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Professional ski lessons vs parent lessons for my kid

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hello,

 

At my home mountain (Crystal Mountain), the only option for lessons is to go for the mountain-run professional ski school. The lessons are expensive ($55+lift ticket) and several times I've observed the instructors not doing the best job instructing the kids how to ski/get on the lift/get off the lift, etc. So, I'm not 100% convinced that professional lessons are the best options.

 

I am wondering - from other parents on here - what are the advantages or disadvantages of professional lessons versus parent run lessons?

I would like my child to become a great skier and don't want to be too cheap to pay for excellent lessons - as long as she'd actually get good lessons rather than expensive babysitting. I am patient and don't mind teaching her myself, and I don't need to drop here in an on-the-mountain program simply to give myself a few hours of my own skiing. I can use vacation/sick/flex days for that.

 

Appreciate your input.


(If you want to know my child's age, rest assured that she is too young for lessons this year. I'm planning ahead for a few years.)

post #2 of 25

My kids learned mostly at the Canyons in UT, and even under the previous ownership the kids learned in a very safe and supportive environment.  The advantage of lessons is the kids feel no pressure because they are with other kids their own age figuring the same stuff...and having fun (this includes pizza for lunch and lots of hot chocolate).  If the kids don't have fun, they will look for another sport.  The other advantage of giving the kids lots of lessons early on is when your kids get good they are likely to get what is effectively a "private" lesson since there will few or no others in their ability group.  

 

I have yet to find a ski area with modern lifts that won't slow down for the little guys.  Some areas put harnesses on the really little kids to help them on and off the lift, while others don't bother.  I actually liked doing those curls with the harness, which lasted until kindergarten or first grade (I cannot remember).

 

The big advantage of teaching the kids yourself is obviously the cost savings.  One advantage of teaching them yourself is that the standard teaching method misses some important things as they get better, and least in group lessons.  For example, one day I taught one of my sons (then 8 or 9) to do "hop" and "jump" turns on a steeper section of black diamond groomer. Soon afterward he was put in a group lesson with older kids and skied one of his first double diamonds.  Most of the kids fell and slid to the bottom off a pitch, but he handled it by jump turning and stopping over and over again until he felt it was safe to ski.  Another advantage is that kids want to be like mom and dad, and will copy you.  This is, of course, a disadvantage if you don't ski well.  My older son was carving early because he copied turns I was making, but I sure don't want him learning to ski moguls from me.

 

If you want your kids to be "great skiers," it is almost mandatory to put them in either all mountain or racing programs when they get older (they have to get on the Magic Carpet first).  I just want mine to ski the whole mountain safely.  Besides, the little guy really wants to fly (ski jumping).


Edited by quant2325 - 9/13/12 at 10:17am
post #3 of 25

As a former coach of 5-7 year olds and an aunt with a 3 yr. old niece, I can say it all depends. First, some kids listen really well to their parents and some kids don't. Some will do well with their parent and some won't. I've seen successes and failures from both situations. I do believe that seasonal programs tend to be better than regular ski school, but it all depends on the area. My niece learned to ski last winter at 3 (she is a late November birthday). She started in the ski school program for 3 year olds and really hated it. The lesson was boring and she went to preschool so didn't like the daycare part. Her parents started to take her out skiing on a harness and she loved it. She listens to instructions very well. The plan is for her to go into the seasonal program for 4 year olds with no day care, just skiing, this coming season. We will see what happens...

 

Good luck and enjoy this time.

post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Skier View Post

Hello,

 

At my home mountain (Crystal Mountain), the only option for lessons is to go for the mountain-run professional ski school. The lessons are expensive ($55+lift ticket) and several times I've observed the instructors not doing the best job instructing the kids how to ski/get on the lift/get off the lift, etc. So, I'm not 100% convinced that professional lessons are the best options.

 

I am wondering - from other parents on here - what are the advantages or disadvantages of professional lessons versus parent run lessons?

I would like my child to become a great skier and don't want to be too cheap to pay for excellent lessons - as long as she'd actually get good lessons rather than expensive babysitting. I am patient and don't mind teaching her myself, and I don't need to drop here in an on-the-mountain program simply to give myself a few hours of my own skiing. I can use vacation/sick/flex days for that.

 

Appreciate your input.


(If you want to know my child's age, rest assured that she is too young for lessons this year. I'm planning ahead for a few years.)

As others have said, it depends on the kid.  My daughter is an only child and very social, so ski school is the better option.

 

I went with all day (8:30-2:30) ski school when she was 4.  That way, if she didn't like it for whatever reason then I wouldn't be frustrated and she wouldn't be mad at me.  Luckily for me, she loved it once they got to the point of sliding on the snow.  She was on the beginner chairlift after lunch.  From then on, I mixed ski school with free skiing with me.  I would reinforce whatever the instructor taught but could also just do some runs "just for fun" where I didn't worry about how she was skiing.  Once she was old enough for the advance beginner/intermediate 90-min clinic, I would have her do that early season.  It often turned into a private lesson.

 

Note that for us, our ski hill is too far away to do a season long lesson plan.  She was only getting 5-10 days on snow a few weekends the first few years.  But it was enough for her to do well on Alta blue runs by age 8 . . . with the help of good ski school instructors.

post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 

Robin, can you explain the difference between the seasonal programs and the regular ski school? Are you saying regular ski school is single day lessons while seasonal programs are a series of 6 or 8 lessons?

post #6 of 25

My advice if you teach your own:

 

 Imagine you were teaching a neighbors kid, or a nephew or niece:

 

 You would still want to do a good job, but you might not be so harsh on them.

 You wouldn't worry about the money you spent; your kid certainly doesnt

 Breaks and fun would be part of it.

 

Think about getting them to love the whole experience:

 getting up early, packing their gear, walking in silly ski boots, etc.

 

If you get em to love that, you'll be in good shape.

 

 

For parent with really young kids, you _typically_ can still get a lesson, but ONLY a 1-1 lesson (ie more $$)

 

 

Alternatively,  carry em 10 feet up the slope, point em down.

then 15 ft, then 20ft, etc.  Probably easier w/o your skis on.

 

Fun and mileage are FAR more important than technique early on

 

When I teach young kids I seek out the parent afterwards and tell them

  a) what we worked on

  b) where their child is

  c) what they could do now

  d) what would be next

 

 

Once the child is gliding and has control on the appropriate slope, the hard part is

usually getting them to go left and right instead of straight down.

 

Anyone can go straight.  If yer not turning, yer not learning  <at least as a beginner>

 

Good luck

post #7 of 25

As a somewhat experienced former ski instructor and a parent of young kids I can tell you that 90% of the time it is better for the young kids to get their first few lessons from a resort instructor.. someone that appears to be in a position of authority and not of aunt, uncle, parent status.  They'll try harder and not raise as many unwarranted "I can't do it" objections.  They'll also focus more on the task at hand with someone they don't know quite so well.

 

That said, it's also perfectly OK to take the tots out for a couple between the legs runs down a carpet or easy green for fun with no expectations just to give them a taste of where they're headed when  learning to ski.  But, when it comes time to really get down to the business of learning to ski I recommend an instructor program for the first few lessons.

 

Another thing you can do with the little ones as a parent is get them some boots and skis so they can put them on and play with them in the yard-on grass, no snow required.  Learning to put them on, walk around, fall and get up, etc is half of the battle the first day and that part they can learn without even realizing they are learning it while playing in the yard. But, make them wear gloves so they don't cut themselves on the edges..

post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by docbrad66 View Post

Once the child is gliding and has control on the appropriate slope, the hard part is

usually getting them to go left and right instead of straight down.

 

Certainly remember following my daughter while encouraging her to "turn . . . turn . . . turn" in her first few seasons.  I knew my daughter was going to be a lifelong skier when she was straight lining the harder beginner slope (virtually empty and very short) with her older cousin and loving the speed, while unhesitatingly making turns as needed to avoid something or coming to a neat stop for getting back on the lift.  What made it even more fun for her was that it was her first time skiing under the lights. Fun is the most important element.   I think she was six.

post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Skier View Post

Robin, can you explain the difference between the seasonal programs and the regular ski school? Are you saying regular ski school is single day lessons while seasonal programs are a series of 6 or 8 lessons?

 

I taught for many years in a seasonal program. Once a week, 2 hours each day for 8 weeks. Kids progressed very well in that program. Same instructor, same peer group.

 

The overwhelming majority of skiers, including parents, have no clue what they should be teaching. Let alone how they should be teaching it.

 

The downside to children's lessons is that's where new instructors are put.

 

I'd recommend finding out if your mountain has any certified children's specialists...or if they'll take requests. Usually, they will only take requests for privates though.

post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Certainly remember following my daughter while encouraging her to "turn . . . turn . . . turn" in her first few seasons.  I knew my daughter was going to be a lifelong skier when she was straight lining the harder beginner slope (virtually empty and very short) with her older cousin and loving the speed, while unhesitatingly making turns as needed to avoid something or coming to a neat stop for getting back on the lift.  What made it even more fun for her was that it was her first time skiing under the lights. Fun is the most important element.   I think she was six.

 

Unfortunately, I've seen lots of parents teaching children by yelling "turn, turn" at them. It almost never works.

post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Skier View Post

Robin, can you explain the difference between the seasonal programs and the regular ski school? Are you saying regular ski school is single day lessons while seasonal programs are a series of 6 or 8 lessons?

 

 

MS, 

 

Yes, Crystal offers kids multi-week lessons. Here's a link for you:

 

http://www.crystalmountainresort.com/Lessons-and-Equipment/Multi-Week-Lessons

 

Note that kids 10 and under are charged $5 for a day ticket.

 

If you've seen something that seems less than professional while observing the ski school, please speak to the director, training director, or ski school manager. I'm sure they'd like you're input and would be happy to answer any and all questions you might have. The multi-week program has been very successful and is a great way to get your kids involved in instruction. If you are looking for private lessons, there are a couple of outstanding kids instructors that come to mind that would be well worth your money to hire for your kids.

 

For other area information, check here:

 

http://www.crystalmountainresort.com/

 

IMHO, unless a parent has a strong ski background including time coaching, instructing, or having been coached/instructed, it's a rare mom or dad that can properly provide the right combination of fun, movement analysis, appropriate exercises, knowledge of proper gear, etc... to optimize a kid's learning experience. IMHO, I think it's best to sign your kids up for the AM session of a multiweek lesson, then ski with them after lunch. The parents that get the most out of the program are in close contact with their kid's instructor so they can review and debrief as well as provide you with a little 'one point follow up' for your afternoon.


Edited by markojp - 9/13/12 at 3:56pm
post #12 of 25

Oh, and the lift loading for the ski school, I can tell you from experience that lift loading and lift safety for kids, especially the very small ones, is taken very very seriously by the ski school. It's emphasized heavily in morning meetings, particularly at the beginning of the season and the beginning of multi-week programs. There was an issue with loading the 6 pack at the bottom of the area, but this was largely due to the location of the ticket reader to the loading point. Last season, this was adjusted giving classes more room to manuever and stay together for loading without slowing down the lift line as well as helping ease traffic congestion at the bottom of the beginner chairlift. Again, if you've seen anything that you feel is/was inherently unsafe, please contact the ski school. I'm sure they'd appreciate your observations.

post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by iWill View Post

 

Unfortunately, I've seen lots of parents teaching children by yelling "turn, turn" at them. It almost never works.

I can understand where you are coming from . . . but in my case my daughter was the type who responded well to a reminder.  I was skiing close enough that there was little reason to yell.  Only needed to do this before she was about seven.  Now some boys that our friends have . . . that's another story.

 

One of the advantages of a tiny mountain is that I could often watch her ski class from the lift.  When she was younger, I could also trail the class without her noticing.  That was helpful to know how to encourage her when we skied together at other times.

 

The ski school at Massanutten puts a major emphasis on their children's program since many families who go there for a vacation have parents who either do not ski or are beginners themselves.  In recent years, they added conveyor loading on both lifts at the bottom of the mountain to make it easier for beginners and ski instructors.

post #14 of 25

Choose the option that will be the most fun for your child.  If they love skiing, they will get good at it.  If they hate it, they wont.  So alot depends on you, and your abilities.  But ultimatley nothing better then going having fun skiing with Dad.  Pick up a book on teaching kids, or ask a few questions here, to give yourself and your child a head start. 

post #15 of 25

I've seen a lot of kids crying skiing with their parents. I've never seen one crying in ski school. My son taught kids for a season. Next season he was on pro patrol at Squaw.  He says ski school is a much harder job. Spend the money.

post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post

I've seen a lot of kids crying skiing with their parents. I've never seen one crying in ski school. My son taught kids for a season. Next season he was on pro patrol at Squaw.  He says ski school is a much harder job. Spend the money.


That's true, but I did see my kid crying at the start of one with an instructor.  The instructor popped his eyes trying to help him put his goggles down!eek.gif

post #17 of 25
One of the most beneficial aspects of a children's ski school group is the kids learn a lot from eachother and work at it because "if she can do it, I can too!!!!" They may not believe an adult, but they'll get the same learning from another kid.

There's also a lot to be said for having the child learn to appreciate skiing as a family fun activity. If parents will play in the snow with young toddlers (and NOT insist on continuing when the kids don't want to), they'll instill the fun idea. Couples should take little ones up a slight grade with one parent towing and the other downhill catching. Plastic skis from the big box stores that let the kids use their own shoes and snow boots are fine for sharing between parents. Most kids get a big kick from the thrill of sliding down a really short slope into mom's or dad's arms.
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post

I've seen a lot of kids crying skiing with their parents. I've never seen one crying in ski school. My son taught kids for a season. Next season he was on pro patrol at Squaw. He says ski school is a much harder job. Spend the money.

I agree . The only time I've ever seen a child crying


in ski school was when he or she took a bad fall .
And I mean a bad fall!

My kids learned a lot more about skiing technique in ski school and just having fun on the slopes hanging with kids their own
age then I could have taught them . As they got older 12-13 , they wanted to spend more time with me and less in ski school ,
but by that time their ski ability was quite advanced . So by 12 or so they didn't go to the ski school they had been going to
since they were 3 .

My advice is to spend the extra money on ski school and as they get older and more advanced ,if they like skiing enough ,
they will let you know when its time to end the ski school instruction.
Edited by Jimmypowder - 9/13/12 at 7:08pm
post #19 of 25

Getting a child started with ski school is a great beginning for a youngster. We spend a great deal of time with instructors on how to pace a kids lesson.

There are a few things that you as a parent can do to help start your youngster on the right track.

 

Obviously the right clothing is a must. Get it early and dress them before the lesson and spend time outside sledding or just having fun. It will get them use to the bulkiness of the clothes and helmet. Practice putting everything on and taking it off. 

 

If you have equipment, make sure they know how to carry it, put it on and take it off.

 

Spend some time just walking around on the equipment. The sooner they can maneuver , the sooner they will be sliding and turning. In a group lesson they will assign groups based upon how the new skiers maneuver in the ski school area. If your child is already comfy with their skies on, they will usually get put in a group that will be skiing sooner.

 

Take a moment to talk to the instructor before the lesson and let them know what you have done to prepare them, and more importantly at the end of the lesson the instructor will let you know the progress and what you can work on together.

 

A blend of lessons and directed practice will ensure that they get a solid start to their skiing adventures.

post #20 of 25

I think everyone else has said what needs to be said on the subject, and I'm in agreement  I've had my daughters in ski and snowboard camps every season since they were 4 and 5 years old up until last winter when competitive basketball took over for my eldest (she still got in 30 days, just not in a camp).  I've witnessed some really lousy parent-child "teaching" that made me sad for the kids.  Just because an adult knows how to ski doesn't mean he or she knows how to teach his or her kid how to ski.  Given that your daughter is too young to ski now, you know ahead of time that how much it will cost and you have plenty of time to save up for pro lessons and camps. If it's as important to you as you say it is then I'm sure you can rearrange your budget over the next few years.

post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toecutter View Post

I think everyone else has said what needs to be said on the subject, and I'm in agreement  I've had my daughters in ski and snowboard camps every season since they were 4 and 5 years old up until last winter when competitive basketball took over for my eldest (she still got in 30 days, just not in a camp).  I've witnessed some really lousy parent-child "teaching" that made me sad for the kids.  Just because an adult knows how to ski doesn't mean he or she knows how to teach his or her kid how to ski.  Given that your daughter is too young to ski now, you know ahead of time that how much it will cost and you have plenty of time to save up for pro lessons and camps. If it's as important to you as you say it is then I'm sure you can rearrange your budget over the next few years.

 

I know some great instructors that teach better than they ski.  The kids love them and have a blast and all end up skiing/riding better.  Knowing a subject and being able to get someone else to know it are two different skill sets.  As has been stated, if they aren't having fun, especially when they first start out, pick a different activity.  Also be prepared for them to lose interest as Toecutter pointed out.  After years of skiing and dabbling in racing, my daughter found the guitar and loves that more (we had to make her stop playing for a while when she first started because her fingers were bleeding - literally).

 

I do know a couple parent/child teams that have done wonderfully.  In all cases the parents have some sort of coaching/instructing kids in their resume.  Some also do a little coaching but also have their kids in ski camp.  Mainly they are re-enforcing what the kids were taught in camp.

 

If you search around this site, there is a dad that posts videos of his son that he has been training. Jim something.  The kids is phenomenal but I'm betting the dad is too.  It's a rare find.  I also know kids that are parents of race coaches and senior instructors that don't ski as well as kids that aren't.

 

As kids get older, they tend to think their parents are idiots and find fault with much they are doing.  I wonder if Bode Miller is having this issue with his daughter biggrin.gif

post #22 of 25

Realistically, the OP will probably have to do it him/herself the 1st year.  He seems like the kind of parent who will start the kids early.  When I was in that postition none of my local mountains in MA nd VT would take 3 year olds.  So I taught them at 3 and turned them over to ski school at 4.  Ski School is better, by the way.

post #23 of 25

One interesting piece of pedagogy that I've noticed with a good pro instructor is that they know how to teach kids to perform certain skills without the kids knowing they're working on a skill.  They know how to make a game of it, so the kids just have fun but at the same time their bodies learn correct movements.  I can't think of an example with skiing right now, but with snowboarding the parent might say, "put your hands here, extend your hips, move your legs back, weight the toe side edge," all of which is met with confusion from the child.  On the other hand, an instructor might say, "Be a banana!"  The child then does what a child does, and her body learns the board control without consciously knowing it.  

 

Point of clarity: my daughter still enjoys skiing just as much and hasn't lost interest, but her basketball schedule was variable, with some games on Saturday and some games on Sunday.  Ski camp was always regular, on either Saturday or Sunday throughout the season. Since we couldn't do both without encountering frequent scheduling conflicts we let her decide what she wanted to do.  The social team sport aspect of basketball won out. Instead of ski camp she would go skiing on the open weekend day with my wife and me since it didn't have to occur on a schedule.  If I had forced her to pick skiing over basketball it would have been my choice, not hers, and she may have then felt like she was missing out on something else.  I think that would set the stage for resentment and disinterest in skiing. 

 

Up on the hill I see a lot of kids following their parents, looking miserable.  When dad screams, "Go faster!  Faster!  FASTER GRRRRR!!!!" you can tell that neither the dad nor the kid is having a good time.  It seems very counterproductive.

 

Edit: I thought of a ski coaching example.  Instead of telling the kids, "Keep your hands in front of you." the instructor says, "Everyone grab a big snowball!  Let's carry them down the hill!"  And how did I forget the classic, "Pizza!  French fries!" although I'm told they don't do that any more because it made the kids too hungry, LOL.

 

Also, when parents teach they want to get the most skiing for the money so they have a hard time taking breaks or going slow.  Instructors are there specifically to do a job, so breaking for hot chocolate and doing a coloring book isn't a big deal.


Edited by Toecutter - 9/24/12 at 9:57am
post #24 of 25

It depends on the parents and the ski school. We put our kids in ski school as much for babysitting as instruction. We'd ski ourselves out in the morning then ski with the kids in the afternoon. The kids definitely learned more from us. But they did have a couple of exceptional instructors that did more in a day than we did all season. Once the kids got good enough to ski KT with us, ski school ended and our kids developed into excellent skiers from parental instruction.

 

With that said, programs like Squaw kids are the absolute best! Those kids got the best coaches and the consistency of skiing with the same group all season. Those are the kids who developed into passionate and incredibly skilled skiers. I'm bummed we couldn't make that work for our kids (San Diego is just too far from Squaw...) but maybe I'm lucky we didn't have to chase the kids to junior activities all over the winter.

 

My kids ended up good enough that the best days are the days we challenge the mountain (powder, trees, chutes, bumps - everything!) as a family. Of course, they do ski a bit like me - bouncing down the hill with a bunch of tight little turns and no real edging. Maybe you shouldn't teach the kids yourself.

 

Eric

post #25 of 25

Typically with a seasonal program, the kids are with the same kids/same coach each time they go out so there is continuity.
 

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