Advice for Getting Little Kids Skiing Early By Dusti Reimer, mom of three kids ages six and under
I grew up in Iowa and didn’t learn the proper way to snowboard. It’s not Iowa’s fault. There were plenty of certified instructors where I had my first experience snowboarding. I was 18 years old. I skipped school with my guy friends to go learn the art of snowboarding at Sundown Mountain. My introduction to it was a loaner board, and a friend telling me to weave like a leaf. He then left me alone, on the bunny slope, to figure it out for myself like just like he had.
Needless to say, I couldn’t have been sorer from falling for four straight hours. But, I still loved it! I thought that I was still cool.
That love and desire never resulted in me taking lessons, but just continually trying to get better from friends and watching other people. I’m still not great, but I really do enjoy snowboarding. (I do have plans to do the Powderhorn Learn to Ski program next year, and take three full-day lessons!)
I have smaller children now. One of the things I always promised was that they would learn the proper way to ski and snowboard, and by proper I mean I would pay an instructor to teach them.
I learned a lot with my oldest child. He was kind of my test kid. He has amazing athletic ability and so at the ripe old age of four, I decided to put him in a full-day lesson.
HUGE mistake. There is a reason most resorts do not offer full-day group lessons for four year olds, most start at ages five and up. If you think it’s an inconvenience and part of some scheme for them to make a lot of money on private lessons you’d be wrong. Here’s why:
My son wasn’t ready to be thrown into a full-day lesson. He was four. He was exhausted. I should have remembered my first day. I was exhausted. I was sore. I was cold. He was the same, times ten.
His instructor at Powderhorn was simply amazing, but at the end of the second half of the day, my son was crying and whining so bad that I thought I might have scarred him for life. He told me he never wanted to do it again. Parenting fail.
The only bonus from that first day, I thought, was that he slept all the way home.
Two days later, he asked excitedly when he was going skiing again. I was elated-he didn’t hate it after all!
He’s taken all his lessons at Powderhorn and has formed some great relationships and memories to skiing. He can tell you which of his instructors are his “best friends.”
We just needed to remember that maybe a full-day of skiing for a four year old is a lot more intense than we thought, or remember.
Now he’s six and he loves to ski. The moment it starts to snow he wants to know when we’re going skiing at Powderhorn. My 4 year old daughter does, too!
Here are some helpful tips for parents of young children first starting out:
#1. Make sure they’re ready and interested. Don’t just take them because you want them to learn, give them a chance to see what people are doing and ease them into it. Chances are if you do it, they will want to too!
#2. If they are ages three to five, consider starting with a one hour private lesson. After learning from my son’s experience, we took it slow with my daughter. She did one hour private lessons when she was three, because she was interested. One hour was perfect for her little legs. She eased into the sport of skiing and built up the stamina in her legs and confidence in herself. Within the year, she quickly grew to doing two hour lessons, and now we are up to doing a full-day. She loves the idea she’ll be skiing with big brother any day now. The other bonus is if you find that one hour isn’t enough, Powderhorn can easily do an upgrade lesson, which will save you money.
#3. Keep it fun. Keep it simple. Don’t push them too hard. They’re still little. They still need naps and snacks. If you’re planning on hitting the slopes for an all-day ski event with your first time three or four year old, chances are you’re both going to end up frustrated.
#4. Hire a professional. I know that not having the correct technique and understanding of skiing that I’m not the one who should be teaching my children. (I also won’t be teaching them snowboarding either.) I know that the ski instructors at Powderhorn are amazing. They are equipped to teach children at their level. That’s why my children have advanced as quickly as they have. Great teachers! You can ask at the Ski and Ride Center for someone who might be a great fit for your child’s personality. I never thought gummy bears and train whistles could be so much fun, but according to my children, they are the best. Plus, at the end of the lesson, your child gets to walk away with a glorious report card from ski school. My kids were so proud to show me their report cards and wouldn’t leave until one had been filled out.
Remember, it takes a few lessons to get the hang of things. Skiing and snowboarding are lifetime sports, so whether you start your children off at age three, or age 18, you’re sure to find a family friendly sport you’ll enjoy together for generations.