Are your kids going to ski or snowboard ski school this winter?
We hope so. Because here at Braveskimom.com, we believe that professional ski or snowboard lessons are among the best investments a family can make.
For although there are parents out there who can teach their kids to ski or ride, most of us 1) don’t have the patience, 2) don’t have the training and 3) are way too emotionally invested in the outcome.
Turning the teaching over to the pros means that you can disengage and enjoy yourself, alone or with friends, on the slopes while your child enjoys learning from a professional instructor who is specially trained to teach children. It’s a total win-win.
But before the lesson begins, here are some things for you do with your child to prepare him or her for success.
Before the First Lesson
For young children, the first ski or snowboard lesson can be stressful, especially, if your child doesn’t know what to expect.
It’s kind of like the first day of school, in a new town. Your child may have questions or fears, but not verbalize them.
Some of the things she may be thinking are “Will the teacher be nice?” “Will the other kids be nice?” “Can I do this?” “Where will my parents be?”
To help overcome any pre-lesson anxiety, follow these tips.
1. Do Your “Homework.” Before the lesson, familiarize your child with the ski area or resort. Visit the resort website. Look at the trail map. Point out the ski school and where you will be while your child is in class. If you’re on vacation and staying at the resort, point out your lodging.
2. Try on Clothing and Gear at Home. Do a clothing and gear trial run a day or two before the first lesson. Make sure you have everything you need (here’s a handy downloadable ski clothing and gear checklist) and that everything fits. Put the clothing your child will wear in one pile. Put everything else in a bag that you’ll take to the resort.
If you have ski or snowboard equipment at home, help your child put on the boots and stomp around on carpet. Attach the boots to the skis or board and let your child practice some simple sliding, either on carpet or outside on snow or grass.
3. Talk About It. Discuss with your child what to expect from ski and ride school. Help her understand that although there will be students and a teacher, ski school is not like regular school. It’s more like recess all of the time.
Explain that the instructor helps kids learn about their equipment and how to move on skis or a snowboard. Emphasize that the lesson is all about having fun — BIG fun!
4. Visit Before Class. If you can, visit the ski school before the first lesson. If your child doesn’t want to go inside, just walk by and get familiar with the school’s location. If your child is willing to go in, introduce yourself and your child to the staff. Ask any questions you both have and take a look around.
On the Day of the Lesson
5. Check the Weather. Dress your child for the coldest weather of the day. It is better to remove and stow a layer, than to not have enough clothes.
6. Bring Extra Socks and Mittens. Most children’s ski schools have cubbies or bins where you can stow a few extra items, Bringing extra socks and mittens is a good idea. These are the items most like to get wet. And if they get wet, your child will get cold.
7. Arrive Early. Get to the Children’s Center or ski school a bit early. If you haven’t yet had a chance to visit the ski school, getting there early allows your child time to meet the staff, take a look around and get comfortable before the lesson.
8. Meet the Instructor. If you can, meet the instructor prior to the lesson. Introduce yourself and your child. Even if you’re anxious, appear relaxed and confident. Never say anything in front of your child that could shake her confidence (i.e. “Sophie is really nervous about ski school.”) Set a positive tone for the day.
9. Bring a Sharpie. Before you leave the Children’s Center, write your cell number on a) the back of your child’s lift ticket, b) a strip of tape on his helmet or c) a piece of paper in her pocket. Tell the instructor where your number is written. If someone needs to call you, this will help them quickly find your number.
After the Lesson
10. Be on Time. Be on time, or early, to pick up your child. Not only is this good manners, but arriving promptly for pick up may allow you some time to talk to the instructor after the lesson.
11. Get a Full Report. Find out where your child skied and what your child learned. Ask the instructor to recommend some runs for you and your child to ski together. If you can’t speak to the instructor, many ski schools offer a written or online report of the day’s activities, as well as recommendations for practicing and future lessons.
12. Remember To Tip. Being a ski or snowboard instructor is not just a labor of love. It is a job. Only a fraction of the amount you are paying for lessons goes to the instructor. So, please, remember to tip. A good rule is $10-$20 for a group lesson, and $50 (or more) for a private lesson.
13. Keep It Fun. While you may be really excited to ski with your child immediately after a lesson, make sure your children is willing to ski some more. If he is tired or hungry, take a break, have lunch or a snack. Then when you head out on snow, let your child take the lead, set the pace and show off what he learned in his lesson. Avoid the temptation to suggest new and harder terrain immediately after a lesson.
13. How Many Lessons? If you can afford it, and your child is willing, the optimal number of lessons is three. Three lessons builds confidence with continuity. For never-evers, the first lesson is spent learning how to use the equipment and how to slide. On day two, children begin using some of these skills, repeating what was learned and growing in confidence. By day three, most children feel like they know what they’re doing.
Now it’s all about anchoring and practicing the skills.
14. Sign Up for The Online Family Ski School. No matter how many lessons your children take, the reality is that kids spend much more time skiing and snowboarding with their parents than they ever will in lessons.
Recognizing this, I’m excited to announce the Beta launch of the Online Family Ski School.
Developed by three ski moms — Kristen Lummis (that’s me), Alyssa Erickson (The Kid Project) and Susan Strayer (Mountain Mom and Tots) — The Online Family Ski School is a nine-lesson course with parent-to-parent advice, tips and games to play with your children on snow as they learn to ski. Designed for parents and kids 10 and under, the Online Family Ski School is a fun, useful way to help your child progress from never-ever to little ripper.
January is National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month and resorts across the U.S. have deals and special programs, galore! Because parents are essential in helping their children learn-to-ski and learn-to-snowboard, we’re focusing this month on tools, tips and more to make the transition from “never-ever” beginner to fast little ripper easier and more fun.
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