In case you haven’t heard, January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. This means good deals on lessons at resorts around the U.S.
So to help you get your kids (and possibly you!) rocking and rolling on snow this winter, here are some top tips to help you start right, and start right now!
TIP ONE: Take a Lesson. While it might be tempting to teach your kids on your own, everyone will get off to a better, less emotional start with a lesson from a professional ski or snowboard instructor.
If you want to teach your kids after the first lesson, ask the instructor if you can join them at the end of the lesson to observe. Then, after the lesson, ask the instructor to suggest appropriate terrain for practicing and for teaching tips that you and your child can use together.
TIP TWO: Be Prepared. Before the lesson, make sure your kids know what to expect. Visit the resort’s website. Look at the trail map and find the ski school and rental shop. Pick a meeting place and find it on the map. Get oriented before you arrive at the resort.
Also, watch videos on YouTube about learning to ski. You can find content showing kids how to ride a magic carpet or a chairlift, plus what a lesson will be like! It’s a great way to get them fired up.
TIP THREE: Dress for the Coldest Weather of the Day. It’s always better to remove or stow a layer if you’re hot, than to have too few clothes and be cold. Pack extra gear like socks, mittens and handwarmers and ask the ski school where you can store these.
TIP FOUR: Emphasize Fun. Sometimes parents are more nervous than their kids about ski lessons. Sometimes the kids are nervous, too. The purpose of ski and snowboard lessons is simply to have fun, BIG fun! Make sure your child knows that the instructor will not grade them, give them homework or be anything but fun!
Earl Saline, a ski and snowboard instructor and former trainer with PSIA/AASI, suggests keeping your concerns to yourself. While you or your child may be scared, don’t mention it to the instructor. They’ll sense it and know exactly how to handle the situation. Keep your tone light, enthusiastic and confident. If you act relaxed, your child will feel more relaxed.
TIP FIVE: Age is Just a Number. Parents often wonder how old their kids need to be before they start skiing or snowboarding. According to Annie Breckheimer, a family instructor at Vail with two decades of experience, the appropriate age is “not a number, but an attitude.”
If your child is excited and enthusiastic about skiing, capitalize on this. But remember, little ones rarely have a lot of stamina and these early lessons should focus more on fun, than quick progression.
For older kids, don’t get hung up on the child’s chronological age, but rather their ability. In group lessons, it’s important that the students’ ability levels and speed match up.
“Good instructors will divide up the classes so that the kids learn from the instructors and from each other,” explains Breckheimer.
TIP SIX: Bring a Friend. Learning something new is always more fun with friends. This is especially true for tweens and teens who are social by nature.
“It is really important that these kids get to hang out and ride with their peers. That is their motivator. Kids will progress much more rapidly if they are skiing with friends and motivated by competition with these friends,” explains Kate Belknap of the Powderhorn Mountain Resort Ski and Ride Center in Colorado.
TIP SEVEN: Manage Your Expectations. While fearful parents may cause their kids to be nervous, overconfident parents can put pressure on kids. Every child progresses at their own rate.
Make sure you don’t compare siblings or friends and don’t push your child too hard, too fast. All it takes is one big fall to dash new-found skills. If you’re skiing or snowboarding with your child after a lesson, let them pick the terrain and set the pace.
TIP EIGHT: Seize the Deals! Take advantage of free and discounted lessons during at over 300 resorts in 33 states during Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month.
To find lessons in your area, visit the LSSM website and click on Find Lessons. From here, choose your region, then your state and then click on your favorite resort. January promotions vary, with some resorts offering free or discounted lessons, as well as discounts on rentals, lift tickets and more.
In addition to finding great deals on lessons, the LSSM website is a good resource for information on what to wear skiing, how to rent equipment, visiting ski resorts and more tips for parents.
- What You Need to Know to Start Your Child Skiing or Snowboarding, January 11, 2011.
- Get Your Kids Ready for Ski and Ride School, January 4, 2012.
- What to Do With a Scared Skier? January 17, 2012.
- Is Anyone Too Good for Ski or Ride Lessons? January 31, 2012.
- More Than Gadgets: Learn-to-Ski Aids for Young Children, December 3, 2012.
- Our Child Doesn’t Want to Ski. What Should We Try?, February 27, 2013.
- Do Kids Have to Ski Before They Ride?, March 15, 2012.
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