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Beginners Age 4 & 6 - Which Lessons?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Neither of my children have ever seen snow, but they are VERY excited.  Before kids, my wife and I would take a couple of ski trips per year. I am trying to decide on lessons, which class and for how many days? The kids (ages 4 and 6) will be within a few weeks of their birthdays.

 

At the moment I am leaning towards either two days of the beginner group lessons or 1 day of private lessons.

 

Thoughts?

post #2 of 24

Welcome to Epic!

 

I think a lot of it depends on where you are going and whether you want to do some skiing on your own/with your wife or participate in the learning process together.  Are the kids going to be almost 5/7 or just turned 4/6?  Do they typically like being with groups of kids or do they seem to prefer playing with themselves?  Does the younger one typically try to keep up with their older sibling?

 

Family Privates are one of our fastest growing lesson products at Vail, but with never-evers, this will severely limit the terrain that can be skied. 

 

If possible, I would recommend trying to get them comfortable with the equipment, particularly boots, ahead of time.  If renting, this could be late afternoon before your first ski day.

 

Good luck and enjoy!

post #3 of 24

Welcome to EpicSki!  How long has it been since you were skiing?  I was very happy that my daughter had a good time during her first day at ski school as a four year old.  My husband is a non-skier.  Now I have a tween as a ski buddy.

 

If you don't mind me asking, how long is the ski trip?  A full day private would be pretty long for young never-evers.

 

The full day ski school my daughter did at Massanutten was actually 3 lessons, with a mid-morning snack and lunch in between.  She was done at 2:30.  At 4 or 5, she usually was good for one more run after a snack.  At 6, she was good for another hour or two of skiing depending on the weather.  The Massanutten never-ever class has a maximum of 4 kids.  They are in the ski school area in the morning, including using the magic carpet,  Her group was on the chairlift after lunch.  I was pretty amazed at what her instructor accomplished that first day.  The next day we did a little free skiing.  The third day she did ski school again, moving up to the next level.

post #4 of 24

Unless you're rich, I'd opt away from the private.  Not that they aren't valuable, it's just that young kids need to learn things over a longer period of time with lots of reinforcement.  It's also generally accepted that most kids learn better in a social environment.  I'm not totally convinced this is the case with every kid, though.  Anyway, most indicators point toward multiple days of kiddie ski school.  Make sure you find a place that will mix skiing with play for the 4-year-old, and provide snacks and lunch for everyone.  You can decide between half and full day, but I've found the price of half days can be almost as much as full days.  Full days are nice if mom and dad want to get some real skiing in.  It takes a lot of effort to make a great kids' ski experience.  This is why many smaller ski areas don't do as well as some larger ones.

post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 

Little more info based upon the previous responses.

 

Both will be within a few weeks of turning 5 & 7 (they are almost exactly 2 years apart).  My wife and I ski & snowboard yearly, this is the first trip with children.  We are bringing my mom along to assist, shes going to do some snowshoe tours and other things as she does not ski. 

 

This year due to a number of factors outside our control we are gong to Beaver Creek, (sister in laws bachelorette party in Avon). We skied in Beaver Creek years ago on a trip to Breck, but have never stayed in Avon.

 

We have been to the local ski shop a couple of times to get clothes etc.  Each trip includes trying on all the equipment, walking around the store in ski boots etc.

 

The trip is 7 days, 6 nights with 5 days of lift tickets.  So I would like to get the girls off to a good start and then ski with them.  If they get tired I can drop them off with my mom in the village.

 

The 4 year old keeps up with our 6 year old for the most part, they both  play a number of sports and are fairly coordinated.  Soccer, Swim Team, Golf, Gymnastics.

post #6 of 24

Here is a link to the BC ski school http://www.beavercreek.com/ski-and-snowboard-school/childrens-ski-and-snowboard-school/childrens-lessons.aspx 

 

I think they offer all the same products that we do at Vail, but their pricing is a bit higher due to a tax the town imposes.  The lift ticket should be free for your 4 y.o. while your 6 y.o.'s can be purchased as part of a group lesson.  

 

If the choice is between 2 full day group lessons or 1 all day private, I think I would go for the 2 day option.  Unless it is over one of the holidays or spring break, chance are you could book 1 day ahead of time and see how the first day goes...this gives you the option of scheduling a family private if the kids like their instructor and you or your wife wants to see first hand what the kids are working on (and/or get some pointers to take your riding to the next level).  Private lessons at Vail/BC are the same price for up to 6 family members/friends and everyone is entitled to a number of VIP benefits including complimentary coffee, hot chocolate, muffins, ski storage, boot fitting evaluation and demo ski testing.

 

It may be a bit much for the first week, but Jack Rabbit Alley is always a favorite among kids- it is located in the trees between some green runs off the Drink of Water lift.  It is low angle and was marked as a green when I first starting taking it with my daughter but now is more correctly marked as a blue as there are trees and other obstacles to avoid.   

 

Being that you are up for a week, I would recommend coming over to Vail for at least a day as it is only 7 miles East of Avon and included in the same lift ticket. 

post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 

Yes, going to take the rental or shuttle over to Vail for a day. We are going the last week of January (overlaps into February).  Thanks for the feedback.

post #8 of 24

You have lucky little girls.  Grandma and skiing . . . great combination.  Have fun!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sardaan View Post

Little more info based upon the previous responses.

 

Both will be within a few weeks of turning 5 & 7 (they are almost exactly 2 years apart).  My wife and I ski & snowboard yearly, this is the first trip with children.  We are bringing my mom along to assist, shes going to do some snowshoe tours and other things as she does not ski. 

 

. . .

 

The trip is 7 days, 6 nights with 5 days of lift tickets.  So I would like to get the girls off to a good start and then ski with them.  If they get tired I can drop them off with my mom in the village.

 

The 4 year old keeps up with our 6 year old for the most part, they both  play a number of sports and are fairly coordinated.  Soccer, Swim Team, Golf, Gymnastics.

post #9 of 24

Happened to run across this EpicSki article with tips about younger kids.

 

http://www.epicski.com/a/money-and-time-saving-tips-for-parents-of-young-skiers

post #10 of 24

My advice would be to start with a 2 hr. private on the first day and see where that goes. I'd be aiming to have them do full day group lessons the other days. That first private lesson will give you a pretty good idea of how that is going to go.

post #11 of 24
Kids learn as much or more from the other kids in a group lesson as they get from the instructor, especially the younger one. If you're only having two days of lessons for the week, go with the group program.
post #12 of 24

Depends on your expectations, I'd agree on the group lesson simply if the desire is for basic turns.  Much is really just them getting used to equip and having fun.  Two days group class is not really much time from my wife's and my experience with our kids (or friends), they might be able to do easy bunny hill stuff.  I'ld say from say 4-5 days before they're on a easy green but really not much greater.  I would say a private should up their skill quickly, only that from my experience a day or two of group lessons will provide the best bang for buck.

 

To be honest, while we put our kids into ski school to learn proper skills, we also used it to give ourselves our own free time on the slopes.

 

nice thing is Beaver Creek is supposed to have a very good school.

post #13 of 24

I just started my boys this past week -- they are 4 and 6. I took them twice last week and put them in a 2-hour afternoon lesson. They really enjoyed skiing for those two hours but then they were done and just wanted to play in the snow. This happened both days. I think if we took them for a morning lesson and then took a long lunch break in the lodge they would probably be willing to go out again and ski a little in the afternoon, but a full day would definitely not be in the cards yet. My oldest definitely is picking up the skills faster -- I assume just because he is bigger, stronger and more coordinated due to the age difference (my youngest is actually more assertive). The first lesson they could do together but their second lesson worked better with them in separate lessons since the oldest was picking it up faster. I'm sure it is different with different kids, but I know with ours that expecting them to ski for a whole day at these beginning stages would be too much.

post #14 of 24
I haven't looked at what the ski schools have to offer where you are going, but in general, for whichever course of action you pick, make sure to pay attention to the age groups. Where I work, 6 y/o can do group lessons but a 4 y/o cannot...unless it is in our Radicals Program. Radicals is for younger kids only and is a cross between ski/ride lessons, on snow playing, and day care. You can do half or whole days and the only guarantees are safety and fun. Kids may spend as much time playing outside in the snow as learning to ski because it is designed to follow ther tolerance. The kids are encourage to participate in lessons and the folks with them are ski/board instructors. It has been a huge success for the mountain.

Programs like that are designed to handle kids that have different tolerances for learning, weather, abilities etc.

Also make sure your children have the right expectations. If one wants to snowboard like mom or dad, they might not be able to based on their age. I think most start board lessons at six, not positive though.

Have fun,

Ken
post #15 of 24

Good advice from all . . . keep it coming.  I imagine the OP is not the only one taking younger kids on their first ski vacation this season.  In this case the parents both ski and snowboard . . . and are bringing along a non-skiing grandparent who is happy to babysit.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sardaan View Post

Little more info based upon the previous responses.

 

Both will be within a few weeks of turning 5 & 7 (they are almost exactly 2 years apart).  My wife and I ski & snowboard yearly, this is the first trip with children.  We are bringing my mom along to assist, shes going to do some snowshoe tours and other things as she does not ski. 

 

This year due to a number of factors outside our control we are gong to Beaver Creek, (sister in laws bachelorette party in Avon). We skied in Beaver Creek years ago on a trip to Breck, but have never stayed in Avon.

 

We have been to the local ski shop a couple of times to get clothes etc.  Each trip includes trying on all the equipment, walking around the store in ski boots etc.

 

The trip is 7 days, 6 nights with 5 days of lift tickets.  So I would like to get the girls off to a good start and then ski with them.  If they get tired I can drop them off with my mom in the village.

 

The 4 year old keeps up with our 6 year old for the most part, they both  play a number of sports and are fairly coordinated.  Soccer, Swim Team, Golf, Gymnastics.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sardaan View Post

Neither of my children have ever seen snow, but they are VERY excited.  Before kids, my wife and I would take a couple of ski trips per year. I am trying to decide on lessons, which class and for how many days? The kids (ages 4 and 6) will be within a few weeks of their birthdays.

 

At the moment I am leaning towards either two days of the beginner group lessons or 1 day of private lessons.

 

Thoughts?

post #16 of 24

I started my son skiing at age 3/4 and it went very well. Key thing I quickly realized is it is about having fun for them. They don't want to learn for learnings sake, it has to be part of a game or activity.  I let him chase me down the bunny slope with he being on skis and I was running down the "barely" slope in street boots. It was a game of catch Dad. After he was acclimated, went to Sugarloaf for the weekend and he saw a group of kids being towed on a wooden tobogan that looked like a bunny and he wanted in. The group daycare/lesson would have been  the right way to go for him, age 4. I did a private 2 hr lesson for him that was pretty much a waste of time, he didn't really want to be "taught" anything at his age, he would just do things if it was part of a game. Most fond memory was he fell asleep on the chair lift around 11 AM, nap time, and I had to pick him up, carry him off the chair and ski/carry him down the bunny slope and find a good nap spot. We had the most fun exploring the lodge complex and walking around outdoors.

 

So for your younger chiled, group day care/lesson class. The older girl could handle lessons and I would still suggest group ones. By the end of the week you may want to consider a family lesson if the interest is there. Usually kids take to something they experience and that makes the choices self evident.

post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post

Kids learn as much or more from the other kids in a group lesson as they get from the instructor, especially the younger one. If you're only having two days of lessons for the week, go with the group program.

My kids starter younger than 4 & 6, and in a few years started receiving what was effectively "private" lessons where there were no other kids in their age group at their level (their friends caught up soon enough).  They told me group lessons could be more fun since they are skiing and eating pizza and drinking hot chocolate with other kids.  The advantage of a group lesson to you (with new skiers) is the cost and that your kids wil see that the other children will not be crying when mom and dad drop them off.  In other words, they think they are going to school with other kids like they do back home, only this is a special ski school.   The key IMHO is time on the snow, like Kneale suggests above.  Also, don't even think of starting them in terrible weather.  The schools will give them enough warm-up breaks when it is cold, but a blizzard could freak out the little ones.  Give them an environment where they want to come back for more.  When the instructor says your 7 or 8 year-old (or at whatever age) can now ski any black diamond on the mountain, the value of a private lesson comes into play.  At that point your kids may tire out faster than the older kids in a group class, or another kid may slow the entire class down, or the school is caught in a rut of teaching certain things in groups when it is time for your kid to learn something else, etc. 

 

Don't forget to tip a good instructor. 

post #18 of 24

When they were first starting out I always opted for the group ski school with my two kids, now age 8 and 6.  I feel like they benefit from being with other kids and from the breaks, snack, and play time that is built into the ski school program.

 

Last year my son who is 8 took his first non ski school lesson and had a great time.  It was actually a group lesson, but he was by himself and got a private.  The individual lesson was definitely less "funtime", but he's now older and doesn't mind the focus on ski instruction vs. play.

 

Check and see if the ski school has a half day program that you could utilize on the first day.  I don't think I'd put my kids in a two hour private lesson as never ever skiers as it might be too much instruction vs having fun.

 

Good luck,
Mike

 

P.S. If you are somewhere where it snows at home, and they have their own ski gear, get them out in the yard playing with their stuff before you take a trip.  That way they'll be familiar with putting their skis on and taking them off in snow, and with how to walk around in ski boots.

post #19 of 24

Doing anything on snow before the first day at ski school wasn't an option for me since we live in NC.  The only time my daughter wasn't happy at ski school at Massanutten was during the first lesson.  She was 4.  Her never-ever group included four little girls ages 4-6 (Mnut limits never-ever classes to 4).  All they did before morning snack was directed games on the snow in their ski boots.  I was called to come chat with her.  She was ready to quit but I didn't let her.  Turned out part of the problem was that she was hot since I overdressed her a bit.  The next lesson the girls put skis on and got to use the magic carpet and go sliding.  It was fun to watch from a distance.  After lunch the instructor was taking the girls up the beginner chair lift.  When I picked her up at 2:30 . . . what I heard was "I LOVE SKIING!"  biggrin.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeC View Post
. . .

P.S. If you are somewhere where it snows at home, and they have their own ski gear, get them out in the yard playing with their stuff before you take a trip.  That way they'll be familiar with putting their skis on and taking them off in snow, and with how to walk around in ski boots.

post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeC View Post

When they were first starting out I always opted for the group ski school with my two kids, now age 8 and 6.  I feel like they benefit from being with other kids and from the breaks, snack, and play time that is built into the ski school program.

 

Last year my son who is 8 took his first non ski school lesson and had a great time.  It was actually a group lesson, but he was by himself and got a private.  The individual lesson was definitely less "funtime", but he's now older and doesn't mind the focus on ski instruction vs. play.

 

Check and see if the ski school has a half day program that you could utilize on the first day.  I don't think I'd put my kids in a two hour private lesson as never ever skiers as it might be too much instruction vs having fun.

 

Good luck,
Mike

 

P.S. If you are somewhere where it snows at home, and they have their own ski gear, get them out in the yard playing with their stuff before you take a trip.  That way they'll be familiar with putting their skis on and taking them off in snow, and with how to walk around in ski boots.

 

I would tend to agree.  Our kids, at a younger age, tended to pick up more in a group setting.  Also they would "stick it out" more if the parents were not around (we did make sure they were not tired, hungry, cold, etc, and were enjoying it ..). 

post #21 of 24

Both of my kids started at age 4-5. The most important thing for them is to have fun on the skis. Physical strength and ability to stay outside when it is cold are the most challenging parts for the fist timers. They will need a lot of attention from the instructor so the 2h private lesson is not a bad idea.

 

Pay attention to clothing - bundling kids too much will disable their ability to enjoy the lesson ( Had to battle with my share of "I'm not comfortable" with the youngest...:O)

 

They will get tired fast from staying in the snow-plow stance for too long so if the instructor is good he will make sure the kids will get some rests etc... Taking kids to cool places is also one of the best methods - small terrain features improve interest and willingness to stay outside.

 

Enjoy, take time to make some snow angels and throw some soft snow balls at them, nothing is better than hitting your dad with the pile of snow :)

 

Vlad

post #22 of 24

Lots of good experienced advice.

 

in terms of BC group lessons, i noted they have the pricier Ultimate 4 in a group and lower priced standard class.  my opinion is mine did fine (at Steamboat) in regular class.  BC has a FAQ section and it sounds much as others, morning class, lunch, afternoon class and adjust to younger kids with time indoors to relax or have fun and games.  I suspect you looked into this.  I've found too to simply call ahead and ask any questions, the schools I'm aware of are all too happy to talk to you, make you comfortable

 

http://www.beavercreek.com/faqdetail/Ski-and-Snowboard-School-Lessons/What-does-a-ski-school-day-consist-of-Are-meals-included-Can-I-meet-my-friendsfamily-for-lunch-during-ski-and-snowboard-lessons.axd

 

My kids all started at 4 yrs old, skied classes every yr and our first was relegated to 5 day (week long) classes her first 3 yrs,  others we backed off on and let em ski more with their sibling(s) and us.  

 

overall I don't thing you'd go wrong either private or group, but as others noted I agree that if your kids are social, they tend to make friends and learn that a big part of skiing is doing so with friends ... Of course, our eldest was one smart girl in making friends with a family who remembered (10 yrs ago) that Colorado still had blue laws .. her friends family invited us over on a Sunday after the school day when they pointed out our trip to pick up wine couldn't happen.   (Colorado is no longer blue)

 

One thing to make the kids excited on class in having them pick up something for their gear just for the occasion.   We'd pick up something like new socks, base gear, stickers or when moved up on the slopes, run pins ... something for them to anticipate or be rewarded ... even the promise of hot chocolate after the day was a simple reward they looked forward to.

 

have fun!  The schools we've worked with were all great, and on the one occasion where our middle child stagnated over 2 days of classes .. well, we simply talked to the school lead and he ended up taking it upon himself to give a 2 hr private and then shocked us and tossed in a full day private at a group rate.   They really take teaching to heart, and like other teachers, it often not the money they receive ... so do tip if they do well!  

post #23 of 24

I started my daughter just before she turned 3.  We were out about 20 times that year and she loved it.  Some days she only made one run down the bunny hill before she wanted to play in the snow and eat french fries.  Other days I had to drag her off the mountain at closing time.  This required some major adjusting to how I set my goals for a day on the mountain.  It's no longer about powder turns.  It's about keeping it safe and fun, and if possible, there may be a little learning.  

 

There are definite benefits to teaching kids in group settings.  When the other kids are sticking it out and having fun, they may be less likely to bail out.  I have found private lessons to also work well if the instructor is good with kids.  I found my daughter to be much more receptive to instruction from other people than she was to me.   I also found parent-child lessons helpful, in order to learn how to ski safely with little kids.  That way, you can keep them safe when when you are out alone with them.  

 

Also, make sure you bring a pack with layers for them so you can keep them comfortable.  And bring lots of snacks and drinks.  If they get hot, sweaty, cold, hungry, or thirsty, they will probably quit.  And another thing, you may want to get a good ski pack that you can use to carry their skis, helmets, boots, etc.  Sometimes it's just easier to carry all their gear, and maybe even the kids too.  So, if you don't really get to ski, at least you will get a good workout.  It's a lot of work, but it's all worth it when you see how much fun they are having.  

post #24 of 24

Came across a thread from way back . . . 2003 . . . that has good suggestions from instructors about how parents can help little ones get a great start on skis.  In this case, thread was started by a father in the southeast with a 4yo daughter and a 7yo son at the time.  It was not their first year having fun on the snow.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/8416/teaching-children-to-ski

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