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Lesson Expectations

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
There have been numerous threads in the instruction section that dealt with the expectations adults have for their own lessons. As a children's instructor, I'm interested in the expectations that parents have for their children's lessons.

So without further adieu,

- Should improvement be expected every time, at every level?

- Fun vs. Learning -- Is a lesson considered a bust if the child did not progress, yet still had fun?

- Weather/Conditions -- Are expectations lowered when Mother Nature fails to cooperate? When does a parent say no, it's too nasty out for ski school today? Are there conditions you'll send your kid out in that you won't ski in yourself?

The last question is of particular interest due to the adverse conditions we faced in the East over the MLK, Jr. holiday weekend. On Saturday it rained for several hours, with an overcast finish to the day. Despite this, the snow was soft, edgeable, and the air temps comfortable. Our ski school attendance was roughly 20% of what we should have had if conditions were better. Fast forward to Sunday, which saw 6" of new snow with temps hovering in the single digits. Windchills were well below zero. Ski school attendance, however, was robust.

Although I was not surprised, I was pretty aggravated by the number of parents on Sunday who complained that their child was spending too much time inside, i.e., not skiing and learning. I attribute the complaints to inexperience -- the majority came from parents of "never-evers", some of whom hadn't even bothered to properly dress their precious cargo for the extreme cold that day.
post #2 of 18
From my perspective. (Two kids, currrently 10, 8):

- Should improvement be expected every time, at every level?

Yes, I expect improvement at every level, although to varying degrees. I also realize that sometimes, the improvement may be subtle. (When I used to teach 3 year olds to swim, sometimes just getting them in the water was a major accomplishment). Most important to me is honesty at the end of the lesson. A brief synopsis of what slopes were involved, how he/she did on the different slopes and what I could work on with them outside of ski school would be great. I'm probably in the distinct minority on this one, but hearing nothing but favorable things drives me crazy. Say a few nice things, but give me honest comments and things to work on.


- Fun vs. Learning -- Is a lesson considered a bust if the child did not progress, yet still had fun?

If my kid learned a lot but didn't have fun, then it would be a bust for me. If my kid didn;t have fun, chances are it would be much more difficult for me to ever get the kid back in ski school again. If he was on the slopes and had fun, that's a great day.

- Weather/Conditions -- Are expectations lowered when Mother Nature fails to cooperate? When does a parent say no, it's too nasty out for ski school today? Are there conditions you'll send your kid out in that you won't ski in yourself?

Yes, expectations are lowered. If weather is nasty, I expect and understand that the instructor has to take care of the kid in the class with the lowest threshold for pain, cold, etc. (which could be my kid on any day).
post #3 of 18
This question caught my attention because I too was out skiing on Sunday in PA, and it was brutal with the windchill - not to mention they had snowguns going as well. We were all layered and bundled up, and although I personally was warm enough, my adult daughter was crying from frostbitten toes and my teenage son got separated from us before I was able to buy him a new face mask which he desperately needed (but didn't have enough pocket money to buy himself). I felt bad that I hadn't thought to protect his face before we took the first run and got separated. He was frozen cold and ticked off. I've raised three children into adulthood, and I don't think I would've put a child in ski school on Sunday. I was really very surprised at how crowded the ski slopes were and how many very young children were out that day - even as late as 8:00 pm. Most of the young kids I saw didn't look happy. Frostbite warnings were in effect, and you really had to take great care to prevent it.
post #4 of 18
Oh yeah, and I consider if a child had fun then progess IS made. It's better than if they hated the lesson. I don't think visible skill improvement with each lesson is necessarily realistic.
post #5 of 18
depending on the kids, sometimes reinforcing movement patterns without any "instruction" is the best thing to do. Go have fun, use guided play, etc..

This past weekend I had a student that we just went up and down the beginner lift for an hour.

The child was suprised when the lesson was over (too fast) When asked what was learned by the parent the response was "If I get lost look for the people with the red jackets and white cross on the back" then as an after thought, "oh we jumped up a lot"

For the most part I skied with a single pole and held it across and in front of this little "racer" and guided the way down. I lifted the pole up over the head. pushed the pole down to their knees, guided them around turns until they stopped by going up hill etc.. I explained why I made the child do these things. That it was to reinforce good movement patterns, extension, flexion and the idea that going up hill is an easier way to stop than braking wedges.

Great lesson and big smile on the kids face!

DC
post #6 of 18
- yes - considering that a full day lesson costs $100+ - I do expect improvement after every lesson. at the very least I expect a verbal and a written report about what my child does and does not do well, what are
potential areas of improvement.

- I certainly hate it - when i find out from my child later that there were 10 kids in the class and the "instructor" was just taking them around the mountain without "teaching" them anything.

- funny you should ask reg the weather - during christmas we were at whistler - and one day it was just miserable - freezing rain to the top of the mountain. i checked my kids in - as we had already booked their lessons. when I came out of the ski school - it was looking really bad - so I decided not to ski that day. Feeling extremely guilty that i sent my kids to school - I located the instructor and whispered in his ears - that I wouldn't mind it terribly if he decided to keep them indoors most of the time.
post #7 of 18
I forgot to add - that my kids are very social and they always have fun at ski school - so that has never really been an issue for me.
post #8 of 18
Do I expect progress at every lesson -- are we talking about a private or group lesson here? I think in a private for a kid still needing to learn a lot I'd expect to see progress. In a group -- no not everyday. The kids need mileage and sometimes what they get is inperceptable -- its building but you will not see a change. My kids had season passes to the group lessons and went every weekend -- so I think that changes my perspective. Each lesson wasn't such a big deal but was part of a process and fun (and gave us some adult ski time). As a regular in group lessons you certainly couldn't expect to see daily change - its more like a stair case -- flat then a leap to a new level, flat, leap etc. If someone expects daily change in a Saturday of a holiday weekend group lesson I think they are unrealistic (bigger groups, more crowded slopes makes it harder to learn on those peak Saturdays -- in my experience as a parent).

Miserable days - I skied in the rain Saturday and absent the first few runs it really wasn't bad. I was soaked but it wasn't cold. Not miserable but laughing about how wet we were. I don't think most kids would have had fun that day. My kids had ski team practice but everyone was prepared with appropriate wet weather gear and a good attitude. I doubt the typical ski school kid would have waterproof gear. The snow was nice and the open uncrowded slopes were pleasant.

With the weather on Sunday and Monday in the East -- bitter cold with wicked winds I have to question a lot of people that put their kids in lessons. For the regular skiers who have the right gear and the kids are used to the cold -- you could have fun with frequent breaks. However, in an average kids lesson group its pretty much hopeless. You know most kids will not be dressed right and someone will always be cold.

I'm sure after the rain Saturday (that many people sat out of) and some fresh snow in the AM all the parents wanted to ski. Many probably didn't realize how cold it was (no excuse though as you could just listen to the wind and know) and I guess payment/refund policy of the mountain would effect what parents do with lessons on bad weather days. Given how few adults I saw skiing those days I'd guess the parents didn't last long but left the kids in lessons anyway.


Always Skiing
post #9 of 18
I have two newbies (ages 4 & 7). They've both had two half-day lessons so far. Both are working on Pizza wedges and riding the rug.

Here are my expectations, in order of importance.

1. They are in a safe environment (I don't want you to lose them, abuse them, or let someone adbuct them).
2. They have fun, and want to come-back.

After that, anything else is pretty much gravy. It would be great to do some turns with them on an easy green run, I know that day will arrive -- sometime. If it happens next time-out, great. If not, that's fine too -- so long as 1 & 2 are being met.

At the risk of hijacking, how do ski schools control #1? Are the instructors/ day-care providers screened in any way????????
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.Skinny
At the risk of hijacking, how do ski schools control #1? Are the instructors/ day-care providers screened in any way????????
Very fair question and yes part of the lesson expectation.

I don't know how other resorts handle this but yes we are screened. We have to agree to a police background check to get hired in the ski school knowing that we will all have to teach kids at one point or another during a season.

This year at our resort we now require all kids that are in the half day or full day group programs get signed out of the learning center by a parent. Even if they are dropped off in the outdoor meeting area we require that they get picked up and signed out at our Children's learning building.

Also no adults are allowed in the children's area other than our staff.

DC
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by iskitoofast4u
There have been numerous threads in the instruction section that dealt with the expectations adults have for their own lessons. As a children's instructor, I'm interested in the expectations that parents have for their children's lessons.

So without further adieu,

- Should improvement be expected every time, at every level?

- Fun vs. Learning -- Is a lesson considered a bust if the child did not progress, yet still had fun?
I believe progress should be made avaery lesson. It couldbe improved skill, confidence or starting a smoother technique. Most of all it should be fun.


Quote:
- Weather/Conditions -- Are expectations lowered when Mother Nature fails to cooperate? When does a parent say no, it's too nasty out for ski school today? Are there conditions you'll send your kid out in that you won't ski in yourself?
Expectations are lowered. I will not make my kids ski in conditions that I would not ski in. Sub-zero wind chills are too cool, IMO, for my son(9), to be out in.

Quote:
The last question is of particular interest due to the adverse conditions we faced in the East over the MLK, Jr. holiday weekend. On Saturday it rained for several hours, with an overcast finish to the day. Despite this, the snow was soft, edgeable, and the air temps comfortable. Our ski school attendance was roughly 20% of what we should have had if conditions were better. Fast forward to Sunday, which saw 6" of new snow with temps hovering in the single digits. Windchills were well below zero. Ski school attendance, however, was robust.

Although I was not surprised, I was pretty aggravated by the number of parents on Sunday who complained that their child was spending too much time inside, i.e., not skiing and learning. I attribute the complaints to inexperience -- the majority came from parents of "never-evers", some of whom hadn't even bothered to properly dress their precious cargo for the extreme cold that day.
post #12 of 18
I'm only commenting about children of very young ages (less than 8). I really think the "fun" has to be the main component (in a safe environment). Just getting the exposure to the elements, equipment, being on their own (away from mom & dad), and more - they're bound to learn some things whether or not they're learning a new ski skill or not. I understand that in some ways it's really just glorified baby sitting service, but in the end if they're having fun then they'll want to come back.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noodler
I understand that in some ways it's really just glorified baby sitting service, but in the end if they're having fun then they'll want to come back.
The kids are pretty sharp about knowing when they've just been dumped in a glorified babysitting service, by the way. The parents have a big part in setting up their child's expectation that they'll have a fun day. I've seen a few too many kids who know that they just pretty much got dumped into class so that mom and dad can go ski.

Instructors can try their best to make it fun and exciting (as well as safe of course), but for the best results, the kids have to want to be there.

Otherwise save your money and trade off runs between mom and dad. There's a world of difference between "I want my mommy" and "I want my mommy to see how I ski!", and that is mostly how the parents prepare their child.
post #14 of 18
My $0.02 ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by iskitoofast4u
- Should improvement be expected every time, at every level?
Not necessarily! I expect my kids to learn something at each lesson, but not necessarily "improve" every time. Sometimes it's 2 steps forward and 1 step back

Quote:
Originally Posted by iskitoofast4u
- Fun vs. Learning -- Is a lesson considered a bust if the child did not progress, yet still had fun?
I consider it a bust if my kid didn't have fun (he's not going to ski for long if he's not having fun!), but I expect him to be taught!!

I don't mind hearing "Little Johnny was having a tough time today, so we went back to the bunny hill and just practiced some wedge turns".

But I don't like hearing "Little Johnny was having a tough time today, so I turned 'em loose and just let them play on the hill"

I'm paying $40 for a lift ticket so he can have fun. I'm paying $30 extra so he'll have some instruction.
post #15 of 18
What to expect as a parent? I am not sure but I will like for my daughter (8 yr) to improve every time she takes a lesson.

For example, my daugther has skied about 8 times in the span of 3 years. She can go down the local (Wash DC area) greens no problem. She is doing 'S' turns all the way down but she is not edging or controlling her speed very well. She has made U-turn stops before.

I plan to put her on a lesson pretty soon and I don't know if I am way off but I think she is ready to learn to edge a little bit and maybe make some sort of hockey stops. I think she is way past the pizza wedge stage as she does french fries very well.

Is it fair for me to expect that at her next lesson she learns to do hockey stops? Some sort of edging?

As a paying consumer and as somebody else mentioned before, $51 lift ticket, $60 private lesson (or $30 group), tip, etc, I expect her to see her skiing improve after laying out $111 (plus tip) for a day. Is that unreasonable?
post #16 of 18
Saturday on the East, I had a 3 person private which had 4 year old twins and the 7 year old sister. All had skied before. The needs of the twins were much different from that of the 7 year old. Riding the triple, I had the twins with me and had to find an instructor with only one other student to ride with the 7 year old. The twins made a lot of improvement and the 7 year old made some. I suggested to the parents that next time they have 2 private instructors, one for the twins and one for the 7 year old. Spending a little more money would yield greater returns for the kids, but a few $ less for the instructor.

RW
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the candid replies, guys. After reading through the entire thread, I realized the "real" question I had was one answered by Always Skiing.

I work in the children's program (3-7 year olds) at my mountain, and happen to be one of only a handful of instructors with LII certs, so I generally teach the "seasonal" kids. Most of these kids are advanced, i.e., all mountain skiers. Due to this, the amount of improvement from lesson to lesson is much more subtle than the progression from "never-ever" to being able to make controlled wedge turns, matching parallel turns, etc.

The question & ensuing thread came about due to the challenging conditions Mother Nature provided us with last weekend. Sunday saw 7 of my 8 top level kids sobbing uncontrollably in the liftline on run # 2 -- after we had gone in immediately at the top of the chair on run # 1. These kids rarely cry, but if they do, it's usually one or two with good reason. The domino effect almost never comes into play the way it does with the younger, less experienced kids. Seeing all but one of them crying told me something was not right, so we went back inside for the duration of the morning.

Rather than just sit down and allow them to run amok, I grabbed a plastic slalom gate, anchored it to the floor with two sandbags (don't ask!), and had the kids try to slide the length of the gate in their boots. Call it an into to park lesson, I guess...point is, I tried to come up with something to keep them learning while having fun at the same time. Not one of the parents had a problem with this at the end of the day, which got me thinking how less experienced parents would have reacted to this.

As I said before, thanks for the feedback guys!
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by iskitoofast4u

The question & ensuing thread came about due to the challenging conditions Mother Nature provided us with last weekend. Sunday saw 7 of my 8 top level kids sobbing uncontrollably in the liftline on run # 2 -- after we had gone in immediately at the top of the chair on run # 1. These kids rarely cry, but if they do, it's usually one or two with good reason. The domino effect almost never comes into play the way it does with the younger, less experienced kids. Seeing all but one of them crying told me something was not right, so we went back inside for the duration of the morning.

Rather than just sit down and allow them to run amok, I grabbed a plastic slalom gate, anchored it to the floor with two sandbags (don't ask!), and had the kids try to slide the length of the gate in their boots. Call it an into to park lesson, I guess...point is, I tried to come up with something to keep them learning while having fun at the same time. Not one of the parents had a problem with this at the end of the day, which got me thinking how less experienced parents would have reacted to this.
The weather on Sunday was downright brutal. I still marvel that parents would have their young kids out that day and expect any kind of learning to occur. The wind gusts were blowing my adult children all over, and they were in tears from the cold. It sounds like you made the best of a bad situation.
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