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Tips for kids learning to ski?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm taking my son who's 5 skiing for the second time tomorrow (we went once last season). He'll be in a half day 'kids camp' that provides instruction, which is the same program he attended the first time around.

Anyway, his first day on the slopes went well, as he difinitely had fun and was able to keep good balance. He didn't really get the hang of turning or stopping. What's a good way to help him with this when he isn't in ski school? I tried to get him to wedge, but the concept seemed foreign to him, so I'm not even sure if that was taught on his first day.
post #2 of 18
I assume that he knew what you meant but just didn't know how to do it. For a 5 yo, if he wasn't taught to stop and turn on the first day, he really didn't have a good lesson. I would bring that up to the school's attention.
post #3 of 18
He was a 4-yr-old last year. Not all 4s have the leg muscles to maintain a wedge.

If he knows the alphabet, talk about making an "A" instead of a pizza. Or call it an arrow. The only place anyone points a pizza is into the mouth. But you can point an arrow anywhere.
post #4 of 18
After every lesson you should meet the instructor as he hands the kid off to you and discuss the lesson , his needs, what he does well and what you could work on in your time together out of lessons.

Your instructor should have talked you to if you were able to spend a moment to discuss his lesson. Next lesson , make time for this discussion.

It's impossible to know what he has learned since all kids are different and at five he could easily have needs to be met you can help with. Mileage is often the answer.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your replies. I will definitely talk with the instructors to get some feedback from them.
post #6 of 18
ski_steep, I've noticed that most kids, especially boys, especially at this age, love to ski fast down the slope. See if he is able to make a turn around an obstacle. If he is, and if he can stop at the end of the run, then just keep him on the green slopes until he is gets bored by the lack of new things to explore: speed and easy wavy bumps on green runs can only be fun to a degree. That's the right time to teach him turning.

With girls at 5, it is different: they are more on the side of caution and typically are more susceptible to riding pizza. Getting them to go on french fries becomes the labor of a season or two, but that's beside the point...
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexG View Post
ski_steep, I've noticed that most kids, especially boys, especially at this age, love to ski fast down the slope. See if he is able to make a turn around an obstacle. If he is, and if he can stop at the end of the run, then just keep him on the green slopes until he is gets bored by the lack of new things to explore: speed and easy wavy bumps on green runs can only be fun to a degree. That's the right time to teach him turning.

With girls at 5, it is different: they are more on the side of caution and typically are more susceptible to riding pizza. Getting them to go on french fries becomes the labor of a season or two, but that's beside the point...
I will take your advice and give that a shot. The first time we skied together I encouraged him to turn and tried to explain the wedge to him. But maybe you're right that all he wanted to do was go straight, especially since it was his first time.
post #8 of 18
Another thing that worked with my then-5-year-old (granted, a girl, not a boy, but still...) was the leash. It's an excellent tool to teach kids to turn. It puts into sequence the body position and the turn that happens as a result. After a few days on the leash, her body remembered the feeling of counterrotation in the hips, and when we took the leash off, she was making good "carved-pizza" turns around snowboarders sitting in her way and other objects.
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post
He was a 4-yr-old last year. Not all 4s have the leg muscles to maintain a wedge.
Oh yeah, I missed the last year lesson (thus 4 yo) part. Nonetheless, there should have been feedback from the instructor after the first lesson. The parents should not be at a loss no matter what.
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by chanwmr View Post
Oh yeah, I missed the last year lesson (thus 4 yo) part. Nonetheless, there should have been feedback from the instructor after the first lesson. The parents should not be at a loss no matter what.
The feedback is a dual responsibility. Parents have to be at the pickup point on time or slightly ahead of time in order to allow time for a report.
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post
The feedback is a dual responsibility. Parents have to be at the pickup point on time or slightly ahead of time in order to allow time for a report.
Yup. Learning and teaching is a partnership and having everybody working together is a cool thing for the student.
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well, I'm a little frustrated as I can't say that he really picked up anything new from yesterday's outing. I'm not sure whether to question the so called instructor's teaching ability, as they appeared to be no older than 21, or his own ability to get his skis into a wedge position, or maybe it's a combination. I wonder if maybe I should enroll him at ski school at another local hill?

Before I dropped him off, I emphasized the need for him to learn how to turn and stop. I did manage to spy in on the lesson without him knowing it, and they were trying to get him to wedge. We had a couple of runs together after, and I was trying to help him make pizza. What ends up happening is his skis become parallel and he just ends up building speed without knowing how to control it. He became frustrated and upset and I had to convince him to keep trying.

Maybe I'm expecting too much too soon? It's only his second day out. I'm such an avid skier myself so I'm eager to share this fun activity with him.
post #13 of 18
At 5 he can learn how to ski, but it sounds to me like you are expecting alot. Children will learn at their own pace. Find a hill with a nice gently sloped magic carpet and let him play there for as many weeks as it takes for him to be comfortable going up and down the gentle slope and learn to turn both directions. My first child (pre my b eing an instructor), i took out to a ski clinic at 2.5 years and thought the ski instructors were morons as after 8 weeks he couldn't ski. 2 years later when I started to teach I learned a little better. My first son never liked skiing, probably from my expectations early on and his inability to please us and knowing it, no matter how much we said it's okay. He heard us talking a bout the instructors etc. So be really careful

My second son, had the benefit of 3 years of teaching experience under my belt when I started him at 4.5 yrs. By then I had learned that children under 5 rarely actually learn to turn and ski and rarely hold what they learned from year to year if they do learn. So he played in the kinder ski play ground for 2 years (wooden figures and snow climbers on flat ground), until at 4.5 I decided I had kept him active enough to devleop the necessary muscle control (something I didn't do with the first) to learn how to turn and ski. He was also desperate to go up the hill with his now 7 year old brother and us. He learned to turn and ski in hour and loved it forever. His brother never got good, you could tell never really enjoyed it and at 10 we swtiched him to snow boarding.

So, make sure you son does lots of active play to build muscle and balance control. This would be climbing monkey bars at parks, lots of time up and down slides on his own, running and walking lots when you're out. Build his stamina and muscle control, it will make a huge difference to how long he can sustain the effort needed to learn to ski. A protein rich diet that helps build muscle would also help. Really skinny legged children (i know it's genetic typically), typically but not always, can be difficult to teach. Lack of muscle development being the culprit. They can learn, just takes a little more time as they have to learn to be gentle and finesse the skis to move them and can't rely on muscling their way out of situations. The same holds true for adults btw, work out, develop the leg muscles some prior to starting and it will make a difference.

For now, go play with your son at the hill, realize before you go that the patience you need is at least equal to the patience you needed to toilet train him and go only for a morning or afternoon and not on a day you will want to go ski. Go and just play with your son that day on the beginner hill. Ski for yourself another day, not that day and the effort you put in to making your son enjoy his time (lots of stops for hot chocolate to warm up), stopping and going home if your son wants to, so he knows he can say, i'm not into this today with no worry, will help him enjoy it and learn. The one on one time for your son will also go a long way.

Group lessons might be okay for him if he likes the social aspect. If he feels pressure as he's not doing as well as the other kids he may just hate it more. Never bribe him to stay on the hill, let him have a break and stop when he wants. It is wise to let someone else teach your child and if you did put him in lessons, i'm sure the hill would put him with a suitable instructor if he was still having difficulty over the group. I was often the instructor at my home resort who took the children and adults from group lessons when they had difficulty learning and did lessons with them for a couple weeks to catch them up to the group or in some cases, I just got to keep those having difficulty learning, and work with them for the rest of their 8 week program. Btw, they all learned how and caught up, I never had someone that just couldn't learn. So patience and time dedicated to your son, with no expectations and lots of cheering and high fives for small feats (wedges, accidental turns, etc), and lots of time running around in skis and walking up slight hills in skis (this teaches pressure control and balance really well), will have your son going in what will feel like no time and be less frustrating for you all and more fun when you get small gains.

Oh, one other helpful tip. When i taught my grand daughter 3 weeks ago, I brought her dad, my husband and me. We all took turns with her through the day after I gave her the basic lesson and got her turning. This way all of us got to ski and she got a fresh person to relax and have fun playing on the snow with. So if you can enlist a couple friends that like kids, do it.
post #14 of 18
edgie wedgies

set-screws with rubber bands to hold the tips together..
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lady_Salina View Post
At 5 he can learn how to ski, but it sounds to me like you are expecting alot. Children will learn at their own pace. Find a hill with a nice gently sloped magic carpet and let him play there for as many weeks as it takes for him to be comfortable going up and down the gentle slope and learn to turn both directions. My first child (pre my b eing an instructor), i took out to a ski clinic at 2.5 years and thought the ski instructors were morons as after 8 weeks he couldn't ski. 2 years later when I started to teach I learned a little better. My first son never liked skiing, probably from my expectations early on and his inability to please us and knowing it, no matter how much we said it's okay. He heard us talking a bout the instructors etc. So be really careful

My second son, had the benefit of 3 years of teaching experience under my belt when I started him at 4.5 yrs. By then I had learned that children under 5 rarely actually learn to turn and ski and rarely hold what they learned from year to year if they do learn. So he played in the kinder ski play ground for 2 years (wooden figures and snow climbers on flat ground), until at 4.5 I decided I had kept him active enough to devleop the necessary muscle control (something I didn't do with the first) to learn how to turn and ski. He was also desperate to go up the hill with his now 7 year old brother and us. He learned to turn and ski in hour and loved it forever. His brother never got good, you could tell never really enjoyed it and at 10 we swtiched him to snow boarding.

So, make sure you son does lots of active play to build muscle and balance control. This would be climbing monkey bars at parks, lots of time up and down slides on his own, running and walking lots when you're out. Build his stamina and muscle control, it will make a huge difference to how long he can sustain the effort needed to learn to ski. A protein rich diet that helps build muscle would also help. Really skinny legged children (i know it's genetic typically), typically but not always, can be difficult to teach. Lack of muscle development being the culprit. They can learn, just takes a little more time as they have to learn to be gentle and finesse the skis to move them and can't rely on muscling their way out of situations. The same holds true for adults btw, work out, develop the leg muscles some prior to starting and it will make a difference.

For now, go play with your son at the hill, realize before you go that the patience you need is at least equal to the patience you needed to toilet train him and go only for a morning or afternoon and not on a day you will want to go ski. Go and just play with your son that day on the beginner hill. Ski for yourself another day, not that day and the effort you put in to making your son enjoy his time (lots of stops for hot chocolate to warm up), stopping and going home if your son wants to, so he knows he can say, i'm not into this today with no worry, will help him enjoy it and learn. The one on one time for your son will also go a long way.

Group lessons might be okay for him if he likes the social aspect. If he feels pressure as he's not doing as well as the other kids he may just hate it more. Never bribe him to stay on the hill, let him have a break and stop when he wants. It is wise to let someone else teach your child and if you did put him in lessons, i'm sure the hill would put him with a suitable instructor if he was still having difficulty over the group. I was often the instructor at my home resort who took the children and adults from group lessons when they had difficulty learning and did lessons with them for a couple weeks to catch them up to the group or in some cases, I just got to keep those having difficulty learning, and work with them for the rest of their 8 week program. Btw, they all learned how and caught up, I never had someone that just couldn't learn. So patience and time dedicated to your son, with no expectations and lots of cheering and high fives for small feats (wedges, accidental turns, etc), and lots of time running around in skis and walking up slight hills in skis (this teaches pressure control and balance really well), will have your son going in what will feel like no time and be less frustrating for you all and more fun when you get small gains.

Oh, one other helpful tip. When i taught my grand daughter 3 weeks ago, I brought her dad, my husband and me. We all took turns with her through the day after I gave her the basic lesson and got her turning. This way all of us got to ski and she got a fresh person to relax and have fun playing on the snow with. So if you can enlist a couple friends that like kids, do it.
Thanks for your input, lady_Salina. I always thought that unless you are an instructor yourself to not try and teach someone how to ski. I suppose at this point though, since he's just starting out, I can at least help him with making a wedge and commit myself to spending a whole or half day with him.
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by docbrad66 View Post
edgie wedgies

set-screws with rubber bands to hold the tips together..
I second this idea. At his age he may not have the physical coordination to hold the wedge. The edgie wedgie takes care of that problem and lets him concentrate on other things. Its only a learning tool. Use it with caution, you don't want the child dependent on it. After a while he will learn how to do it himself. Keep an eye on what he is doing. Take it off ever now and then and see how he does. (Try this at the bottom of the hill where there is a run out. That way he won't get going too fast.)

See the following threads for some more ideas:

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=76685

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=72486

Above all keep it fun.
post #17 of 18
Ski steep,

I get many 3, 4, and 5 yos to hold a wedge, turn both ways and stop by turning. There are a few factors that can slow down the process. First, are the skis and boots matched to him? I like a 90 to 100 cm ski for children of that age. 90 is batter than 100 cm. The boots may be too large which causes the foot to slip forward in the boot and makes it impossible to balance over the ski, much less anything else.

Many children also can't figure out the difference between rotating the legs to form a wedge and tipping the skis on edge to do it, pulling the tips inward, pressing the knees together, or spreading the feet apart. This sounds like the case to me b/c his skis go back to straight after he starts sliding. There are simple and effective drills that teach leg rotation to form and hold the wedge, from there turning and stopping by turning comes very quickly.

Another factor that can greatly effect learning is the terrain. To first learn the wedge, the slope has to be very, very, shallow. If it is too steep for him, holding the wedge takes too much strength.

I suggest he take a private lesson from an instructor that is known for getting positive results with children's skiing. After mastering speed and direction control, he can ski with the children's groups.

Hope this is helpful to you

RW
post #18 of 18
Wedges are great and they have their purpose. BUT.....maybe sometimes TOO much focus is on the wedge and not enough focus is on Terrain (the flatest you can find where the kid still moves) and a true FOCUS...is the kid focused and does he/she want to be there.....kids this small and "generally" turn simply by reaching their body the way they want to head......This can enforce some bad skills later on, but at 5 and 6...its about fun too. Simply reaching at a distant point will cause the subtle rotation needed....use example like riding a bike.. Dont turn to fast or the bike will tip over...your kid will do a 180 or 360 or fall over. Too slow and they wont turn. We also put the kids hands on his knees and tell him to point his knees or boots where he wants to go. Then after the kid has skied 40-50 times and knows how to run straight and use turns to slow down....then start teaching carved turns. Show him/her how to bend their ankles on a straight run. Last winter I had five 6 yr olds carving up the hill....all had skied many times.


SHORT SKIS....at 5 maybe 85cm? 95 max. My carving 7yr olds this yr are on 100s. These kids are not skiing powder...they dont need float or speed.

If he is going too fast....I say get him on flatter terrain first.

My 2.5 yr old was following me as I skied backwards. At 3.5 this year....he says..."I can slow down by turning up hill" He learned this from biking down a hill this summer. Stopping is just the matter of skiing uphill until you stop....kids get this idea.


Having taught 100s of kids on the flats to do wedges.....use TINY wedges. If a big wedge develops...the kid natural tendancy is to lean back.....when they lean back, their tips come off the snow and no turn will develop....they try making a bigger wedge...its gets worse, and worse.

Tiny steps.....in another post I advised parents who have skis...put them on in the warm house...let the kid learn to walk with them...ALOT. Then take them to the hill. If they need to make a turn...the natural thing to do is simply STEP where they want to go. They will learn in their warm bedroom or livingroom to move the inside ski first so as to not trip....I have seen this in my own son...and others. It works. Make circles, fig 8s, have them chase you around in the warmth...they will do the same thing on snow.

JUMPS....again, teach them to jump in the home. Then jump on the slopes. I play follow the leader. We talk "big air". He gets 1" or 2". He cannot jump if he is not in balance. When he is in balance, turning is 1000 times easier than back on his heels. So we jump and then I make a turn to the left or right....I dont say a word.....he just follows. Less is more.

My 5 cents.
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