VA nice. Thanks for sharing this. It was 22 years ago when I taught my first child to ski at age 4. Taking my 3 children skiing their first day are three of the most memorable days in my life. Skiing with my son and his future wife was another memorable day. Hopefully we will have a few more generations of skiers in the family
I found that having my young children wear their skis and boots the day before in the living room and teaching them the pizza pie in the house helped a lot.
Here is a weekly article that changes every week. I know the author who is a ski instructor. I am sure Rossie will not mind if I copy it here.http://www.belleayre.com/promotions/rosiesworld.htmMom! Dad! It’s supposed to be fun
(This is the first of a two part series devoted to kids & skiing)
We were a group of eight skiers ranging in age from 4 – 6 years old, with the exception of myself; I was 52. It was each child’s very first day riding the chairlift and making turns on green circle terrain. As we safely maneuvered this new terrain we looked for buried treasure hidden on the edges of the trails. Where small piles of snow collected we skied around them imagining that they were snow snakes. Our skis were in a large pizza (wedge) early in the day. The pizza became smaller and smaller over the course of the day until most of us were skiing French fries (parallel). In the morning each child told me what kind of pizza they were skiing. One had plain old cheese, another had pepperoni, another had a garbage pizza, I told them I had pineapple and chocolate chips on mine; they all laughed. The tone was set for the day.
Since most of the children were sitting way back on their skis I decided to hand out the plastic round disks that I had in my back pocket. I suggested that it was time we took a drive in our favorite cars; the disks simulated steering wheels and put their hands in positions I had been trying to have them maintain. Sam was driving a VW Beatle, I had a Hummer, and race cars were popular choices with the other children. Jay mentioned that he was low on gas so we stopped near a snow gun and simulated re-fueling the cars. In the distance other skiers could hear us honking our horns as we made our turns. During the next run we each choose a popular super hero, stretched our arms out in front and made believe we were preparing to fly away and fight crime.
After lunch I brought a guest speaker, his name was Charlie Mc Carthy (a ventriloquist dummy). We stopped on the trail a few times and Charlie told Sam and the other kids about skier safety. My childlike behavior could have appeared out of line with my age; it didn’t matter since the kids were having fun and they were learning without even knowing it.
Though I was responsible for eight young skiers all day, the only tantrum I saw was at 2pm. Joe’s mom wanted to take him out early to get a jump start on the drive home. Joe (a very well behaved 4 year old) had only been skiing for three days and was doing quite well on the green circle terrain. He was totally loving this new sport, hanging out with the other kids and the fact that he had just been promoted to a chairlift group. With hands flailing and feet kicking and stomping he told his mom “I don’t want to go with you, I want to go with her” (pointing to me). We felt badly for him as she carried him off to the car. I shouted over to him “hope to see ya next week”. I started to think about how we often put a damper on experiences for those that we care about.
Kids love adventure, learning new things, interacting with other Kids and just plan having fun. At times, our eagerness to see them succeed, move to the next level and master the next skill can cause them to feel stressed, unsuccessful and disillusioned about the sport. If we push too hard they may decide it’s not really what they want to do. Sometimes we forget about the fun factor, particularly out on the slopes. For days we tell our kids how great skiing will be, we relive our best sliding days, we show them our photos or trophies, we often want them to be just like us.
The night before the trip we spend hours planning, packing, making a chore out of what’s supposed to be recreation. Our anticipation is infectious; many times the children can’t sleep. We get them up at the crack of dawn, once again telling them how much fun it’s going to be. In an effort to keep to the schedule we sometimes forget to feed them and to remind them to utilize the bathroom prior to leaving.
Some of us use hand me downs. Lets face it, the costs add up and a penny saved can be utilized somewhere else on the trip. Often we cram our kids in clothing too tight, or pants that are falling off. To save a few bucks we often borrow a neighbor’s skis and boots, not bothering to have them properly fitted and checked out by a certified technician.
What do our kids envision the experience to be like? Sometimes they are tired, cold, hungry, wearing boots too large and socks too small, lots of clothes on, and a helmet crammed on their head. For a fleeting moment or two they may even wish they were home in bed. Sometimes our best intentions for a great family time together can be stressful. Our visions of our children riding and skiing all terrain on the mountain often become dulled by the realization that it takes a lot of patience, enthusiasm and caring to get to that level.
While doing a little research on google, I found a number of entries and chat spots where parents shared their frustrations about their first ski trip with a child. One parent admitted “my kids hate to ski, what should I do”? Another responded with “bury the munchkin in the snow (just like at the beach) and to come back and dig them out before frostbite occurs.” Another stated “a child should be put on a leash” while several admitted they always hire a babysitter, leave them home with grandma or “stick ‘em in Kidscamp”. I was flawed by all of it.
I’m no child psychologist, but I have worked with youth in adventure based programs most of my life. Whether it be facilitating on skis, bicycle, foot or kayak it’s all about fun, safety and learning. Often, we don’t realize how very important the initial experience is. Within the first minutes of the experience a child may form his/her opinion of the sport. Naturally, if it is a bad first experience a child may be hesitant or unwilling to even try it again. I say let’s just make it fun at first.
Forget about how fast you learned, or your other kids, or your friends’ kids.
Understand what is important to them and how to make them feel successful.
Never force them above their ability level & comfort zone.
In next week’s issue I’ll give some pointers to parents on how they can assist in providing a positive ski experience for their child. Hopefully these tips will help you get them off on the right foot for the start of a lifetime passion. I hope you’ll check it out. See you on the slopes; I’m easy to recognize I’m the fifty something year old kid having fun.
Any ideas, comments or suggestions? Please write me at:
PO Box 313
Highmount, NY 12441