If skiing is a major part of your life, you’ve probably spent years dreaming of the day when you could finally take your kids out for their first skiing lesson. It’s exciting to pass on something you’re so passionate about, and under ideal circumstances, it can grow to be an activity you all share as a family.
Of course, kids are always unpredictable. We all imagine our kids are going to be prodigies and are going to fall in love with a sport the moment they first attempt it. In reality, however, kids get cranky and are clumsy at first. Instead of allowing their passion to develop over time, you as a parent might be tempted to become frustrated and give up.
If this sounds like your family, don’t worry. Today, we want to help you learn how to teach kids to ski. By following these tips, tricks and advice, you’ll have the best chance of keeping everyone safe, happy and eager to hit the slopes again next time instead of walking away angry and frustrated.
Tips for How to Teach Skiing to Kids
Maybe your kid has been begging to try out skiing ever since they could talk, or perhaps they’re a bit reluctant, and you’re trying to encourage them to expand their horizons with this new activity. Whichever situation you’re in, here are some of our top tips for teaching kids to ski.
1. Wait Until They're Old Enough
Most ski instructors and training centers will offer classes for children as young as ages 3 and 4, as this is around the time their bodies and brains have developed enough to take on the challenges of basic skiing lessons. Remember, however, that every child matures at a different pace. Some little kids may be ready to start skiing at age 3, whereas others may not be ready for another two or three years.
2. Consider Enrolling Them in Kids' Ski Lessons
Think about what learning environment will suit your child. Maybe they would respond best to personal instruction from you, but it's often better to take lessons from a professional instructor. Going with structured lessons is fairly common, because most kids behave better around adults who aren’t their parents. They’re likely a little in awe of this new authority figure and more likely to mind their manners and follow instructions. With parents, on the other hand, they often know they can get away with more mischief, making them more likely to stop paying attention and ignore directions.
3. Don’t Push Too Hard When They’re Starting Out
New skiers, especially very young ones, can easily become frustrated by the end of a lesson. Compound this with the fact that your child will also likely be cold and both physically and mentally exhausted, and you have a recipe for a meltdown. If you begin to sense your child has had enough, don’t hesitate to step in and ask them if they’re ready to be done for the day. If you force them to stay on the hill past their limits, they may begin to resent the sport and dread their lessons. Letting them leave when they’re ready, on the other hand, leaves them eager to come back again next time.
4. Make Skiing Fun
Skiing may be a way of life for you, but your kid is just getting started. They’re likely going to be frustrated, cold, tired and maybe even grumpy after their first few tumbles. Don’t hound them about getting things right or set ultimatums. Instead, gently correct their technique to help them learn to do things the right way, but otherwise, let them have fun. Play games with them along the way. Pack a thermos of hot chocolate for a mid-training snack. Take a break for a snowball fight. By keeping things light and fun, you ensure you’re meeting your child at their appropriate developmental level.
5. Offer Plenty of Encouragement
Not every child will love to ski, but any child can quickly grow to hate it if you constantly berate them for incorrect technique or clumsy falls. One of the best ways to ensure your child enjoys their experience and wants to come back is to heap encouragement on them. The reality is that most kids won’t grow up to become Olympic champions, no matter how hard you might be on them. Instead, it’s far more imperative that they have fun and get some exercise and fresh air.
Never scold your child for their skiing or laugh at them for mistakes. Offer gentle correction when warranted, and heap words of praise on them when they do get something right. Even if they make a mistake and endanger themselves, never yell at them. The odds are good that the accident frightened them just as much as it did you. Instead, calmly explain what went wrong and offer advice on how to do things differently
6. Teach Them How to Get Up
The first thing you should teach your kids about skiing is how to get up. It is 100 percent certain they will fall over and over again, so the most important thing they’ll learn is how to safely get back to their feet. Since you’ve been skiing for years, it probably feels like second nature to you. But try to remember how difficult it is to struggle to your feet with skis on, and be patient with your kids while teaching them this crucial skill. You should only progress to actual movement once they’ve mastered this step.
7. Teach Them How to Stop and Start
Once they can get up after a fall and balance on their own, the next step is learning how to stop and start independently. It’s essential that they learn how to do this before taking on their first real hill, both for their safety and the safety of everyone else around. If your child is having a hard time learning to stop by forming the wedge shape with their skis, consider purchasing a bungee cord that attaches the tips of the skis, as that will help them create this shape. After a day or two, remove the bungee, and they should have an easier time doing this on their own.
8. Teach Them How to Turn
The first step is falling and getting up. Next, kids learning to ski must know how to stop and start. Once these are skills they can perform with confidence, they can start learning to turn on their own. A great training exercise is to head down a tiny hill, making large S-curves with your skis and having your child follow behind you, attempting to stay within your tracks. Once they get good at this, try making your turns smaller and smaller until you feel confident in their turning abilities.
9. It’s OK to Use a Harness — Sometimes
Some parents will use a particular type of harness known as a ski leash which hooks you to your child so the two of you can ski together, and you can more easily help your child maintain their balance. This device is acceptable in certain situations, such as when a child is just beginning to go down tiny slopes.
However, it quickly becomes a problem on larger hills where children may go careening out of control, thrown off balance by the parent, and both end up falling in a heap and even potentially injuring one another. In addition to this, ski leashes can quickly become crutches for kids, who may learn bad habits and incorrect skiing techniques you'll have to break once they’re out of the harness. Because of this, you’ll want to think carefully about whether or not it’s worth using one with your child.
How to Prepare Your Child for the First Day on the Snow
One of the best ways to set your child up for success on the slopes is to put in the right preparation ahead of time. Remember, the single most important way you can prepare your kids for learning how to ski is to make sure they’re old enough in the first place. Your child may have passed their third birthday, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily ready. Wait until you think your child has the physical coordination as well as the mental discipline to begin before allowing them to do so, and you’ll have a much higher chance of success.
Here are our additional tips for preparing for your kid’s first ski lessons.
1. Get Your Child Excited About Skiing
You want your child to be jumping-up-and-down excited to get out there and strap on a pair of skis. Show them videos of professional skiers, or let them watch while you go down the hill in the backyard. Dress up in your ski gear together and take pictures. All these things may help ignite that excitement inside them.
If they’re feeling nervous about skiing around other kids, remind them that everyone falls and makes mistakes at first, and that the other kids are nervous too. If they’re still feeling scared, let them know it’s OK if they want to wait till next year. The most important thing is that they’re comfortable.
2. Decide Whether to Rent or Buy
Some kids may try out a few ski lessons and decide they don’t enjoy it, in which case you wouldn’t want to get stuck with a lot of child-sized equipment they'll never use again. Until your child has decided they truly love skiing, it may be best to stay with rentals. Once your kid does embrace skiing, however, don’t be afraid to make the investment and go all in on equipment, winter-weather gear and more to help them have the best and safest skiing experience possible.
3. Try One-on-One Lessons Before a Group Class
When kids are first starting, they’ll often have the best results if they receive one-on-one attention as they navigate the crucial skills of balancing, starting and stopping. Once they’ve mastered these, they should have no problem in a group class for beginners. For these first few sessions, however, consider signing your child up for one-on-one lessons or teaching them yourself.
4. Dress Your Child for the Cold
Learning to ski is hard enough without having cold fingers and toes on top of everything else. Dress your child appropriately for the weather by adding a moisture-wicking underlayer beneath mid- and top-layers to keep them warm and dry. Don’t forget necessities like correctly fitting boots, socks, gloves and neck warmers to protect their extremities as well, and make sure there are no gaps at the wrists or neck for any snow to slip under the coat.
Ski Gear Kids Need to Learn How to Ski
When teaching kids to snow ski, it’s essential that they have all the equipment they’ll need to succeed. This list is not exhaustive, but it should provide an overview of some of the most critical pieces of equipment you’ll need to teach a child to ski.
- Helmets: Safety should always come first when learning to ski. Protect your child’s head with a kid-sized snow helmet that’s just right for them.
- Skis: It’s hard to learn to ski without the skis themselves. Make sure you equip kids with child-sized skis that are appropriate for their small stature, as adult skis will be too large for them.
- Bindings: Don’t forget to grab a pair of ski bindings for kids, since your adult bindings will be far too large for kids’ small feet.
- Boots: The right pair of kid’s ski boots will not only fit into the ski bindings, but also help keep your child’s toes warm and cozy out on the slopes.
- Poles: Once you have a solid pair of kid’s skis, don’t forget to pair these with a matching set of kid’s ski poles.
- Teaching tools: There are a variety of teaching tools to help ease kids into those first few lessons. From harnesses to bungee cords, be sure to check out all the helpful ski teaching tools you can take advantage of.
Shop Kids' Ski Products From Buckman’s Today
Just beginning to figure out how to teach a child to ski? It all starts with having the right gear and accessories. From having the equipment like skis, bindings and poles to keeping your child bundled in coats, underlayers and mittens, the best way to ensure your success is to be prepared. And the best way to be prepared is to shop for these skiing essentials and more at Buckman’s Ski and Snowboard Shops.
Here at Buckman’s, we’re proud to support winter sports enthusiasts on every step of their journey, from their first time out on the slopes all the way to the day when they finally can take their little ones skiing. Whether you’re looking for gear, sports accessories and cold-weather clothing for adults or kids, you can find it all at Buckman’s. Shop our ski equipment today to get started teaching the next generation of skiers.
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