Originally Posted by chanwmr
A child younger than 6 or 7 generally has a tendency to sit in the back seat -- way back. One cannot effectively edge until the weight is shifted forward out of that position.
I'm by no means a kids expert, but if this is true, it's the instructors fault (if they are in a lesson). I've seen plenty of young kids (6-) that are in perfectly balanced stance. And yes, children have larger heads in proportion to their bodies than adults do, and this will cause some movement to the back seat, but it doesn't have to.
In addition to the COM, a few other reasons kids move to the back seat are:
1). They are on terrain that's too steep for them.
2). Their equipment is improperly balanced for them.
3). We fail to reenforce proper stance and balance.
We can change 1 and 3 and they are definitely related. If we teach our younger students to glide, and how to control their speed by making turn (and not a wedge), there is much less temptation to get into a defensive power wedge. In fact this is a position I try to teach only to stop. However, many of our students are excellent scientists and discover this position on their own. If I'm with a group of kids that starts to power wedge, it's time to traverse (or do something else). If you keep it relatively flat, 1 and 3 won't be a problem. It can create a bit of a misunderstand with the parents at first (most of whom equate how good we are by where we go irregardless of HOW we ski it...), but if you explain WHY we stayed on easy greens all day and when they see their kids rail their skis, it's all good.
There's not too much we can do about #2 except talk to mom and dad. Quite frequently kids get boots that are either too stiff or too soft. Both of these can have detrimental effects on their stance. Boots that are too stiff cause our little guys to break at the waist to lever the front on the ski. Boot that are too soft (esp rear entry boots for kids) often fail to give rearward support, where their butt dumps out the back and again a break at the waist to balance things out. This is much more common. I've seen too many instructors simply ignore the obvious fact that their students are in the trunk. If you see somebody back their, gently remind them where we should stand. (Squish the bugs under your toes....) But again, quite often these students are in terrain that is much too steep for their skills.
I generally teach adults but due to training session for most of our regular kids instructors I got a group of 4 level 6 kids between 7-10. With proper introduction we focused our edges most of the afternoon. We learned how to engage them to keep up from slipping on steep pitches, how to carve with them on the flats, how to release them to start the turn and how to sideslip (forwards and back). While carving we also talked about how to change the shape of our turns using our edges. Fairly advanced stuff, and they all got the concept and applied it. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. Keep it fun, keep them engaged, and keep moving!