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Tips for a first time 4 year old...and dad

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I am taking my daughter out for the first time this weekend.  I have read MANY posts about what to do/what not to do for a first time.  I guess I really don't care how much she learns, I just want to avoid meltdowns and for her to have fun - with the thought she'd like come come back again.


That said, I will have to get rentals for her as I want to hold off on buying her anything until I get the feeling this is something she might enjoy.  I would say I am an intermediate skier, but I have never taught anybody how to ski, let alone a child with a fairly short attention span. 


Can anybody give me any tips about what you might focus on for this first time out?  I did buy one of the Lucky Bums harnesses, but not sure if the first outing is the time to use it.  The bunny hill has a magic carpet.  My guess is that she will be more excited about riding on that then coming down the hill...


All advice is good advice!



post #2 of 10

Welcome to the world of ski parenting!  I remember it well even though my daughter is a tween who can almost out ski me in the trees at Alta now.  She learned in the southeast on little hills.


I was an intermediate when I first got my daughter on skis at age 4.  I put her in full-day (9:30-2:00) ski school from the start.  Not every day, but enough that not only did she learn from an instructor who was trained to teach kids, but also so I could learn what to practice with her.  We only had two ski trips and 5 ski days the first season.  Ski school is well worth the investment.  Especially if the kid is social.


There are many experienced skiers and instructors who don't like harnesses.  All my daughter needed was an edgy-wedgie to help her learn to manage her tips on the first couple days.  The ski school let parents use one with a deposit, then return it when done.  I have a friend who just got her 4yo daughter started in Jan.  Also only needed the edgy-wedgie for a couple days . . . with the help of a very good instructor.  In that case, mother is a beginner too.

post #3 of 10

Click on the Tag (right column towards the top) for Children and scroll down to find relevant threads.  You may find some that you missed before.

post #4 of 10

Hi Jake,


I'm approaching the end of the first season for 3 of my 4 kids.  Ages 9, 7 & 5.  (I wouldn't call what I'm doing w/ my 2yr old skiing yet).


Focusing on the kids having fun is what I always try to keep in mind.  My internal thought is that it should be just as much fun as sledding.  That's all we're doing.  Going out in the snow and sliding around after all.


Second thing that's important for me is patience.  Even the simplest things that we take for granted are a new process for them.

  • getting their skis untwisted after fall.
  • putting on skis (be sure binding heel is open, downhill ski first, etc)
  • How to get on lift safely
  • How to get off lift & get out of the way
  • Looking up hill when stopped to see people coming
  • Where to stop on hill (not in blind spot)
  • etc.


You'll get lots of advice re: the edgie wedgie.  That's up to you.  I found it useful for my 5 year old to get the concept of a wedge, but stopped using it after 2-3 trips.  The only other equipment I wish I would have purchased & probably will for my 2 year old next year is a harness.  I won't use it to control them when skiing, but it would certainly be handy in the lift line and getting on lifts that are a little too high for them.  I find myself pulling on the front of his jacket if I need him to slide quickly when the lift is approaching and/or pulling up to get him on the lift.  I'd likely be positioning the handle in the front vs. the back.  that way I can use it to both pull and/or lift when needed.


Have fun & enjoy the process of your child learning.

post #5 of 10

First time give them some time to just play with the snow when you get there, don't rush them to the rental shop lines and immediate chaos.    When you do get them booted up let then stomp around in the boots for a awhile.  take them up and down the carpet run between your legs where they feel completely safe.  If you're not comfortable toting them around then move directly to the ski school options.  But, it;s REALLY important for them to see how much you LOVE skiing and skiing with them.  


As for actual instruction, after a few initial trial runs with them kids learn best with instructors that are NOT their parents!  The also try harder around other kids than they will with you most of the time.


Finally, biggest drawback for me and my kids is not taking them often enough.  Took a kid twice a year (two days) for three years and each time it was practically back to first time.  Just upping that to THREE times a year made a HUGE difference for retaining what was learned previously. 


Around the house, having gear for them to play with, even when there is no snow on the ground will help them quickly learn to work the bindings, fall and get up, walk around without stepping on their tails.  Have some gear for them to play with next fall before the snow even falls.

post #6 of 10

Gummy bears.

post #7 of 10

I've seen the Lucky Bums trainer used for helping little kids get on the lift.  Even though she is petite, my daughter could handle getting on most lifts by herself by age 5.  All of the lifts at our home mountain were low enough.  I learned to hold her arm, not her hand, in case a little help was needed.  When she still needed more help, she would hold my poles since she wasn't using poles yet.


This is another variation of the idea that popped out from a Google search.  It's a vest with a handle.  Company is in Denver since 1993.




Review from Dec 2012 by Brave Ski Mom


post #8 of 10
+1 what Xela says. Pick a nice day. Nothing ruins the first day if skiing as well as high wind, blizzard snow, or rain. Sounds obvious but too many parents want their kids to tough it out. Make it fun, play a game. Make sure she does not go too fast and get scared. At 4 you don't need the harness.
post #9 of 10
First, my kids wanted to learn to ski thanks to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Christmas episode where Mickey and Donald have to ski to rescue Santa. You can see a lone snowy mountian peak from my backyard and the kids wanted to go to the "Misletoe Mt" to ski like Mickey.

Thanks to Mickey I had my now 4 yo on skis at 2, but it was just a familiarization, not actual ski instruction. We put on the boots and skis in the house and let her walk around, then I would take her outside and pull her edgie wedgies around on the snow.

At 3 I took her to Mt Spokane which has a very gentle learning area at the bottom of the bunny hill. She learned to snowplow with edgie wedgies and liked to go fast, but she also liked to play in the snow just as much. It was frustrating but I didn't push so she wouldn't feel pressured and wanted to ski on her own.

She started pre-school at 3 and we put her in a structured ski school this season at age 4. She loves school and loves learning from teachers so the structured ski school was perfect for her. 6 all day lessons in 6 weeks and she progressed incredibly fast. She can go down all the blues on Mt Spokane and she's starting to make parallel turns in the last weeks.

I've found the most important thing is go slow, don't push, positive re-enforcement is HUGE! Let them learn at their pace. My daughter loves to learn "tricks" as she calls them so moving from wedge turns to parallel turns is her latest trick.

I also learned that when I tried to ski behind her school group and she saw mom or I, she would get super whiney and wanted to ski with us. She did much better on her own without mom and dad watching at a distance, so resist the urge, they are super cute and you want to watch their first turns but if they see you the progress grinds to a halt.
post #10 of 10

+1 on the super whiney thing


+1 on avoiding hostile weather


I've seen those Kinderlift things all around Squaw this season; the ski school seems to have adopted them.  Rarely do I see harnesses or edgie-wedgies, and basically never when professionals are involved.


My kids both started ski school at 3.  With a preschool background, it didn't seem too bad.

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