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Is this rude or normal for ski lessons? Keystone

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
My son just turned 7 years old and a level 7 skier. In the past I have taught him to ski and have had him in Breckenridge Bombers (7 week every saturday program with the same instructors/kids).

This year I got some discounted lessons from Keystone Colorado in a package of 4 lessons (I got a couple of these packages). It was going to be a little cheaper than Breckenridge Bombers.

Anyway. We've done 2 lessons so far. My son has really liked the instructors. They both seemed like nice enough guys. There were just a couple of things that bugged me. It could be just me though.

-At Breck, I knew who his instructor was when the day started. I could talk to them and find out where they might be for lunch and meet up, or watch them go down a few runs or something.
-At Keystone, you leave off your kids at 9am. There is a "no parents allowed" area in the back. They don't go on the lesson until 10am. So unless I wait outside, I have no idea who he is going with. Also, there is no way to find out when they will be down for lunch to meet up.

-On the first lesson, I actually waited outside and talked to them for a few minutes after lunch with the instructor. I asked if I could go up the lift and watch them go down a run. The instructor said "no" unless I wanted to do a private lesson. I ended up going to the lift at the same time and he did let me ride up the lift, and the instructor was friendly. I didn't watch them ski though, because it seemed like he didn't want me doing that. At the end of the day, the instructor talked to me and asked me about doing a private lesson or a specialty class or something.

-Today was the 2nd lesson. I looked for my son in the afternoon and didn't see him until he showed up at the end of the day with the instructor (different than the first lesson). The instructor showed up and told me how happy he was to ski with my son. Then proceeded to tell me how he would be happy to do private lessons and that they are discounted now. He can even help me get through lift lines at the resort or another Vail Corp resort.

I can't really afford to do these private lessons. The reason I purchased the discounted lessons was because I could afford them. I understand the instructors also need to make money and are trying to sell their services. I did tip the instructors afterward.

Is it normal for instructors to hock the Private lesson stuff? Is there any way to avoid this conversation? The first time I didn't mind. The 2nd time wasn't a big deal either. I'm just dreading that it will happen after every lesson (we have 6 left).

What about visiting for lunch or watching your kids ski in the lesson? Is that a normal thing for it to be taboo?
post #2 of 21
Sounds like he misread your request to share in your son's experience as a request for you to benefit from the lessons, or it could be that some places have policy restricting parental involvement in lessons for good reasons; not all parents are helpful with their presence. He could be trying to work around that and let you and your son be in the same lesson in order to satisfy your desire to share your son's experience. I will let the experienced instructors answer to that though. No doubt their answers are better than mine. In the meantime I wouldn't sweat it. Just say, "No thanks; I can't afford lessons." or just say "No thanks."
post #3 of 21
Trust your gut feeling ....
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
I figure some of it had to be policy. With all the "Parents not allowed" signs in certain areas. Just wondering if the other stuff is policy or the instructors.
post #5 of 21
Many resorts are hurting for lessons right now as I'm hearing it, and are likely pushing their instructors to sell. Privates are the highest margin lessons that they have, so upselling you to privates makes sense.

The "No Parents Allowed" policy is to keep well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) parents away from the kids during the teaching day so that they kids can learn more. I'm sure you're an exception, but many times parents can really get in the way of kids' learning, expecting more than is reasonable, pushing various agendas that aren't the most effective, and so on.
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdistefa View Post
Trust your gut feeling ....
Yep. There is quite a push in ski schools for instructors to push private lessons. the instructors are rewarded with more pay/bonsues for it, and they also acrue Brownie points. Some are quite comfy selling these, for others to shift from teacher to salesman is not comfortable.
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
The "No Parents Allowed" policy is to keep well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) parents away from the kids during the teaching day so that they kids can learn more. I'm sure you're an exception, but many times parents can really get in the way of kids' learning, expecting more than is reasonable, pushing various agendas that aren't the most effective, and so on.
From memory, the parent-free-zone out the back at Keystone is because some years ago, a non-custodial parent stole their kid at pick-up time and teh custodial parent raised a legal ruckus with the resort over it.

Now they have the kids in the corral, parents have to present their pick-up slip, and if they have lost it, there's quite a ritual to go through to determine that the parent is the "correct" parent.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
Many resorts are hurting for lessons right now as I'm hearing it, and are likely pushing their instructors to sell. Privates are the highest margin lessons that they have, so upselling you to privates makes sense.
Maybe, but depending on payscale, the instructor might make more money with a big group and a per-head. I think for me it's even. I think the resort probably makes MORE money on groups*. Sometimes I have a student that I would like to work with on his/her own. If I think they can benefit from it, I will ask, but it isn't something that I do every day.

*kids group at Stowe (weekend rate) = $145
private lesson (weekend rate) = $500
I get paid about the same either way, so the resort makes more than twice the money if I have an 8 person group. I don't think the $$$ incentive is there. They probably just like your kid and want to help him be a better skier.
post #9 of 21
Most instructors do a bit better on a REQUEST private than an assigned private, so it's in their best interest to "market themselves". They can also fill their day that way. It's also to the advantage of both the instructor and the student if they LIKE EACH OTHER! Slow or not, this is a standard practice. Most instructors really do care about the progress of their students and in almost all cases more can be accomplished in a private vs group lesson.

Most areas do not want a parent in sight of the kids once they are dropped off till the time they are picked up. It is a distraction to everybody involved and usually slows the childs progress. Go skiing and leave your son to the PRO. Your son already said he was having fun!
post #10 of 21
Vail Resorts reported that ski school sales are down 20% over last year. I suspect they are trying to fill the void. It must be tough to be a ski instructor especially this year.

Mike
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Ok.. that makes more sense. I understand now. Thanks for all the responses.

From my point of view, it doesn't make much sense in doing a private lesson, even if I could afford it. The number of kids in his level 7 skiing class has been 2, including my son. So it is almost like a private lesson anyway.

I would probably be more inclined to do a private lesson if I had 3 or 4 kids, and had the money to do lessons.
post #12 of 21
For an instr to deny a parent the ability to observe a child's progress by watching them ski a run or two is unusual. Provided the parent is not intruding into the lesson, there should be no objection.

While some very young children will begin to act up as soon as the parent is within view, yours is at an age and ability where parental proximity should not create such an issue.

If your child's instr continues to deny such access, you should speak with a supervisor immediately. Many times the instr is merely going through the motions of a "lesson", but the child is not getting the appropriate attention. For the parent to observe this situation would be an embarassment to the instr, therefore the restriction is placed by the instr, not by Ski School policy.

As far as the upsale to a pvt lesson, the comments have been correct that the instr will often make additional $$ for a request. It is also an easier day for the instr, dealing with a single child and adult, vs. multiple children. So it is understandable that they are trying to upsale. (and yes, Vail Resorts is putting a great deal of emphasis on upsaling these days!)

Given the current size of the groups your child is in, why would anyone wish to expend that much more $$$ for a pvt?
post #13 of 21
VSP speaks the truth, on all counts.

And the pressure on instructors to flog request privates is considerable. I could tell you the incentives at Keystone, but I won't. Last hill I taught at, I commented to a supervisor that I liked and respected that I do not sell, and teh horror of his reaction told me it was finally time to head back to the office.
post #14 of 21
I work our 3 hour snow monsters program 2 shifts a weekend and holidays. Little as we are I have a number of problems with parents trying to share/help in the lesson. We ask that they watch from a discrete distance for the kids sake. Only once have I suggested a parent buy a private with his son. That was because he expected a 5y.o. with fear to be ready to ski with him in Colorado after 4 lessons. He needed to see the child's limitations.
Certainly not above grabbing a private when I can esp. a child too young for snow monsters. Best bet for the parents (and I tell them so) is the kids program if they will let the child proceed at kid speed. BTW our area solved the decreased business by cutting our minimal pay 31% and removing the tips allowed on information sheets. Lucky so many of us love doing this since it went from a loss to near charity work.
post #15 of 21
On the subject of Keystone trying to get a little more money out of lessons. I gave my wife the weekend Betty Clinic at Keystone. Two full days skiing with their best women instructors. This week she gets a call from ski school. They are trying to figure out what level everyone skis at. After a short discussion she's told that she'll be in the all mountain group and to be sure to bring a bunch of $5 bills for the snow cat. Maybe I'm being cheap but to me if a class takes the cat it ought to be on them. Oh well, I guess they're all hurting.
post #16 of 21
Hi everyone--just now reading this thread for the first time. Thanks for sharing your concerns, Mogulman1, and thanks to everyone who has replied as well.

It is true that parents can--and usually do--have a very distracting impact on a child in a lesson, often affecting the entire group. For obvious reasons, it's hard to keep a child's attention when his or her parents are there waving at him! Instructors and children must build a relationship of trust, friendship, and communication, and that requires that the student focus on the instructor--not his parents. Many children go through brief (usually) "separation anxiety" each and every time their parents disappear from sight. It's something instructors are trained to deal with, but it takes energy, patience, and valuable time away from the lesson for the child--and all the others in the group. It is similar to any school class, I suppose. Like most resorts, at Keystone we strongly encourage parents to make themselves "invisible" when observing their children's class, so as not to distract.

We do, however, encourage interested parents to observe from the sidelines if they would like, while remaining sensitive to the problems that their presence can cause.

In any case, instructors are generally willing and eager to discuss your child's experience and learning with you after the lesson. Don't hesitate to pick their brains, ask questions, and seek suggestions from them when you pick your child up at the end of the day. And many, if not most, children's lessons do end early enough to allow you to take a run with your child, giving him (or her) a chance to show off what he's learned. That can be a fun and rewarding way to end a ski day, for all concerned!

And we do offer at Keystone a somewhat unusual private lesson we call "Mom, Dad, and Me," that is specifically designed to allow parents to participate in their child's learning, and to gain insight into how they might augment and continue the learning after the lesson. Because it is a private lesson, there is no problem with disrupting others in a class, and it can be a very fun way for parents and children to share in the skiing experience while the child gets first-rate professional instruction. I suspect that apprising you of the availability of this special product that might well serve your particular needs was all that your child's instructors were trying to do. Yes, you can be sure that they'd also love to be the instructor you requested if you did choose to sign up. But I hope that their suggestions were more informational than pushy, more helpful than hard-core sales pitches. And you can be sure, too, that they are aware that private lessons are expensive. They will not be offended if you choose not to take them up on it. But would they not be remiss if they failed to make you aware of this opportunity that might be exactly what you want?

That's not "salesmanship," Ant, at least not in any of the negative contexts of the term. It's just good education and service to let people know what their opportunities are. Yes, it is also good for the instructor when people request their services, but that's what professionals do in any walk of life, no? (Not that some instructors don't ever take it to a negative "pushy," highly unprofessional level--something to which I completely share your objection.)

As far as the "no parents beyond this point" signs in the Kids' Ski & Ride School building, I think you'll find that that is pretty standard procedure at most resorts these days. Beyond the distraction problem, there are just too many other liability issues involved to allow non-authorized people into an area where children's safety is paramount. It is an area restricted to the public for many obvious reasons. Resorts take enormous pains to hire, educate, and supervise children's instructors to be safe, aware, and responsible. They'll generally be happy to bring your child out to see you if you ask--but again, they'll often suggest that it might be better not to distract. Please consider that it is a challenge for instructors to deal with "separation anxiety" once, so causing them to need to do it again can be asking a lot!

I hope that these thoughts make sense, and that in retrospect, you feel that your experience shows that the instructors were only acting in your best interest, and that of your child. But I would be very happy to discuss the specifics of your time at Keystone any time. Please don't hesitate to PM me....

Thanks again, Mogulman1!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes (Training Manager, Keystone Ski & Ride School)
post #17 of 21
^ That about sums it up, and quite eloquently, to boot!
post #18 of 21
One other thing to consider. At Breckenridge you were in an all season program, same kids, same instructor for 7 weeks so everyone gets to know and work with everyone else. A good instructor will work with all the kids and parents to establish ground rules early on so all can get the most out of each day.

Now you are (probably) in a series of one off groups. If the instructor has to establish the ground rules with every parent, every session while trying to meld all the kids into a group he's losing time he could be teaching your kid.

Where I work the kids and parents have the opportunity to ski together at some point nearly every day of the seasonal programs, but for groups we'll point out places where parents can discreetly watch group lessons.

You have chosen, for valid reasons, to purchase a different product this season. The instructors are, for valid reasons, treating you differently.
post #19 of 21
If I had somebody offer me or my kid "private lessons" multiple times, even though I could not watch my kid from the sidelines, persay, my reply would be on the second offering of "discounted private lessons" in a smart ass somewhat of a "your irritating me way" of "Sure, I'll take some Free private lessons from you."
If he doesn't get the hint, then he's obviously dumb.

But everyone here is right. Parents can be a distraction from learning. Kids don't usually like it much, or might want to show off instead of learning for their parent. But there should be no reason you can't meet up with him for lunch, specially if you have the "pick up" slip they were referring to. With as many bad things that happens now days with kids, the parents should have a bit better observation of what is going on when their kids are getting a lesson of the sorts.
It is not unusual for a parent to be able to watch their children practice basketball or wrestling, etc, why not learning to ski?
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by vail snopro View Post
For an instr to deny a parent the ability to observe a child's progress by watching them ski a run or two is unusual. Provided the parent is not intruding into the lesson, there should be no objection.

While some very young children will begin to act up as soon as the parent is within view, yours is at an age and ability where parental proximity should not create such an issue.
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueriverwillow View Post
I have a number of problems with parents trying to share/help in the lesson. We ask that they watch from a discrete distance for the kids sake.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
It is true that parents can--and usually do--have a very distracting impact on a child in a lesson, often affecting the entire group. For obvious reasons, it's hard to keep a child's attention when his or her parents are there waving at him! Instructors and children must build a relationship of trust, friendship, and communication, and that requires that the student focus on the instructor--not his parents. Many children go through brief (usually) "separation anxiety" each and every time their parents disappear from sight. It's something instructors are trained to deal with, but it takes energy, patience, and valuable time away from the lesson for the child--and all the others in the group. It is similar to any school class, I suppose. Like most resorts, at Keystone we strongly encourage parents to make themselves "invisible" when observing their children's class, so as not to distract.

We do, however, encourage interested parents to observe from the sidelines if they would like, while remaining sensitive to the problems that their presence can cause.

And we do offer at Keystone a somewhat unusual private lesson we call "Mom, Dad, and Me," that is specifically designed to allow parents to participate in their child's learning, and to gain insight into how they might augment and continue the learning after the lesson. Because it is a private lesson, there is no problem with disrupting others in a class, and it can be a very fun way for parents and children to share in the skiing experience while the child gets first-rate professional instruction. I suspect that apprising you of the availability of this special product that might well serve your particular needs was all that your child's instructors were trying to do.

As far as the "no parents beyond this point" signs in the Kids' Ski & Ride School building, I think you'll find that that is pretty standard procedure at most resorts these days.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave W View Post
One other thing to consider. At Breckenridge you were in an all season program, same kids, same instructor for 7 weeks so everyone gets to know and work with everyone else. A good instructor will work with all the kids and parents to establish ground rules early on so all can get the most out of each day.

Now you are (probably) in a series of one off groups. If the instructor has to establish the ground rules with every parent, every session while trying to meld all the kids into a group he's losing time he could be teaching your kid.

You have chosen, for valid reasons, to purchase a different product this season. The instructors are, for valid reasons, treating you differently.
You do have to use your gut instinct here. Is the instructor selling something, informing you of something, trying to keep you away from you child or just following common sense rules set by the ski area ? I do know the "daddy/mommy & child" private lessons are very new and parents are gradually learning about it from websites or instructors informing.

As a parent, having chosen at different times, either lessons or season long program, I find all the quoted comments valid and valuable enough to re-iterate. There are other points that have not been addressed as well. Ski Lessons are a classroom, even while recreating on the mountain. What does your private or public school require when a parent is in the classroom or observes a class ? Does the parent join in, participate, help, or just invisibly grade papers with open ears/eyes ? Is the parent suitable to be in the classroom with other peoples children ? Ski schools have the same considerations.

I'll give 2 examples, of many I've observed, which help make sense of parent free zone rules. #1 - The class comes off a run heading to a lift requiring them to pass by the lodge. A non-skiing mother steps into their path causing them to halt on the flats. She spends the time to introduce herself to the instructor, identifies which kid of 6 in the class is hers, goes into whatever issues/concerns she has. She broke up the rhythm of the class, the kids are distracted & starting snowball fights, the instructor nods her off and has to get the class back together, then shuffle them (on the flats from a stop) over and across to the lift. I wasn't happy to see 10 or so minutes I've paid for spent like this. Can't blame the instructor for the interruption in the flow of the lesson, just the inconsiderate parent that made it all about her.

2 - I heard all about it from my kid. The parent that joined my son's lesson on slope. The insuing parent/child argument turned whiny then ugly that the entire class was put through. Drama drama drama. My kid was totally embarrassed by the behavior he was forced to stand and witness with no escape. Good, bad ? The next time he wanted to argue about something (I think?) I saw him shut his mouth & just move on. It had an impact that I can only hope was a good one ? But it wasn't good for the class or for learning to ski. Matter fact I never did hear from him what he learned or enjoyed that day. It was all about the "scene" that occurred. What am I paying to subject my child to ? I'm not there and I've trusted the Ski school and their common sense rules to determine the learning environment. Parental interference because a parent has a lack of self control and judgement, but craves/demands involvement with their child's skiing experience/learning, yet my child is also involved without my consent ? By virtue of being in the same group.

Things for involved parents, before trying to involve themselves in a class, to think about for sure. It can create a shift, for good or bad and not just for your child.

I can say I have often "taken an invited run" or lift ride with my son's class each ski day. Whether a day class or part of the season program. It's simple and you wave goodbye during or at the end, depending. With smiles. I've been waved over on a run to join the back of the pack (linebacker position ?) and if my kid gets chatty or distracted I wave goodbye & ski off to another run. If I'm on a lift and see them heading to load, I'll wait at the top and will ski down with them, then load the lift with part of the group as an accompanying adult. If it's at the end of the day, I'll take the last run WITH them even if the instructor offers to release him early. I don't want to have the class rhythm broken up on the last run by receiving the parental update of what was covered, progress made, etc. That would be robbing the other children of their instructor's attention unneccessarily. I'll take it at the same place, same time, at regular pick up.

My point in posting and supporting the parent free zone is to bring up what many parent's forget. It's about honoring the children and their learning. The environment they are learning in. If a parent has the type of relationship or the child is at a stage where a momentary run is not distracting or interferring, awesome. If the parent is capable of keeping quiet, subtle, observing, leaving, and not robbing the children of their instructor's time or the class of it's teamwork, there are ways of doing this. Supporting but not interfering.
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by 911over View Post
You do have to use your gut instinct here. Is the instructor selling something, informing you of something, trying to keep you away from you child or just following common sense rules set by the ski area ? I do know the "daddy/mommy & child" private lessons are very new and parents are gradually learning about it from websites or instructors informing.

As a parent, having chosen at different times, either lessons or season long program, I find all the quoted comments valid and valuable enough to re-iterate. There are other points that have not been addressed as well. Ski Lessons are a classroom, even while recreating on the mountain. What does your private or public school require when a parent is in the classroom or observes a class ? Does the parent join in, participate, help, or just invisibly grade papers with open ears/eyes ? Is the parent suitable to be in the classroom with other peoples children ? Ski schools have the same considerations.

I'll give 2 examples, of many I've observed, which help make sense of parent free zone rules. #1 - The class comes off a run heading to a lift requiring them to pass by the lodge. A non-skiing mother steps into their path causing them to halt on the flats. She spends the time to introduce herself to the instructor, identifies which kid of 6 in the class is hers, goes into whatever issues/concerns she has. She broke up the rhythm of the class, the kids are distracted & starting snowball fights, the instructor nods her off and has to get the class back together, then shuffle them (on the flats from a stop) over and across to the lift. I wasn't happy to see 10 or so minutes I've paid for spent like this. Can't blame the instructor for the interruption in the flow of the lesson, just the inconsiderate parent that made it all about her.

2 - I heard all about it from my kid. The parent that joined my son's lesson on slope. The insuing parent/child argument turned whiny then ugly that the entire class was put through. Drama drama drama. My kid was totally embarrassed by the behavior he was forced to stand and witness with no escape. Good, bad ? The next time he wanted to argue about something (I think?) I saw him shut his mouth & just move on. It had an impact that I can only hope was a good one ? But it wasn't good for the class or for learning to ski. Matter fact I never did hear from him what he learned or enjoyed that day. It was all about the "scene" that occurred. What am I paying to subject my child to ? I'm not there and I've trusted the Ski school and their common sense rules to determine the learning environment. Parental interference because a parent has a lack of self control and judgement, but craves/demands involvement with their child's skiing experience/learning, yet my child is also involved without my consent ? By virtue of being in the same group.

Things for involved parents, before trying to involve themselves in a class, to think about for sure. It can create a shift, for good or bad and not just for your child.

I can say I have often "taken an invited run" or lift ride with my son's class each ski day. Whether a day class or part of the season program. It's simple and you wave goodbye during or at the end, depending. With smiles. I've been waved over on a run to join the back of the pack (linebacker position ?) and if my kid gets chatty or distracted I wave goodbye & ski off to another run. If I'm on a lift and see them heading to load, I'll wait at the top and will ski down with them, then load the lift with part of the group as an accompanying adult. If it's at the end of the day, I'll take the last run WITH them even if the instructor offers to release him early. I don't want to have the class rhythm broken up on the last run by receiving the parental update of what was covered, progress made, etc. That would be robbing the other children of their instructor's attention unneccessarily. I'll take it at the same place, same time, at regular pick up.

My point in posting and supporting the parent free zone is to bring up what many parent's forget. It's about honoring the children and their learning. The environment they are learning in. If a parent has the type of relationship or the child is at a stage where a momentary run is not distracting or interferring, awesome. If the parent is capable of keeping quiet, subtle, observing, leaving, and not robbing the children of their instructor's time or the class of it's teamwork, there are ways of doing this. Supporting but not interfering.
X2 on this. I don't think it could be said better.
Parents do really do that freak out thing, I can still say this, cause I'm only 26. It is bad for kids, they will step in to tell somebody how to do things, or why they are upset about things when they have no clue! Who cares how long you have skied, the instructor does not, your not getting paid to teach the class, he is. So butt out.

It would be great if there were more parents with your attitude!!!
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