It’s the dream of every ski enthusiastic parent to see his or her child skiing down the slopes with a big smile on its face. Yes, it’s true, kids learn to ski much faster than adults but when exactly is the right time for them to start skiing?
Choosing the right moment to introduce your kids to skiing is crucial to whether they will start loving to ski or not. The first skiing experience will make or break your kids’ love for this sport.
We’d like to help your kids learn to ski while having the time of their lives on the slopes. That’s why the team of CheckYeti has collected the 6 most useful tips on how kids learn to ski and what parents can do to support their youngsters.
- At what age should my kids learn to ski?
- Which ski resort should I choose?
- Should I be the one teaching my kids to ski?
- Group lessons or a private ski instructor – what’s best?
- How long does it take my kids to learn to ski?
- What should I keep in mind with the ski equipment?
At what age should my kids learn to ski?
It’s true: The sooner your kids learn to ski the better. Nevertheless, at what age your kids should start skiing depends on their motivation, eagerness and physical abilities. Some toddlers just can’t wait to ski like mum and dad while other kids start showing an interest in skiing 1 or 2 years later. You should definitely consider your children’s personality (shy or fearless) and physical abilities (insecure steps or good in keeping balance) before deciding to finally introduce them to skiing.
Our rule of thumb: Most kids are ready to start skiing at the age of 4 years. Usually, kids that age are able to keep their balance and shift their weight from one leg to the other – ideal for the first turns on the training areas. Snowboarding, on the other hand, requires different movements. Those movements might still be too difficult for kids that young. We recommend to start snowboarding from 8 years onwards.
CheckYeti Tip: Not sure if your kids will like skiing? Let them join a ski kindergarten first. This way your children will get used to the ski gear while having a lot of fun playing around in the snow with the other kids. The Mini Club in Zell am See for instance welcomes kids between 3 and 4 years. Start with 1 day and if your kids enjoy the first day, let them join for a couple of days more. Next thing you know, your kids will want to conquer the slopes.
Which ski resort should I choose?
Some ski resorts are more beginner- or family-friendly than others. Ideally, choose a ski resort offering different training areas and easy slopes in order to help your kids learn to ski. Keep in mind that the training areas should be easily reachable, e.g. they should either be in the valley or close to a ski lift station. This way your kids won’t get tired before even strapping on their skis.
Kids learn to ski almost effortlessly when you keep them entertained while teaching them the basic skiing techniques such as the snow plough, left and right turns. Hence, you should look out for a Kinderland because this is the place where all the fun happens. Colourful figures, magic carpets, different obstacles and ski carousels are waiting to be conquered by your kids. In a Kinderland, learning to ski is an adventure and your kids will experience how time magically flies by when they’re having fun.
CheckYeti Tip: Make sure your kids learn to ski with the help of a professional, such as Wolli the adventurous sheep and his friend Snowli the clever bunny. Both well-beloved ski school mascots live in Zermatt and are more than happy to help your kids to master the obstacles in the Kinderland with flying colours.
Should I be the one teaching my kids to ski?
Most ski enthusiastic parents can’t wait to teach their kids how to ski but teaching your kids yourself is only recommendable under 2 circumstances: you are an excellent skier and you have the skills and the patience to teach your kids something new.
What parents often forget is that the main goal of a kid’s first time on skis is to have fun in the snow and to get used to the ski gear. As long as it’s fun your kids will gladly learn and practice the basics of skiing. Unfortunately, not everyone can teach kids how to ski in a playful, patient and understanding way. It is not uncommon for both children and parents to get frustrated and stressed after a few less successful moves on skis. Professional ski instructors, on the other hand, are trained to meet your children’s needs. They know exactly when it’s time for a break from practising, a motivational game to keep the kids’ spirit up or a helping hand to improve the skiing technique.
CheckYeti Tip: Save the last day of your holidays for skiing together with your kids. After a fun week in a ski school, most kids are able to tackle the blue slopes of the ski resort. Your kids will proudly show you their turns.
Group lessons or a private ski instructor – what’s best?
Whether you should choose group lessons or a private ski instructor to help your kids learn to ski should first and foremost depend on your kids’ needs. Are your kids complete beginners? Are they happy to mingle with other kids or do they usually need a bit more time to adapt to a new situation? Especially for small kids, we recommend trying out group ski lessons since they will have the most fun learning to ski together with other kids of their age. One thing’s for sure: It will never get boring in the group lessons.
When time is an issue you might want to consider getting a private ski instructor to help your kids learn to ski. For instance, if you’re planning a rather short ski trip it might be difficult to find a group lesson for your exact travel dates. Private ski instructors, however, have more flexible schedules. The starting time, the duration and the meeting place can be arranged individually. Moreover, the ski instructor can focus solely on the pace, the level and the needs of your children which means that they will improve their technique even faster.
CheckYeti Tip: Have you ever tried private family/group lessons? Ski schools in St Anton offer exclusive private lessons for families or groups (e.g. of friends). This way you have all the advantages of a private ski instructor and the fun of a group lesson.
How long does it take my kids to learn to ski?
Learning to ski takes time since kids learn to ski in different ways and at their very own pace. Our experience has shown that most kids feel quite safe on skis after 3 to 4 days of ski lessons (à 3h).
During their first ski lessons, your kids will get used to the ski equipment and will start practising the snow plough and basic turns as well as how to stop independently on flat terrain. As soon as your kids feel completely comfortable with the basics they can participate in intermediate lessons. The focus of those lessons is to start doing parallel turns and to be able to ski down blue and even some red slopes. Advanced lessons are meant for kids who already have some experience in skiing, mostly do parallel turns and who can easily tackle black slopes.
If you’re going on ski holidays only once a year it is recommendable to let your kids participate in a couple of ski lessons to brush-up their skiing skills.
CheckYeti Tip: Are you arriving in the middle of the week? Most beginners lessons for kids start on Sundays or Mondays. Some ski schools, however, do offer beginners lessons starting every day of the week, such as in the Swiss resort Villars.
What should I keep in mind with the ski equipment?
The standard ski equipment consists of a ski suit (jacket/trousers/gloves), skis, ski boots, ski sticks, a helmet and ski goggles. In order for your kids to enjoy their skiing lessons, you should make sure that both helmet and ski boots fit perfectly. Picking well-fitting ski boots will ensure that your kids’ first ski lessons won’t turn into a bad experience. The right helmet, of course, is important to keep your kids safe at all times.
When it comes to your kids’ ski clothing there are 2 aspects to consider. The clothing should be warm and water resistant. When kids learn to ski they spend a lot of time playing in the snow. You will want your kids to stay dry and warm during their ski lessons, so investing a bit more money on the clothing will be worth it.
CheckYeti Tip: Buying all the ski equipment for your kids can be quite expensive. If you’re not sure whether or not your kids will like skiing or if you are afraid that they will outgrow the equipment too fast, simply rent the equipment on arrival at your holiday destination. A very convenient way of renting the ski equipment for your kids is to book an “all-in-one” ski school offer. Many ski schools in Val Thorens, for instance, offer their beginners lessons for kids including ski hire (boots, skis, sticks, helmet).
My perfect day on the slopes: take the first lift up the mountain early in the morning, ski until I’ m starving, have a Germknödl for lunch and après-ski late in the afternoon 🙂