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What Age Is Appropriate for Kids to Learn?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
I remember reading or hearing somewhere that Burton recommends starting kids at the age of 7, supposedly due to their physical growth and development. Our kids program will teach snowboarding to kids as young as 5; I've actually taught a handful of 4 year olds that were fantastic right out of the gate.

What do you guys think is the best minimum age? Does it differ from skiing? If so, should it?
post #2 of 31
I feel you need to take a few things into consideration when starting to teach young children to ski.

1. Do they weigh enough to correctly use the equipment?
2. Is this child mature enough both physically & mentally (ie.. ready to
take direction from someone else)
3. Check w/the resort you plan to visit if there are age restrictions,
most will accept 3 & 4 yr. olds
post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 
Powdermama,

Thanks for the reply, but my question is specifically tailored to teaching kids to snowboard.
post #4 of 31
http://www.concretedisciples.com/for...ge=0# msg4775

Here's a link to a parallel thread re: skateboarding. This thread also cites the AAP (pediatric docs) guidelines for skating, which imo are pretty cautious and recommend 5 as the absolute minimum.

I'll be teaching my kids to ride but don't otherwise teach. Kids develop at very different rates imo. My 4-year old, for instance, skateboards better than the 7-year old who's already a pretty good skier. I personally don't see many kids younger than 7-ish look like they're really having fun on a board. Some areas with extensive beginner terrain seem to report good success down to 5, but what I actually see generally are 5-year olds linking skids and falling a lot on this terrain. So, my answer would be 7 is a good rough-justice standard; if an athletic kid younger than 7 can already do related skills like riding a bike well without training wheels, skateboarding reasonably well, etc. then they may be a good exception if there's sufficient "mellow" acreage available AND they really want to try riding.
post #5 of 31
I've taught a 3 year old to "ride", but this pretty much was just pitch and catch, surfing straight down the hill. I've also had "success" using what I call "power assist" (riding side by side and controlling the student by holding on to their hips [or other other body parts] providing only as much support as necessary to remain upright or get the message across) to an advanced beginner 4 YO who did not have the strength to ride a steeper slope unassisted.

My resort used to accept 4 year olds in the kids camp program for riding, but last year raised the minimum age to 7. This year we're switching to Burton LTR and I'm wondering if we're going to lower the min age because that's what I see in Burton promo material. Last Sunday I went to an indoor training session with "Griz" where we specifically discussed the challenges of teaching <7 YO beginner riders. The main problems with young riders is that snowboarding requires lateral movement and ankle movement and that these skills are just developing at these ages (kids develop coordination from the core out and top down). Griz mentioned some adjustments that are possible (e.g. relying more on inclination to get the board on edge) and I'm waiting for the Burton LTR training to get more info on this topic. I'm excited and terrified at the same time about the prospects of applying new techniques for teaching tots to ride.

The problem with a minimum age below 7 is that some kids these ages have the skills and some don't. Without proactive planning and an ability to adapt to what the kids bring to the table, success is just as likely as dismal failure. I've found that you can have success with kids who don't yet have left/right skills or an ability to get extreme ankle angles, but it requires one on one teaching or multiple coaches per group in order to be successful and you must understand that not all kids this age are going to ride like the rest of us.

This is much much different than for skiers. Most 4 YO kids can ski without a strong sense of left/right or ankle flex. Most 7 YO kids have developed enough skills that they can learn to ride without any major adaptations required..
post #6 of 31
Another thing you have to take into account is spacial awareness. Are the kids aware of things going on behind them and in blind spots? My 5yo is just starting to be aware. But not enough so that I'll put him on a snowboard this year. He's on skis.

This awareness is very important for snowboarding as the heelside turn is blind. Kids have to be aware enough to know that there could be something there and they need to look first.

Joel
post #7 of 31

No Sooner Than Seven

I am new to this site. The Canadian Snowboard Federation recommends no sooner than age 7 since snowboarding is asymmetrical and will promote uneven physical development of one side of the body over the other if done too early. They recommend starting kids out on skis if earlier than 7.
post #8 of 31
bb,

That's the first that I've heard about something bad happening from starting too early. Most of what I've been exposed simply said young uns would be limited at what they were capable of doing as opposed to trying would cause "developmental damage". An interesting concept.
post #9 of 31
The "Vision 2020 Long Term Athlete Development Plan for Snowboarding in Canada" recommends:

"To offset the asymmetrical nature of snowboarding’s effect on bone and muscle growth, the Canadian Snowboard Federation recommends young children learn to ski before learning to snowboard at around 7 years of age."
post #10 of 31
I found the document boardboy is quoting from. Page 10.

http://www.albertasnowboarding.com/p...Vision2020.pdf
post #11 of 31
Well, I don't see the harm in waiting until 7; and one of the reasons I like to ride switch, in addition to peer pressure, is the balanced skills development, and I suppose what to me is a feeling may translate at a muscular and neurological level as well. But, if asymmetry is such a big concern, why not have them avoid golf, tennis and baseball as well? Not to mention writing? Switch penmanship required in the early grades to avoid developmental mishap? 'tis a quandary...
post #12 of 31
My mom started teaching me when I was 2, and I am ever so grateful.
Granted, she didn't really push me to learn at that age, she just got me out there and had me play in the snow with skis on a few days a year. It basically just makes kids equate skiing or snowboarding with having fun and playing in the snow.

As they get older, like 4 or 5, start taking them more days, and start actually trying to get them to learn how to ride. If you encourage them, but don't push them too hard, by the time they're 7, they'll allready be skiing any run on the mountain. Theres a young kid, I think 7 or 8 thats allready tearing up highlands bowl.

I think the most important thing is just to quit when they say they are tired or cold or bored or whatever. Make sure they are having fun, and they will want to do it again.


EDIT: just to clarify, I was speaking mostly about starting kids riding in general young, I think you might mean snowboarding more specifically, so uh, just ignore my post if its worthless.
post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by boardboy View Post
The "Vision 2020 Long Term Athlete Development Plan for Snowboarding in Canada" recommends:


"To offset the asymmetrical nature of snowboarding’s effect on bone and muscle growth, the Canadian Snowboard Federation recommends young children learn to ski before learning to snowboard at around 7 years of age."
Ok, the learning to ski before snowboard part makes tons of sense, but do you think this is say that you should teach the kid to ski at age 7, or teach em to ski, then start em snowboarding at age 7?
post #14 of 31
Learn to ski earlier, snowboard no sooner than 7.
post #15 of 31
My son began skiing at age 4, he is 5 now and can wedge down a blue run no problem. How hard will it be to transition to snowboarding in a couple of years? I know I tried snowboarding once and didn't like it much (20+ years skiing at the time, and it was ice conditions). Thanks, Dave
post #16 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpy_one View Post
My son began skiing at age 4, he is 5 now and can wedge down a blue run no problem. How hard will it be to transition to snowboarding in a couple of years? I know I tried snowboarding once and didn't like it much (20+ years skiing at the time, and it was ice conditions). Thanks, Dave
If you start him on a board at 7, and if he's of average size and athletic ability, he should be linking turns on green terrain by day 3 or 4. Depending on how often he gets out, he could be confidently riding intermediate stuff by the end of his first season. As with skiing (or anything, really), it comes down to practice.

In my case, after skiing for 18 years the transition to snowboarding was lightning fast. I started heelsliding within the first 200 yards, began linking shaky turns within half a run, and then became cocky, which led me to attempt to concuss myself all over the mountain for the rest of the day.

I was able to pick snowboarding up so quickly (just as others have, as well) for a few reasons: I was comfortable sliding on snow; I had 18 years of ingrained (skiing) muscle memory; and I'm athletic. I'm not sure young kids have the benefit of the muscle memory, but only because they haven't been around long enough. The other two reasons, however, certainly pertain to people of all ages.

FWIW, I never stopped skiing, either. Now I just have more toys, and can constantly rib my boss about how "versatile" I am! Start your little one on a board whenever you think he's ready, but encourage him to keep skiing as well.
post #17 of 31

Young guns...

I'm in the mists of a trial run with my 2 year old daughter. She currently has been out on both ski's and snowboard. My child of the athletic care free nature as just veiw either of the tools as "toys".

I feel that to get my child out on the snow, and playing safely...skiing for the most part is the primary focus. We will still most naturally keep "playing" on the snowboard.

I usually bring my childs skis when I place her in the "Children's Learning Center". The folks there prefer to have children at that age in particular on skis. If I wanted to have her snowboard, even at the good guy deal I'm shelling out extra scratch for more of a one on half day private session!

That's were my wife and I come in at the end of my childs session it's play time on the snow with either of the snow toys. Sometimes it's the skis and board, sometimes were just playing in the snow.

My point: Most certainly there are a number of valid thoughts raised in this post. I generally believe that it has to be for the most part on the individual child's development, As with Rusty, I have taught very young children to ride (well for the most part just to do a straight glide strapped in).

For most resorts to take a stance to teach kids at a set "age" in group mode...is not that big of an issue. If you want your child to learn to snowboard at a young age give it a try in a private lesson.


Jonah
post #18 of 31

What do you teach the very littlies on?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonah D. View Post
I'm in the mists of a trial run with my 2 year old daughter. She currently has been out on both ski's and snowboard.
I've been looking around at very small snowboards, from my 2 3/4 year old, but they all seem a bit big - bigger than skis for a similar age. So what are you using? I've seen a 2 year old on a modified snowskate (top plate only with home built straps/bindings). Is that your only option? I haven't seen anything commercially smaller than the 90cm Burton.

Cheers
post #19 of 31
Based on what I learned and observed, kids tend need to be a couple years older for snowboarding yielding the same competency as compared to skiing.

My young one who was 9yo last year was rated an expert skier for all terrains but to ride she was still working on (and struggling) linking her turns on a gentle run off. (granted she has skied for a lot longer). I observed something similar with her older sister when she was at the same age. Moving forward to the same time frame, 3 year later, she seemed to progress well whenever she got to ride.
post #20 of 31
My Dad put me into Alpine Meadows' Snow School at the age of 3.
post #21 of 31
We had Ty on skis at less than 2. Not so much to learn but the get them accustom to being on snow and involved. Lola asked me, "what if he doesn't like to ski?" I replied "Does a fish not like to swim? It's not a matter of like or dislike, it is what we do in the winter, he won't know any different". On that note, he really didn't get the muscle control till 6 or so.
post #22 of 31
Prickly Jr. started skiing at 3, started asking to learn to snowboard last year, at 4. I'm apparently going deaf, because I didn't hear him.
post #23 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post
Prickly Jr. started skiing at 3, started asking to learn to snowboard last year, at 4. I'm apparently going deaf, because I didn't hear him.
Let him try snowboarding..Twice, when there is a foot of fresh and when it is boilerplate ice. He will never ask again.
post #24 of 31
Boilerplate? We don't have that over here. Oh, yeah. We do.
post #25 of 31
I found the limiting thing to snowboarding was size (shoe size). I was going to start my daughter on the snowboard but they didn't make boots/boards small enough. Is that not an issue any more?
post #26 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by marge View Post
I found the limiting thing to snowboarding was size (shoe size). I was going to start my daughter on the snowboard but they didn't make boots/boards small enough. Is that not an issue any more?
How small? I had a pair of size toddle 11 boots once. Sold them on ebay.
post #27 of 31
Quote:
The Canadian Snowboard Federation recommends no sooner than age 7 since snowboarding is asymmetrical and will promote uneven physical development of one side of the body over the other if done too early. They recommend starting kids out on skis if earlier than 7.
This is a very good point, BoardBoy. I don't suppose it would matter much for the casual, less-than-a-week-per-season rider, but it's something to consider. For that matter, many very serious and accomplished adult riders I know have asymmetrical development, both muscularly and in range of motion and flexibility. Probably reversible for most adults, I suppose, but still something to pay attention to.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #28 of 31
I think its a touchy subject. If the child is really internally motivated and does not expect much right off the bat, younger than 7 is fine to try. Do your best to keep your expectations down and find the best fitting boots and equipment.

my .02
post #29 of 31
I taught all 3 of my boys to ski. The oldest at age 7 and the two youngers started at about 2.5.

While there is perhaps little harm in teaching them younger, I would argue there is also little advantage. The older boy was ripping it up in relatively short-order. The younger boys didn't really start ripping it up until they were about 7-8. In fact, my youngest, now 12, is still a weaker skier than either of his brothers were at age 10. I'm hoping that will change this year.

One other observation: The oldest learned on older straight skis that were on the long side - he learned to ski well very quickly. The middle boy got early "shaped" 90 cm Atomics. He learned to skate, but struggled to learn to carve. A ski instructor suggested I put him on straight skis, which I did on our next day out. At first, he could hardly stay up, but within a couple of days, he progressed an amazing amount.

AM.
post #30 of 31
Folks,

Let's remember that this is snowboarding we are talking about. Learning to ride is different than learning to ski. That's the point of the original post.
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