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Help with Toddlers please

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

We have had posts about kids and when to start them but there will always be the parent that thinks the kids are ready and put them in a ski school long before they are ready. This weekend I had a couple of kids that could barely stand up on their skis without falling over let alone slide or walk. I did my best and they only lasted about 35 min before wanting to quit. (having the parents there didn't help but that's a different problem) Looking for hints, Anyone.. Trying to avoid the Edgie wedgie but this might have been the time to have one in my pocket. Thoughts and what's the proper way to use them if you say yes..

post #2 of 25
Before I can help you, dchan, I need to ask a few questions.

What were the ages? How well could they walk without skis? Could they communicate with you? What sort of equipment were they on (was directional moleskin embedded in the bases)? Did you have any props for balance and support, such as a bamboo pole? What other props were available? Did you involve the parents as active participants in their child's experience (i.e., did you teach the parents how to help their child have an enjoyable experience)? What past motor experiences did you have to work with for positive transfer? How did they get up the hill (surface lift, magic carpet, chair lift, hiking)?

It is possible for kids under two to learn to ski in a very rudimentary and assisted fashion for short periods of time. Both my kids began messing around on skis at that age. They both were able to ski black diamonds by the age of 5 in a wedge (parallel on lesser slopes), were proficient on one ski at the age of 7, and racing at age 8.

We never used the hedgie-wedgie, the harness, or the muzzle on either.

Post script: at ages 15 and 17, they are more into basketball than skiing. My older daughter claims we burned her out on skiing by making her ski so much when she was young. No doubt I'll go down in the Mommie Dearest Hall of Fame. (For those of you without 17 year old daughters, I'll clue you in: all mothers of 17 year old daughters get nominated for the MDHoF, even if she's Mother Theresa.)

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 25, 2002 10:17 PM: Message edited 1 time, by nolobolono ]</font>
post #3 of 25
Nolo, you have made me feel like my decision to let my daughter be this year was the right one. I haven't pushed my daughter and have stood behind her when she wanted to back way off from racing and practicing this year. I just backed off and let skiing be just a social gathering event for her. She became a junior instructor this year and spent as much time in the hut yick yacking with other instructors just a year or two older than her as she spend on the slopes. She will be 15 in a month and if you are a young male you don't stand a chance if you don't ski. Skiing for her has changed into a social event. She uses her comp tickets to torture non skiing friends.
She didn't advance much this year but I don't care as long as she is happy. We are headed to Colorado for a week in a few days and I expect her to ski no more than three days.
post #4 of 25
dchan, its tough with the parents standing there because you don't feel as though you can just take the kids skis off and play in the snow for a bit without running a formal lesson.
The key here is to educate the parents as to what to expect from the lesson in advance. Parents who know what to expect are far more patient when they see the lesson, as described, unfold in front of them. As a parent I try to inform the parents of my student what to expect and how much a kid that age can take before things need to just be play. I try to get the message across to them that, at this childs age, this is really a glorified day care session without saying so. I encourge them to use their baby sitting dollars wisely and go have a break. I don't go quite as far as "hey lets throw snow balls at mom and dad" although the kid always has great fun doing so.
Kids that age like mix and match. Ok we are going to take two small runs and then play for five minutes, then take two more. Works for my back too.
post #5 of 25
dchan- I too would like to know the answers to nolo questions before making an educated answer but I will try anyway!

Need to find out what makes those kids tick? Is it rescue heros?, coloring? soccer? barney? What ever then create your lesson around that activity.

One of my favorite most succesfull lessons was auditing a class this one girl was crying and wanted her parents and did not want to ski etc... So we didn't. First we made little snow people at the bottom of the run then we decided we could draw BIG snow people (with our ski's of course). When the parents came back we were laughing and making round turns down the learning tow. She never knew we skied she was around 3 years old and a great kid we just needed to find her motivation. It is not that much different then adults it's just we need to look a little harder because the young ones can't always verbalize it. Of course many adults LIE so it can be just as challenging!!! Good luck.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
The children were 2 twins aged 4, and one girl aged 6. No real cross over skills the girl ice skated, The parents were also there for lessons (never ever)

The kids could walk ok in their boots but once the skis were on, (we did walking around, scooter, hopping with and without skis) they really needed a some help keeping the skis from crossing. no skins or scales on the skis.(thanks for the thought though I may have to look into something like that)

I did not have a support pole avail so I did the ski between the legs thing.

As the lesson progressed I gave the parents some exercises to work on while I took the kids one at a time for a glide down. no expectations except to have some fun and let them have the feeling of gliding. They wanted to "do it by themself" so I skied with them between my legs and let them try, catching them when they fell over.

We used the magic carpet. They kept looking over at the chair and saying they wanted to ride the chair. The little girl especially. This turned out to be a great motivator as I told her when she could get on and off the magic carpet by herself and make turns and stop, we could take a ride. It kept her focused on trying to learn. The 2 younger ones could not focus on these tasks but that's to be expected. The parents understood that this could be a problem so that part I wasn't worried about. We took a run or 2, and then the sort of took turns resting. Of course this cut into the parents chance to learn but they are the guest!

At the end we talked about what the parents could do with the kids to better prepare them for another trip to the snow and recommended that they take separate lessons or privates so the kids can have more individual attention.

The things I offered them for non/skiing activities were Wax the floor and do some running and sliding in socks, be aware of which foot they put forward and try to get them to switch side. Running around on slick floors in socks (circles both directions Roller skates or try a scooter(when they get a little older)
Small trampoline? maybe a wobble board?
Bring water and small snacks on the slope next time for the kids.

Thanks again.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 26, 2002 06:57 AM: Message edited 2 times, by dchan ]</font>
post #7 of 25
Todo's idea is great. using a lot of visuals is a good key. Kids' thinking is concrete, not abstract. They see the general, big picture, not details.

Level of maturity is a big factor. I had two brothers, one 4 and one 8. The 4 yr old took to the hill like gang busters and was doing well at the end of the lesson. The 8 yr old was a baby. Everythig was funny and a joke. No attention span no matter what i did to motivate him. Later, the 4 yr old saw me in the lunch room and gave me a big hug right in front of his grandparents and parents! The 8 yr old was at the table stuffing his face and couldn't care less.
Often, a lesson is just a baby sitting job so the parents can go do their thing for a while. Also, they will lie about their kid's age so they can get the kid into a group lesson and go relax for a bit. One parent's kid was refused to join a group lesson. She pleaded with me. I talked the ticket lady into it. The kid joined. the kid lasted about 10 minutes and was crying about falling or having to get up again. "It's too hard!" Mom was reluctant to come get her, wanting the father to get her but couldn't find dad. In other words, neither parent wanted to be bothered for 1.5 hours!!! Dad was finally found and he got her. This held the rest of the class back for 10 - 15 minutes - unfair. I gave the class an extra 15 minutes.
post #8 of 25
Pierre eh! I think you did the right thing with your daughter. My daughter (15) moved away from racing last year. This year she has skied with me, but not as much as in the past. I'm just glad she still goes with me occasionally. The pull of their peer group is very strong.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 27, 2002 08:57 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Lucky ]</font>
post #9 of 25
dchan, the lesson you describe is the teaching equivalent to a novice being dropped off at the top of a black diamond with a hearty "have at it!"

It sounds like you did a terrific job and I'll bet you learned a ton.

But it is alarming that the complexity of the task seems not to have been appreciated by the person who assigned you to the group. Don't they realize there are different degrees of difficulty in teaching beginner groups, or are all beginner groups considered the same?
post #10 of 25
Toddlers are no problem, as long as they are properly dosed.
post #11 of 25
Dchan, I cannot really offer you advice beyond the obvious (to me, and now) fact that regardless of age, the group should have been split...
From your original post and the following replies it looks you did a great job notwithstanding.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Post script: at ages 15 and 17, they are more into basketball than skiing. My older daughter claims we burned her out on skiing by making her ski so much when she was young. No doubt I'll go down in the Mommie Dearest Hall of Fame. (For those of you without 17 year old daughters, I'll clue you in: all mothers of 17 year old daughters get nominated for the MDHoF, even if she's Mother Theresa.)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Fathers too...
For the same reason, I'm not pushing the race thing at all, I put them on skis early enough, but I've always kept it at a "fun"
or recreational level.
They are still too young (5 1/2 and 6 1/2)
and one of my "secret fears" is the concretization of what has happened to you...
It may well be that your kids are just living the "rebellious" phase (assert their indipendence from the parents).
That's what I did, with my parents.
Mind you, I did not stop skiing, I lik(ed) it too much (and the fact I wasn't a racer helped), nevertheless I was doing my worst to
be a pain to my parents... [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
We all knew it was a not the best situation going in, Including the person that assigned the group to me. It was the "guest" that insisted. The person that told them they could stay together tried to talk them out of it too. The best thing I could do (and did) was to explain how this would slow down everyone in the group and then proceed. They seemed like they were interested in coming back and now that they know what to expect, I suspect they will drop the kids at the sugarbears to be with other kids, and take their own lessons. Maybe a private or two.

Back to the original question,

Progressions for toddlers with little lower body strength? I understand the try to relate on their level, just looking for more tricks to stuff in my bag.. and I'll have to get a pole for supporting them...
post #13 of 25
What do you consider to be the age range for toddlers? It might be more helpful to consider Piaget's classifications rather than those of the United Garment Workers. Your young students would be classed as pre-operational, with the six year old on the verge of concrete operations.

Pre-ops are building a foundation for interacting with the world: describing it, handling it, altering it, responding to it, etc. In terms of transfer, the things learned in this stage are the springboard for later learning. This is big stuff.

In building these basics, consider the animal. What is the primary motivation of all human beings from birth? Is it not to MOVE? Children move to learn and learn to move in one reflexive process.

As far as progressions, which seems a particularly well-chosen term with pre-ops, as it's all progress, I favor the use of landmarks and artificial targets, trails through the woods, and other reasons for going "there." Set a target and let the kid figure out how to get there, with your assistance (NOT interference).

Blow off the command style and stick with task, problem solving, and guided discovery (treasure hunts, expeditions, and fantasy quests are good tactics). Carry a supply of candies, stickers, and other rewards and treasure.

Kids allow their bodies to become noodles when they are bored. If they are caught up in the adventure, they will make their bodies work properly.

As a template, Zembo's Play, Drill, Adventure can't be beat.
post #14 of 25
Ohh... this topic makes me nervous as I contemplate how/when to introduce my 20 month old daughter to skiing (see excellent responses to my earlier post on this matter). I had a great conversation yesterday with a guy who has two children who are relatively accomplished racers in their late teens/early twenties. The beautiful thing about this is that his kids still really do love to ski. If a race is cancelled due to weather, the kids say "Great, a powder day!!" and spend the day skiing with the family. In his mind, the key to this was keeping it fun for his kids from day one. So, I guess I would echo the thoughts of nolobolono here. Keep it fun and geared to natural developmental stages. We don't need a bunch of 13 year old ski burn-outs...
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Those are great insights Nolo,
I hadn't really thought of it that way although I think I was going that way originally except that the parent's were part of the mix and they were "in the class to learn" too. If this happens again, I think I'll tell the parents what the pit falls are, give them tasks to work on and then take the kids for some runs. Then come back to the parents for more tasks, etc..

Thanks for the thoughts. It helps me a great deal as I continue on this road..

Any more, all you other instructors?
post #16 of 25

Sounds like you did great. Improvision and "go with the flow" are my motos for the little ones. The big test comes when they do not speak english. Then its all facial, body movement and voice tone. In short "body language" Thats the catch cry for all kids. They do cry and they do fall down BUT thier whole world is in short snippets that are not really joined together. i.e. screaming one minute, laughing the next. IMHO kids under 6 cannot ski all day. They can manage "before luch" and "after lunch" but not all day. Remember you are the instructor so the lesson focus and content is yours to facilitate for the client. The lesson focus and content can not be dictated by a third party. You just need to be polite about it.

post #17 of 25
Greetings Everyone,
Well I've been reading and lerning and enjoying alot of the posts here for a while. What a great forum. Anyway had to join in on this one as me and the rest of the gang at my mountain have probabley taught almost every little tyke and wee skier alive in this town this year!!! This week alone (Spring Break for us) I've had 5 two hour lessons with 1 to 6 of the little loves.

I consider a toddler age 1- 3ish. We don't sell lessons younger then age 3. We have our tykes program and it is for 3 and 4 year olds. Wee ski is 4, 5 and maybe 6. Anyway any one under 6 will start out on the magic carpet where we play lots get used to walking up the carpet. Straight runs down over and over playing lots of games. After first hour coco break. We always have a coco break. We start working on the wedge (we call it pizza) Usually after 2 times on the carpet sometimes 1 or 3 or more we take them to our surface lift. We will only take them there if they are showing a wedge or if we feel they are almost ready and have them one on one. What I've noticed is 3 year olds are preety tuff. They either get it or they don't or they know what to do sometimes. They are fun if they aren't whining and often are hard to break away from mom or dad. But with the parents co-operation and lots of fun most make it. Sometimes it takes a while to get off the carpet. Once they have their wedge and we can get them up the platter I like to play red light green light to make sure they can stop. Then I add in the yellow light and trick them in to turning. Anyway alot of the parents mean well but usually I like it better when they are gone. I to have a 13 year old ski racer who I am trying to lighten up on. He is fond of saying MOM I'M JUST NOT AS OBSESSED WITH SKIING AS YOU.
I took him up young but never pushed. At 8 he told me he wanted to joing Mighty Mites and I said o.k. I hope he sticks with it but I know it has to be for him. It sounds to me that you did the best you could in the situation dclan wow never ever parents and young kids yikes was your back sore.
Bye for now [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #18 of 25
Hey Nolobolono, don't worry about that MDHoF. I was once similiar to your daughter. Now, many many years later, I whisper "thank you" to my parents everytime I ski.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 28, 2002 12:00 AM: Message edited 1 time, by WhosThatGirl ]</font>
post #19 of 25
It's amazing the differences you get with kids. I've had problems with the 4 and 5 year olds, being unable to manipulate their skis and their limbs to move the skis or even to turn them inwards to make a wedge.

But then you have others; I had a 5 year old for 2 hours yesterday, who was tall, co-ordinated and very sensible, too. But they'd put him on skis that were right for his height, but not his age (kids ski school did that, not his parents), so he had the hugest backward lean, to hoik the fronts around. He had a terrible time pulling them up; they were like 200cm skis on a 5 foot tall lady.

I like the approach suggested by others, that you make it non=threatening by working in play activities sans skis. I've seen some little kids totally traumatised by the pressure they felt from their parents and teachers; I had a private with a little boy the other day who just refused to even try to wedge, having failed that day in ski school. He'd experienced failure, and now utterly refused to have anything to do with skiing.

Kids are odd that way, they pick up things you wouldn't expect them to, and other times they seem obtuse about the obvious.

They have to feel relaxed and happy about the situation, or else I get the impression the whole thing becomes like a nightmare to them. I think little tiny kids should be on the shortest skis possible, and it's important that their boots aren't too big and clumpy. There's some semi-soft ones we have for the 4 and 3 year olds, with sort of fabric uppers that seem to work quite well.

And for little kids, very short sessions of ski stuff are vital. Skiing's hard work for anybody, and these littlies just don't have the muscle or endurance for hours of ski stuff.
post #20 of 25
Ok this is what I have found that works.

1. Very young children must have fun or find it enjoyable or they won't want to do it again. Afterall we want to create "Happy Skiers." Skier readiness for want of a better idea...

2.So don't push it. If they are not ready... they are not ready. If they want to do something else or they are cold let them go inside, supervised of course.

3.Get rid of the parents [ by telling them this is now their free time to ski and enjoy themselves.] Let the little skiers learn with there peers. If the parent/s still insist on staying, then send them to the ski school director and give them a refund, and let them mess up thier children's skiing lives by trying to teach them.

Otherwise, kids adapt pretty well. If they don't, it is probably something beyond your control as an instructor. You are not responsible for anyone's psychological baggage, no matter what the age.
post #21 of 25
Thanks for the reassurance that the girls may ski once they get past the separation anxiety. Now if I can just get rid of this tic and stammer from the intense criticism I have been enjoying the past few years, we'll all be right as snow.
post #22 of 25

Relax, my wife and I have heard many horror stories about 15-17 year old daughters. It goes with the territor,so you are not alone.

Look forward to one day becoming a Grandmother, and perhaps one of the most "life affirming" things that you can look forward to is skiing with, and in your case,teaching your grandchildren to ski.

Once married with children, you will be amazed, in the eyes of your daughters, at how knowledgible you will have become in such a short time period.

They do grow up and become independent, and all we can hope for is that along the way, they make the right choices.

You sound like a good parent to me...but then I am one myself.
post #23 of 25
At Okemo, I saw they had this sort of merry-go-round thing with dangling Poma type handles on it. Clinging to the merry-go-round handles were about eight wee little "Maggie Simpsons" who seemed too young to stand still. Every time one of the instructors tried to start the thing, one fell, or one was turned backward, etc. It took what seemed like forever for an instructor to straighten all the kids out and have another go. Is this contraption for amusement or learning or both? Were these kids having fun? I couldn't quite tell. It never really made a full circle around successfully. Has anyone else seen this merry-go-round?
post #24 of 25
Yep! Our instructor put us on that for "comic relief".
post #25 of 25
Wink, my father used to say the greatest thing about University is that I'd get back home and realize how much my parents had learned since I'd been gone. Im looking forward to that day for my daughter.
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