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For those with Kids

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 
At what age did you start your kids in Lessons. What do you consider the optimal "starting out" age. Do you think ski school lessons at 3 years old is unwise?
post #2 of 53
I started mine at four and one made out better than the other. The key is likely do you have the patience to take your 3 year old out and understand that his/her attention span isn't going to be really intense.

I've definitely seen 3 year olds on the slopes so I wouldn't think it was too early to let them "feel it out".
post #3 of 53
It depends on the kid. If he/she is a mature/active 3 year old, I'd say go for it. If he/she is a leg hugger, then I'd hold off. One thing for sure is that you're better off waiting than having a kid have a poor experience early and then never be willing to try it again later.

My kids started the same day when one was 5 and the other was 3. They both took to it like a fish to water, and the only battle was getting them to leave at the end of the day.
post #4 of 53
I say in general when the child is ready to ride a bicycle without training wheels, the child will have the coordination and attention span to learn to ski.

Mine was tromping around with toy skis at age 3. At 4, he started on real skis, but there was no pressure on him. After most of the season where he simply tromped around, one day he suddenly expressed the desire to go. And he went. And he executed his first turn. At 5, he was cruising greens. At 6, he discovered the trees. Now he is 9. We signed him up for the pre-race program this coming year.
post #5 of 53
3 years age is the right one to start, so did mine. Go for it.
post #6 of 53
I have kids of my own well past this age and have taught skads of them over the years: f/w/i/w:

FUN---- this must be your mantra-

at 3 and 4 they mostly have the motor skills and some interest in doing what the bigs are doing, but, NO cold days unless the child begs (really begs)- and then plenty of coco, french fries etc- in the first years we didn't let our kids ride the lifts under about 20 degrees F. (high 20's and above freezing are preferred) spring skiing is the ideal time to start them.

plenty of snowball fights, take the skis off and roll around in the snow-- short times outside etc- this can be very frustrating for the adult but really matters

kids programs at most areas understand this and intersperse the periods outside with games, videos etc inside.

5-6 they start to want more time on the sticks, but still need LOTS of downtime during the day- can you say 2 hours for lunch?

7-8 if all goes well you have created a snowsports fiend- if they have ther bug they will want to be outside all day and then sledding after the ski day-

If you are a day tripper, find a hill with a program you like- it is too frustrating to make the journey, buy tickets etc for what amounts to very little time on the snow- and if you press the kid into more time becuase you have made the effort, they won't understand- the effort means nothing to them when they are wanting to be inside.

enjoy the ride-
post #7 of 53
Originally Posted by Coach13
and the only battle was getting them to leave at the end of the day.
And a battle I hope to be fighting in a few years...

My daughter will be two this January. We are spending a week at Loon in March and I plan to bring along some of those plastic skis for her to tool around on. It will be nothing serious and she may only be in them for five minutes, but I just want her to feel like she's participating in the "skiing experience". More of a psychological exercise than a physical one. When she's three I hope to get her started in ski school...
post #8 of 53
I'd agree with everything Coach13 said, but some other considerations are; will a lot of your kid(s) friends be doing snow sports? if their friends aren't interested in snow sports chances are they won't be. What about snowboards? would you be upset if they choose the "dark side"? I sure was, but thats a different story. It might be good to find a ski school with a really good kids program and see if some of your childs friends parents are interested in signing up too. I skied with our daughter in a backpack right around her 1st birthday and she started shuffling around our fields on little Karhu x/c's the next winter, and started downhill skiing at around 3 or 4. But every one is different, and being with friends and/or family ws a big factor for her.
post #9 of 53
I've taught a lot of kids to ski, and I think 3 is too young. I started my kids on ice skates and cross country skis which they could use in the back yard, but I never took them skiing until they were begging to go. They were 6 before I ever took them on a regular basis. Twenty years later we are all still skiing together.

Three is too young for lessons. They are not strong enough to work the equipment at all. Spend the time to play in the snow with your kid, and teach him/her to enjoy winter.

Unless you live close enough to ski every day, your kid will never ski like a local no matter how early you start. Forget about training your kid for the Olympics, unless you can move to the mountains and give up everything else in your life. If you live in the city, at best your kid will grow up to be an enthusiastic tourist, and there's nothing wrong with that.

post #10 of 53
I personally cannot confirm age 3 being too young. It depends a lot on the right approach. Of course we took them with first plastic skis on between our legs for first slides.

When our kids started up at that age we let them ski half-day until lunchtime to allow them to recover sufficiently. The first days you should stay close to them to boost their confidence as they are getting better and better each day. We just taught them basic moves the first day and turned them into ski school the second. If you are choosing a good kiddie ski school they just handle it right and adapt very well to the kids' needs (sufficiént breaks, encouragements ect.), avoiding excessive demands. After a week we could take them on a blue run half way up the mountain and let them ski down with their basic skills back then - worked out great, no reason to tell different.
post #11 of 53
First of all, give your local ski areas a call. They may not even take kids that young. We take kids as young as 4. My daughter turned 3 this summer, and seems (for now) to be really excited to try skiing. We put her on the little plastic skis last winter for about a half hour in our yard when it snowed, and on rentals at the ski area. The on-snow time on the ski hill lasted about 5 minutes.

I bought my daughter 80cm rossi princess skis off ebay, to help motivate her (she's into everything princess), which she hasn't seen yet. Hopefully, the sight of them will make her want to go skiing even more.

Since I've been teaching for a long time, I plan on doing all of the teaching myself, and showing my wife how to work with her.

One thing to remember, is that no matter how much she does or does not take to skiing at this age, will have no effect on how well shi skis (if she skis at all) when she's 6-8 years old.
post #12 of 53
My son was 3 years and 8 months when he started in his first lesson at Ski Sundown in CT. He taught there last season during the week and teaches at Okemo on the weekends. At Okemo you may have seen him in the White Snow Tiger costume, skiing bumps.

He was riding a two wheel bike at age 3 with out training wheels. I think it does depend on each childs ability at that age.
post #13 of 53
There's obviously no "right" answer that applies to every 3 year old. My 3 year old did great, had a ball, and begged to go back. My 5 year old was the same. We initially signed them up for a day lesson and then extended it to five days. On the other hand, my 5 year old neice who was in the same class lasted about 30 minutes and was done for the week.
post #14 of 53
I started one at 3, the other at 29 months, in diapers. The youngest was doing laps of the magic carpet after 4 days, with just one 45 minute lesson each day, and had refused to use the edgy-wedgy on day 1.

I think the key to success was that I personally did not try to teach them. At that young age, they won't draw the distinction between doing the activity and doing it for dad.
post #15 of 53
What has already been said is pretty much on the mark, so I'll just add some more anecdotal info.

I started my daughter skiing when she was just over 3 y.o.. Within a couple of days, she had absolutely no problem with upper level greens, never complained, etc.. My real problem with her was that she never knew when to quit and wanted to progress to blues and blacks in that first year. She certainly could have safely descended such trails (if empty, good snow, etc.) at 3 y.o., but it was waaay before her technique was ready. I didn't want her to become another power-wedge guided missile flying down the slopes in a straight line with zero control, so I didn't let her get up on serious blues and blacks for another couple of seasons.

OTOH, kids are wildly different in their athletic ability, coordination, maturity, desire to ski, etc.. When our kids' program is short of instructors, I sometimes am pressed into service and have had to deal with 7 and 8 y.o.'s that should clearly not be in ski school yet.

At the other extreme, my best child student last year was a private with a little Chinese girl who had just turned 4 y.o. She was an ice skater, and I had her doing skating step turns down the bunny slope, hand-in-hand with me, giggling all the way, and doing so within a half hour of her first putting on skis. Heck, I couldn't do that with 95% of adult students.

The bottom line is that the most appropriate age to start a child on skis varies all over the place.

Tom / PM

PS - BobB would have been very proud of that little Chinese girl. Right from the start, I had her saying (and thinking), "let's GO over there ... lets GO over here next and check out that snow gun ...what's that laying in the snow over there, I'll 'race' you over there to find out, ... etc.". Because "over there" always involved completing a turn and sometimes even going back up hill a bit, never once did it look like speed control was an issue for her, even on that hardpacked, semi-icy night.

The strange thing was that her parents positioned themselves at the bottom of the bunny slope and watched the entire lesson. When I spoke to them afterwards, they just couldn't seem to understand that the progress she made was extraordinary. In fact, they then wanted to turn her over to her 8 or 9 y.o. brother who was power-wedging all over the mountain - arghhh.
post #16 of 53
Pretty much consistent with what everyone else has already said:

My daughter started at 3 1/2 and enjoyed it. She didn't do lessons then, because the ski school's minimum is 4. She has done lessons from 4 1/2 on, has fun and learns stuff.

The amount of "teaching" you can do at 3 is pretty minimal in any event: make a pizza slice, go that way, watch where you're going! But the kids (some of 'em anyway) enjoy it, and get comfortable on skis.

Kids do vary, of course, even in the same family. I had younger sisters, and I still have clear mental images of one of them weeping, unable to keep her gloves on, falling down while trying to walk ... and another one (at a younger age) bombing through moguls as high as her chest. The first one now lives in the tropics, and the second one is a patroller/former racer/former race coach.
post #17 of 53
Originally Posted by sjjohnston
The amount of "teaching" you can do at 3 is pretty minimal in any event: make a pizza slice, go that way, watch where you're going! But the kids (some of 'em anyway) enjoy it, and get comfortable on skis.
In a group environment, the younger ones tend to emulate the older ones. At least some do. I'd hazard a guess and say that those with older siblings will be more likely to do that.

At three, my youngest did not understand edging etc, but once shown it was copied. So there is far more they can do than a pizza! It just takes the right environment and good teachers that know what to do to make it happen.

post #18 of 53

Listen to them

I agree with all other posts but add the following insight that may help all with kids just starting out.

When they say, "I have to go potty", don't think you can get in just 1 more run. I know from experience. And, on a second note always have a spare change of clothes, because a 2 1/2 hour ride home with a very smelly 5 year old tends to wreck an otherwise great ski day.
post #19 of 53
My daughter started skiing at 4. She has loved every minute of it and now is racing for her third season as a J4. I say start them early, make it fun. Can you ski backwards???
post #20 of 53
Just chiming in with a thumbs up on the early age! Of course, it does depend on whether the child is interested or not.

I started when I was 4; now I am 40 and I have always been addicted (I even waited to marry a man who skis as much as I do!). My younger brother started when he was 2 and by the time he was 5, he was racing eveyone down the mountain. Not surprisingly, by the time he was 7, he was on a race team and was beating the older kids! He doesn't race anymore; in fact, he and his wife are into cross-country skiing now, but the love of the outdoors is still there. My older brother started at the oldest age, he was 8 (that's when Mom and Dad first got into skiing though, or he probably would have started younger). He has 2 kids, both started when they were 3.

I think if the kid is willing and the parents are enthusiastic, it will work out fine.

post #21 of 53
We started both ours at age 4.....they both picked it up quickly and loved it. My son wasn't big on the idea of stopping at the end of a run though and hit a few things along the way. At least hitting the sign stopped him!!

My son switched to snowboarding at age 6 (he's now 10)

My daughter tried snowboarding the last trip of the 2003 season (in April)at age 11. We sold her ski stuff on ebay in September and she now snowboards full time as well. I was actually hoping that she wouldn't like to board as much as her brother because she was basically an "advanced" skier and we had alot of $$ invested in ski lessons. However, we're not the type to NOT let our kids try new things and after 1/2 day on the board, she said she was done with skiing!!!
post #22 of 53
another thought-

if you decide to try it, find some 80 cm's and boots. If they are excited about skiing help them get the gear on and shuffle around on the carpeted floor with them- this really eases the first day on the snow -- they know wha the the skis feel like before they get the slippery interface underneath---
post #23 of 53
I put my daughter on skis at 4 years old, then last year at 5 years she switched to a snowboard and enjoyed that much more (especially since dad snowboards and doesn't ski). My son will be 3 1/2 this winter and I may try him out on my daughters small skis and see how he does. He is much more athletic then my daughter and I would consider him at 3.5 to be equal or more advanced then my daughter was at 4. As long as the snow is soft for the fall and the kids are having fun no harm done.
post #24 of 53
Originally Posted by oldtimer
another thought-

if you decide to try it, find some 80 cm's and boots. If they are excited about skiing help them get the gear on and shuffle around on the carpeted floor with them- this really eases the first day on the snow -- they know wha the the skis feel like before they get the slippery interface underneath---
That is exactly what I did with my son 13 years ago. I also forgot the other importent thing, BRING EXTRA CLOTH'S. They will use them.
post #25 of 53
My son started at 3, the first year we just took him along and had fun. The next year he started ski lessons. This year will be his 4th season on skis. The key is to let them have fun, and do it with them. This will create a fun atmosphere.
post #26 of 53
Both were 3...One was not quite socially ready for the class thing though and after a few in the local programme got expelled (chuckle...that's my girl!)...So private instructor for the rest of that year...next year at 4 she was fine in a group....

post #27 of 53
We started our daughter at 4 years old. Our local ski school didn’t take kids younger than 4 years old. She was a little small for her age so we rented skis and boots for the season long before the season to avoid any problems finding boots small enough to fit each time we took her skiing. We talked it up a lot before the season and let her tromp around with the skis and boots on the carpet in our playroom. She was excited about skiing long before the season ever started. She loved the rope tow when younger but at 6 years old she still needed help on and off the lift because of her small size. She loved ski school when she was younger at Cataloochee NC. However this past year we took her to Breckenridge for her first trip out west and she begged to ski with us after the first day of ski school. She said she got bored and it was too easy. I know Breck has a great ski school so it might have been just being that far away from home that was really bothering her (and she was getting sick). Anyway at 6 years old she was already skiing good enough to ski all the blues at Breck so we were able to enjoy the rest of the trip with her tagging along.
post #28 of 53
My parents waited until I had matured a bit, till I could get along with the other kids and so that I wasn't bawling my eyes out when they left me at the ski school.
Honestly I respect their decision and I'm sure they did it for my own good, but it's just that I can't help thinking 27 years of age is a bit late to start skiing
post #29 of 53
Originally Posted by BigE
I think the key to success was that I personally did not try to teach them. At that young age, they won't draw the distinction between doing the activity and doing it for dad.
I definitely agree with the above statement. I had my daughter on skis at 4 1/2. I was attempting to teach her but she didn't want anything to do with it. The next year I gave her a private one hour lesson and it worked out great. In fact we signed her up for a four week Sunday 2 1/2 hour group lesson program and the light went on. She's been doing great ever since. The only thing to watch is the limited attention span. We get about 45 minutes skiing and then it's snack/break time. She was 7 1/2 last year and it's still snack time every hour. I'm hoping for a little more ski time this year!
post #30 of 53
Whether you should try to teach a little kid yourself seems to depend on the kid. I taught my daughter at 3-1/2 with no ill effects. The "teaching" was pretty limited. It's not like a 3-1/2 year old is going to absorb much from a detailed discussion of flexion and extension, weight distribution, etc. It's more a matter of "follow me!" You can demonstrate a gliding wedge, right? From there, it's just a matter of some miles and some fun. Once they're a little bigger -- you actually can explain things to a 6-year-old -- a good instructor does make a difference.

I was an instructor for a couple seasons, but it was so long ago I don't think it gives me any special qualifications.
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