learn. If you've always thought, "it's too expensive", this is the time. The deals at all resorts are unbelievable! I mean I just took the kids to a matinee movie and with snacks and all, it tops $50! You can get a lesson, rentals and a lift ticket at some resorts for less than that during January! Sometimes my kids are mad at me, but I am a Mom that doesn't allow gadgets, tablets, gaming systems.... they just got a small tablet, but I only allow it a small amount of time. Healthy outdoor time is my motto in life.
3. Learning to pizza and french fries. I'm sure you've seen/heard parents screaming at their kids to "pizza". This is putting your skis in a wedge to slow down. This is something the instructors can handle. First, you don't want your kids in a wedge "pizza" forever. For some, this is their idea on their kids being a "great skier". Stay tuned for this one, that blog is coming and I know will ruffle a few feathers. As the little ski group moves down the mountain for the first time, the instructors will make sure it is at a snails pace and the kids understand how to stop. You don't want them crashing and hitting someone or something so the safety aspect is hit hard. One thing kids will learn very quick is the "conduct code" at resorts. In fact, your kids may teach you this once you take them out. Once the safety thing is down, they learn quickly how to turn and stop. I would definitely get at least this down before you decide to take out the kids or spouse.
4. Get them out of the "back seat". Ugh. My biggest problem for sure. In order to ski correctly, you must lean forward. Study your ski boot. When you put your boots on, you lean forward on the front of boot. Note how your heel pulls back and your toes come away from the tip. Aha, this feels better. Your knees are slightly bent and your weight is forward. I can say all this because there is NO WAY I ski like this. Yes, I've had lessons but this old horse is not learning new tricks very easy. Case in point, when you see parents teaching kids to ski, some use the harness and it pulls the kids weight backward. I'm not going to talk about this since I am in no way an expert; BUT it pulls the kid way back-into the back seat. In the photo, edgie wedgies are used to keep the tips from crossing and keeping the skis straight in the back the poles are helping. This helps in the form. Instructors won't do this, but many will use the edgie wedgies to start.
5. Instructors know the "right" slopes to be on. How many times have you heard, "you can do this slope, it's easy". Then you see the group get to the top and it is a big yard sale. (when someone falls and the skis/poles...go flying off). I witnessed this from the lift recently. A Mom trying to teach her 9ish age child. Mom lost her ski, she was trying to get her child to stand up, he was screaming and crying and wouldn't stand up. I'm guessing this may have been the last run of the day. Probably too steep for the child but Mom had had enough of the "beginner" slopes so thought this was a great idea. NOT! Instructors will keep the kids/beginners on an easy slope all day or however long it takes for the student to really get the hang of stopping/starting before progressing to a bigger slope. To push anyone too soon is a bad idea. They may get hurt, may not like you by the end and may end the day sooner than you think.
6. Kids behave for others better than you. I don't know about you, but my kids will whine, complain and don't listen to me. When I see them with their coaches-good as gold! They're ripping down the slopes, not complaining and listening-having a great time! There is something that happens to little people when put in a group of other little people. They look around and little friendships form and a little friendly competition. I can bet they won't be left behind in the group. Ski schools are brilliant in the assembly of groups. Similar ski abilities are put together and they click. They are like little ducks. They follow the instructor, they listen, they giggle and it is amazing to watch.
7. Instructors will push a little harder than you. "My legs are sore, my fingers are cold, I'm hungry". How many times have I heard this? Just when you've exerted all your energy to get on the slope, this happens. Are you kidding? We just started! So, in a lesson, they have planned times to stop. Everyone goes potty, gets a drink of water, grabs their hand warmers and away they go. Done! Besides, your little one will not be the only one with sore legs-they are forging on to be like the rest of the group.
8. Kids can earn rewards. Let's face it, kids operate on "earning" things. I'm not saying right or wrong, I'm saying it's life. In school, they earn stickers for great behavior, at home they get an allowance or earn screen time. At ski school, they earn a report card, stickers or a ski button. Every resort does it's own thing, but let me tell you; stickers are the most amazing thing ever invented! My kids still love stickers. They get a free sticker and it is better than money (if only it would stay that way). At the end of a lesson, kids will earn something and for them, it is a sense of achievment. They worked hard and they were rewarded. It is incentive to go again and with skiing or boarding, it is what you want. You want a positive experience where they will want to go again and improve on what they learned.
9. Getting on/off the lift takes practice. If you've ever tried to just lift your child out of the car or onto the saddle of a horse, you know they are heavy. OK, maybe not the 2 year olds, but as they get older, they give you that "dead weight" thing. So when you put them on the lift with those skis or a board, you're holding your poles and the lift comes sliding up and you try to keep your skis straight, kids skis straight and you may have 2 other people on the lift with you; it is stressful! Trying to keep everyone from becoming tangled can be a challenge. Everyone is going is all directions. Let the instructor do the work. For me, this always gave me the most anxiety. Especially if they are very small, you have to pick them up and ski forward out of the way. I remember one time where I had Brennan, couldn't quite lift him, we both fell and his foot came right out of his boot and he was standing there with his sock on, I was in a tangle on the ground and the lift had stopped. Not one of my shining parenting moments. In lessons, they work on this part. After several lessons, your kids will get the hang of it or at least understand how to do it. That way, when you are ready to take over, they've already done this many times. This also goes with your spouse. If you get tangled up with them and you both are sprawled out on the ground, it may be a quiet ride down the mountain!
10. You will have a relaxing day. If the kids are in good hands, you can do your thing on the slopes. That can range from bombing down the black diamonds or just doing cruisers and stopping to enjoy the view when you want (this is me). Lessons can range from 1/2 day to all day; once a week to consecutive days; but whatever you choose, it will make your life easier going forward.
So with this said, get outdoors! Give skiing or boarding a try and enjoy that fresh mountain air. My favorite moment...picking Emily up from her ski training day and seeing the twinkle in her eye and her rosy cheeks-that spells happy and healthy to me.