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First multiweeks at age 5: What to expect?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

We'll be enrolling my daughter into multiweek ski lessons this January. She'll be 5 at the time. She'll get 6 lessons that are 2 hours and 15 minutes each.


​I'm wondering what to expect. She is a slower learner when it comes time for hands on, physical activities, so I do not expect her zooming down the slopes anytime soon.

 

But I am wondering what might an outcome for her. Is it likely she'll still be on the magic carpet? Riding chairlifts? ​

 

I've read that green slopes might happen for 6 - 8 year olds.



Would like to hear your experiences and input.

post #2 of 26

Each kid is different. Just allow them to progress at their own pace and have fun.

Most lessons at that age focus on the fun component and hot chocolate. :D 

 

The best thing is enjoy the moments with her. 

post #3 of 26
I would go in without expectations of any result and see where things go. What I did with my daughter was to take her to the slopes 3 nights a week for night skiing. The ski area wasn't busy and we had free reign on the magic carpets to practice. I think repitition is key and let her just have fun on nice easy terrain. If she likes it there will be a point where it just clicks and she will probably quickly be able to ski most any green, blue and even some blacks. When it clicks could be this season or two years from now each kid is different. Just take her out often and keep it fun.
post #4 of 26

Too many differences between kids for anyone to predict.  Follow her lead and enjoy the little things.  If she wants to go for one more run after the lesson, great.  If not, head in for hot chocolate.  Some kids think riding a chairlift is like a carnival ride, so they really want to get good enough to do that.  Others are nervous about loading the chair.

 

At my small home mountain in VA, ski school starts at age 4.  A never-ever class has no more than 4 kids.  Seen plenty of little ones ages 4-5 on the lift after lunch once they get comfortable sliding down the teaching slope next to the magic carpet in the morning sessions.

 

My daughter learned to ski at age 4 pretty quickly.  She was a reasonably adventurous little kid.  But not good with sports that involved a ball . . . still not good.  However, she is good at individual physical activities like gymnastics, dance, horseback riding, skating, skiing, rock climbing, etc.

post #5 of 26

Paging @L&AirC, @freeski919 for an instructor's perspective on the OP's question about a 5yo.

post #6 of 26
I don't teach 5 year olds that often, but aside from the skiing, one thing stands out for young skiers. Please, don't skimp on buying the best gloves you can afford. $8 Walmart specials so often result in cold, miserable hands, tears, and truncated lessons that signing up for them isn't worth your while. Also, please send kids to their class with some sort of neck protection. On cold days, a balaclava under the helmet is a must. The chemical pack hand and feet warmers can be a godsend as well. Dnt tuck long johns, etc... into your child's boots. buy long enough socks so long john/socks overlap out side the boot. this is both a warmth and comfort issue. Take care of the basic clothing needs and the chances of success during the lesson period increase exponentially.

Also, make sure both you and your child have the instructors name memorized on the odd chance he/she gets separated, even momentarily, from their group. It doesn't happen often, but if another instructor sees something amiss, the first question is often "who's your teacher?". Oh... A piece of duct tape or similar with your child's first name and last initial on the helmet is nice! smile.gif
post #7 of 26

I've spent a good chunk of my teaching career teaching 4-6 year olds. I now teach seasonal kids, who are a bit older. 

 

I have to agree with the above, results can vary widely with 5 year olds. I have had some 5 year olds who have picked up on the skills fairly quickly, and been off the magic carpet after the first lesson. I have had others who have spent 10 lessons on the carpet. With six half-day lessons, the center of the probability curve would have a small chairlift as the most likely outcome, but that also varies depending on the teaching terrain available. Some big magic carpets will cover more challenging terrain than some small chairlifts. 

 

Anyhow, the skills progress is completely unimportant. Frankly, I wouldn't care too much about it. And I'd be concerned if it appears your child's instructor is too focused on skills progress too. I know that sounds odd, but at 5 years old, the most important part of skiing is being safe, and then comes fun. If learning happens along the way, great. But if the instructor is just trying to drill the kids and not letting them have fun, they're not going to want to ski anymore in any case. 

post #8 of 26

Gloves, gloves and more gloves. Good waterproof clothes. Make sure the feet are dry when they go into the boots, and that the boots are dry too. Get them goggles. If your kid likes playing in the snow, he'll like skiing too. And he'll be in the snow for sure, so it's all about the warm and dry. 

post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

I don't teach 5 year olds that often, but aside from the skiing, one thing stands out for young skiers. Please, don't skimp on buying the best gloves you can afford. $8 Walmart specials so often result in cold, miserable hands, tears, and truncated lessons that signing up for them isn't worth your while. Also, please send kids to their class with some sort of neck protection. On cold days, a balaclava under the helmet is a must. The chemical pack hand and feet warmers can be a godsend as well. Dnt tuck long johns, etc... into your child's boots. buy long enough socks so long john/socks overlap out side the boot. this is both a warmth and comfort issue. Take care of the basic clothing needs and the chances of success during the lesson period increase exponentially.

Also, make sure both you and your child have the instructors name memorized on the odd chance he/she gets separated, even momentarily, from their group. It doesn't happen often, but if another instructor sees something amiss, the first question is often "who's your teacher?". Oh... A piece of duct tape or similar with your child's first name and last initial on the helmet is nice! smile.gif

And send a backup pair, too.

post #10 of 26
Another vote for an extra pair of mittens or gloves. I'd throw in extra socks too, since little kid boots are so low that you often get snow in them.

If she's on the quiet side check that she can get her jacket done up by herself and glove on. We found mitten clips really useful. Having something that connects gloves to jacket meant that they didn't get dropped or lost and there were no issues with trying to put them on the wrong hands.

We also put a note in our sons pocket with name, ski instructor, our names and phone numbers in case of accidental separation.
post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski Kiwi View Post

Another vote for an extra pair of mittens or gloves. I'd throw in extra socks too, since little kid boots are so low that you often get snow in them.

If she's on the quiet side check that she can get her jacket done up by herself and glove on. We found mitten clips really useful. Having something that connects gloves to jacket meant that they didn't get dropped or lost and there were no issues with trying to put them on the wrong hands.

We also put a note in our sons pocket with name, ski instructor, our names and phone numbers in case of accidental separation.

 

 

^^^ this stuff ^^^   though for 2 hours, spare mitts will be for after the lesson. 

post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post
 

Gloves, gloves and more gloves. Good waterproof clothes. Make sure the feet are dry when they go into the boots, and that the boots are dry too. Get them goggles. If your kid likes playing in the snow, he'll like skiing too. And he'll be in the snow for sure, so it's all about the warm and dry. 


What prickly and the others above said, and let me add this:

 

1) Gloves/mittens that fall in the snow make for wet and cold hands. Get wrist cuffs for the gloves/mittens or purchase a ski jacket that has clips that come out of the wrists (e.g., Obermeyer).

2) Get your daughter into martial arts, dance, or something that strengthens the legs. She should be on the green slopes in no time flat. My younger son was less than 3 years-old when he rode his first chairlift with an instructor.  It can happen. At that age he was only good for one or two runs before tiring, but kids with balance can start early. My older son was around five when he started on intermediate trails. Both could ski black diamond before age 8. Again, it can happen.

3) Set your daughter up for a good time by telling her she is going to a special school--a ski school--for kids just like preschool or elementary school. This way she won't get upset when you drop her off and walk away.

4) Dontworryaboutit. The ski schools today know how to take care of the kids.

5) Some of the best kid gloves/mittens come from Hestra. They aren't cheap, but you aren't purchasing the junk that most kids wear.

6) Having some hand warmers for the really cold days can't hurt.


Edited by quant2325 - 9/14/15 at 2:06pm
post #13 of 26

I did some snooping around and based on your avatar name, I'm guessing this is the program you're enrolling her in at Chrystal Mountain:

 

Multi-Week Programs

Snow Bunny Half-Day Ages 4-6 – Ski Only

This program is designed for the first time skier to the seasoned little ripper. Class sizes are no larger than 4 children, depending on ability level. Our primary goal is to provide a safe, fun learning environment for your little ones. This program includes 6 weeks of 2 hour lessons. These lessons are for skiers only. Student to coach ratio is 4 to 1. Snowboard instruction starts at age 7.

 

We have a similar program at Crotched - Radical Kids.  Safe and fun is what it is all about.  The advice you received above is all well worth reading a couple more times.  Put your effort into making sure she is warm an it will make sure she gets the most out of the program.  I'm sure the instructors are well versed in paying attention it the kids are "I'm cold" because I'm bored/scared and "I'm cold" because I'm cold. As mentioned, hands are the first to go.  It helps a heap to keep their core warm to keep the hands warm.

 

The focus at Crotched is to have the kids "on snow".  The might not be on skis, but they'll be in ski boots learning how to walk in them which is difficult for little ones that have weak ankles (compared to the rest of their body - which isn't that strong yet either), a head too big and amplified by a helmet.  Walking in ski boots and walking up a hill is a milestone for a 4 or 5 year old.  Those boot will feel as flexible as cinder blocks to them.

 

You should set your expectation on your daughter having fun and the expectation of the ski school to make it safe and fun. If she isn't, find out why.  If she doesn't get on skis for the first couple times out, don't worry.  She is learning to love being out their in very awkward gear.  It will come.

 

Their is usually a little slope in the beginner area with an outdoor carpet that the kids can walk up on while on skis.  From their they will get their first slides.  Once they can turn each way and stop, they'll go to the magic carpet.  Once that is mastered, they MIGHT go up the lift.  Don't bank on this.  If they do make it up, the instructors and lifties will make sure it is done safely.  At CM, since the kids at that age can't work the bar or get on the lift by themselves, we'll get a couple extra instructors or other adults to help get the kids up.  At CM the lift next to the beginner area that they would use is a double so for this we have to have a 1:1 going up the lift.

 

Do lots of searches on epic on keeping kids warm.  There is a ton of info.  The person that invented "Hot Hands" has a special place in heaven reserved for them.

 

When you drop her off; skidaddle.  Especially if she isn't happy about being dropped off to strangers.  Let the ski school handle it.  More than likely, you'll do nothing more than drag out the drama.  Kids act differently when with their parents than other adults.  Just like dropping her off to pre school or kindergarten.  

 

You should get some feedback from her instructor at the end of the day of what she worked on and how she did.

 

Have fun,

 

Ken

post #14 of 26

Some info posted by @chanwmr a while back seems useful in this case.  Includes specific suggestions of fun things to do at home well before ski season starts to enhance balance and encourage the idea that wearing ski clothes is fun.

 

http://www.smuggs.com/pages/universal/view-blog/2014/10/23/the-power-of-play-three-fun-ways-to-prep-kids-for-skiing-riding/

post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Some info posted by @chanwmr a while back seems useful in this case.  Includes specific suggestions of fun things to do at home well before ski season starts to enhance balance and encourage the idea that wearing ski clothes is fun.

Really?:dunno

post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by chanwmr View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Some info posted by @chanwmr a while back seems useful in this case.  Includes specific suggestions of fun things to do at home well before ski season starts to enhance balance and encourage the idea that wearing ski clothes is fun.

Really?:dunno


From Nov 2014:

http://www.epicski.com/t/129882/article-on-prepping-little-kids-for-the-slopes

 

Wasn't any discussion in the original thread, but I read the article and remembered it.  The idea of dress up made sense since I started my daughter at age 4.  Although she loved her first day of ski school so much that no additional incentive was needed.  Helped that she doesn't really get cold easily.

post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks all.


I'm not too worried about the cold as long as she can stay dry because it's warm weather skiing here in Seattle - daytime temperatures are usually in the 30's, so that will help. Staying dry will be huge and my wife is on the lookout for dry ski gear. Rain is common up at Snoqualmie Pass (where she'll do lessons) and she needs to stay dry even if it is raining while skiing. While I eventually want to move her to Crystal Mountain, ski lessons there cost $500 for a set of six while I can get six ski lessons for ~$130 at Snoqualmie Pass, so we're doing Snoqualmie this year for lessons.

post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crystal Mtn View Post
 

Thanks all.


I'm not too worried about the cold as long as she can stay dry because it's warm weather skiing here in Seattle - daytime temperatures are usually in the 30's, so that will help. Staying dry will be huge and my wife is on the lookout for dry ski gear. Rain is common up at Snoqualmie Pass (where she'll do lessons) and she needs to stay dry even if it is raining while skiing. While I eventually want to move her to Crystal Mountain, ski lessons there cost $500 for a set of six while I can get six ski lessons for ~$130 at Snoqualmie Pass, so we're doing Snoqualmie this year for lessons.


Hope you'll let us know how it goes.  Makes good sense to take advantage of less expensive alternatives when getting a little one started.

 

Did you notice how happy this father was with the Winter Park program last season?  His daughter was 4.

http://www.epicski.com/t/133086/kids-first-week-skiing

post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 


From Nov 2014:

http://www.epicski.com/t/129882/article-on-prepping-little-kids-for-the-slopes

 

Wasn't any discussion in the original thread, but I read the article and remembered it.  The idea of dress up made sense since I started my daughter at age 4.  Although she loved her first day of ski school so much that no additional incentive was needed.  Helped that she doesn't really get cold easily.


OK, that makes sense now. Haha

post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crystal Mtn View Post
 

Thanks all.


I'm not too worried about the cold as long as she can stay dry because it's warm weather skiing here in Seattle - daytime temperatures are usually in the 30's, so that will help. Staying dry will be huge and my wife is on the lookout for dry ski gear. Rain is common up at Snoqualmie Pass (where she'll do lessons) and she needs to stay dry even if it is raining while skiing. While I eventually want to move her to Crystal Mountain, ski lessons there cost $500 for a set of six while I can get six ski lessons for ~$130 at Snoqualmie Pass, so we're doing Snoqualmie this year for lessons.


WHoaaaa.... Every year there's at least one weekend of very cold weather. I mean single digits in the morning at the top of Forest Queen at Crystal. If my kid were taking lessons up at the pass, I'd get him/her a dedicated rain jacket or jr. sailing foul weather gear jacket.  (The price of lessons at Crystal includes a season pass this season FWIW.)

post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post
 


WHoaaaa.... Every year there's at least one weekend of very cold weather. I mean single digits in the morning at the top of Forest Queen at Crystal. If my kid were taking lessons up at the pass, I'd get him/her a dedicated rain jacket or jr. sailing foul weather gear jacket.  (The price of lessons at Crystal includes a season pass this season FWIW.)​



Single digits is nothing. I'm from Montana where single digits is not uncommon on top of the mountain. Negative temperatures (-10 and below) is what is cold. -30 is darn cold.

 

But to stay on topic, this year my daughter won't be skiing at Crystal except maybe once or twice with me, and we won't go those super cold days. Be she will be skiing at the Pass and I expect her to get rained on at least one of the times.

 

Yes, I'm aware that the $433 early bird (until September 30th) or $488 package lesson price includes a $50 season pass. That's still way too much money for 6 half day lessons at CrystaI.


I've also witnessed crummy instruction up there on more than one occasion. Saw ski instructors going off jumps and leaving the little kids behind because they were more interested in skiing than in teaching kids how to ski. I'm sure there are very good instructors on the hill, but I don't want to risk paying $500 and having my kid stuck with an instructor who isn't there for the right reasons. I'm not trying to put down the program, just comment on what I've seen.

What we get for our $130 program remains to be seen.

post #22 of 26
Name on back and front of helmet.
If the child has a name that's gender neutral like Alex, some clue of whether they're a boy or girl. When kids have goggles on, a face mask or their mouth buried in a neck warmer it's hard to even hear them. Distinguishing the gender of their voice can be difficult.

If going from zero experience, some time spent getting boots on and what not to put in them- snow pants would help. There's a lot of gear involved in skiing and getting a kid used it well before their first time on snow helps.
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crystal Mtn View Post



Single digits is nothing. I'm from Montana where single digits is not uncommon on top of the mountain. Negative temperatures (-10 and below) is what is cold. -30 is darn cold.

I'm not trying to put down the program, just comment on what I've seen.

It's about temps for a 5 year old, not what we as adults are used to of grew up with. Single digits for a 5 year old is hot chocolate territory. And the jumping instructor(s) at Crystal. I'd suggest in the future you speak with the ski school director if you see something that seems dangerous or questionable. As an instructor, I would welcome the chance to address someone's concerns. Very often there's a context to instruction/coaching that a casual observer might not be aware of.
Edited by markojp - 9/17/15 at 10:06pm
post #24 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

And the jumping instructor(s) at Crystal. I'd suggest in the future you speak with the ski school director if you see something that seems dangerous or questionable. As an instructor, I would welcome it. Very often there's a context to instruction/coaching that a casual observer might not be aware of. I'm always happy to have parents follow my groups for a lap.

 

The situation that I observed was obvious: The instructor was either clueless or (more likely) wasn't happy to be teaching that day. It was a group of little kids, probably 6-8 years old. There were maybe three or four of them, skiing down Tinkerbell, in a line as little kids do. Each turn was a wedge style turn and the kids were struggling to make it down the hill but trying the hardest. One of the kids asked "where's our instructor", and I looked up and there he was far in the distance, going off on the side of the run, hitting the jumps. Not teaching the kids. They wanted their instructor nearby so they had a leader (as they were little kids) and they needed to learn from him but he wasn't around to teach. The guy should have been fired, plain and simple. He wasn't doing the job he was getting paid to do, and the parents should have been refunded their money for ski lessons or been credited a lesson since the instructor wasn't actually teaching the kids, it was the little kids teaching each other.

 

I e-mailed the ski school program that evening. I didn't try to get the instructors name and tattle on him, but did suggest that they coach the instructors on proper etiquette and how to best teach the little kids on the slopes. No one wrote back to me. Never heard a word from them in response to my e-mail. Then I saw a similar thing happen later. I didn't e-mail the second time since no one bothered to respond to my first.

 

I'd much rather enroll my kids up at Crystal instead of Snoqualmie. I won't ski Snoqualmie and it's going to be a pain to have half the family on one mountain and have on the other. But I have no idea how to ensure my daughter get a decent instructor. She doesn't need the best, but one who has little kids best interests at heart and there on the mountain with the attitude that they want to teach little kids that day, not dreaming about big powder days or the cool new features in the jib park.

 

Forgive me for ranting. But the worst of the instructors are giving Crystal's ski school a bad reputation. I'm sure I'm not the only parent to witness bad instruction. I'd be happy to speak with the ski school director or whomever about what I've seen if they want to give me a ring or send me an e-mail. You can private message me for my phone number or e-mail address and I'd be happy to provide it.

post #25 of 26
Pleas feel free to contact me if you see this again. I'd be happy to bring it to someone's actionable attention. I'm fortunate enough to be involved in part of the program that seems to enjoy great success and is popular with both parents and students so as said before, Im always happy to take the opportunity to explain to parents the what, why, and how, of what we did and will be doing.
post #26 of 26

I put my kid into his skis and boots in the living room before he started (age 3.5) Getting them excited to ski helps and getting them comfortable moving around with skis on helps a lot more.  I think different areas are better or worse.  Our first ski week with Matt he was on a chairlift and skiing long greens the first day and easier blues halfway through the week.  We had been planning on going to a different resort, but the very nice gentleman who's house we were going to rent advised me to reconsider based on the not so great experience his grand child had there the previous season.  In fact, we met some folks who moved their 4-year old daughter from that resort to the one we were at midweek as she was not progressing.  I know there are many factors involved but I think it pays to go to a place that has a good rep. with teaching kids.  It did for us.

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