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POLL!! Ski Wee versus Private Lessons for Little Noobs

Poll Results: What to you think is the best bang for the buck for kids aged 6 or 7? They have each skied a very little, but enough to know how to walk around and manage the gear.

  • 78% (11)
    Two hours of Ski Wee for $60 is a better value than one hour one on one costing $50.
  • 0% (0)
    A one hour private lesson for $50 is a better value than two hours of Ski Wee for $60.
  • 21% (3)
    It depends on the kid. Some do better with other kids around, some learn better with individual attention.
14 Total Votes  
post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
What to you think is the best bang for the buck for kids aged 6 or 7?  They have their own gear. They have each skied a very little, but enough to know how to walk around and manage the gear.
post #2 of 17
If it were my class either way it would be two hours because it's two hours of time with them. The social aspect of learning together is more relaxing to the kids as opposed to one on one. I do well with kids one on one but it's even better when you have more time and in a group of six you can cycle them so the loss of personal attention is very little.
A decent instructor will keep them all busy doing what's best for them and put some mileage on the new movements. Don't forget to get suggestions for homework and a personal focus.

Edit. They still do Ski Wee or is that something from  Dad from his time instructing  ? Ski Wee was a franchise product some years back and i didn't think it still survived but in practice. I've read some of their stuff and it has some great teaching suggestions in it's instruction directives.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
"Ski Wee"= generic resort ski school run kids programs usually either half day 10-12:30 including lunch  or full day10-3

My family experience with this:
March of 2008
  • I took the kids out on the magic carpet run and took turns with them mostly between my legs some skiing backwards holding the tips. while the other one played in the snow, total time 2 hours.

Spring 2008
  • played with skis and boots in the back yard a couple of times. 

Fall 2008
  • played with skis and boots in the back yard a couple of times.

February 2009
  • Morning Ski Wee session for both:
  • Boy did OK but opted out of the afternoon session
  • Girl did 15 minutes on the slopes and the other two hours in the lodge drinking hot chocolate with an instructor

March 2009
  • Girl didn't want to go so I went with the boy. 
  • We skied together on the magic carpet run for an hour before the lesson then I dropped him off for the morning ski wee session.  I could see from the chairlift that he was pretty much skiing in his own using the magic carper while the instructor ran around picking up other kids.I dropped by to check on him after an hour and he said he wanted to go home  So we did.
December 2009
  • Girl says she doesn't want to go skiing, but likes to play with them in the yard.
  • Boy went and said he wanted me to be his instructor this time  We skied for awhile on the magic carpet run, took a run down a small lift served blue (together), then did a few runs over on the pull handle run that was a bit longer than the carpet hill.  He said he was tired so we went home after about two hours.  I tried to push for a break, food, hot chocolate, etc, but he just wanted to go.
  • He still needs an edgie wedgie, he's 40 pounds sopping wet, very close to being able to ski without the tips tied though, just now quite there
January 2010
  • Survey Says????

Edited by crgildart - 1/7/10 at 4:16pm
post #4 of 17
At that age, they'll have more fun in the "Ski Wee" class than 1-on-1.  When you're 6 or 7 it's about fun (and that includes social time with their peers!) not about technique.  Imagine your kid is watching a herd of other 6 y.o.s riding up the lift as a group or getting pulled along in the group sled as they head off to the bunny hill ... if they're 1-on-1 with a grown-up they think they're missing out!

When the kids are older (say 10-12) semi-privates are the way to go, imho.  Put an instructor with your kid and a friend or 2 and they'll bomb the mountain without knowing they're learning.  We often vacation with another family and dropping the kids into a semi-private billed as a "mountain tour" gets them out on the hill without their parents (nice for both kids and parents!) and takes them into trails or terrain they wouldn't explore on their own ... oh, and some coaching along the way.

Other options include recreational race leagues or dev programs ... your kid gets a season of coaching, fun with a well known group of friends and they develop pretty rapidly as skiers.

The *last* thing I would do is put your kid in another "class" ... it can come off as a chore, not a fun thing to do.
post #5 of 17
I may be biased as a product of SkiWee (was in it all day for once a week each year at Christmas time until I was 13 or so) and as an ex-SkiWee instructor once I'd "graduated" from SkiWee, but I am a big advocate for programs like SkiWee.

OldEasternSkier is right on the money about that age group needing to associate skiing with Fun Time. GarryZ is right about the time, as well...it's twice as long on the snow than the private lesson, and the kids need to get acclimatized to being on the snow for longer periods of time. I would add that the SkiWee setting also gives your children a chance to grow independently in a controlled setting–something a lot of children love. When I was teaching SkiWee, the kids who had the most fun were the ones whose parents who kissed them goodbye in the morning, disappeared during the day and entrusted them to my care and instruction, and came back at the end of the day all smiles to pick up their little ones. The kids who didn't have fun often had parents who watched the lesson (worst thing EVER for your child, and for the instructor), or whose parents seemed like they were relieved just to get rid of them.

The key here is that the kids picked up emotional cues VERY quickly and adroitly from their parents. If their parents acted like they were going to have a great time in the program and not to worry, it was likely that the child would go into the class with that kind of attitude. If the parent was worrying, or displaying negative behavior like coddling the child and checking up on the class every 15 minutes, the child would be attuned to that and realize that they could easily get out just by saying they've had enough. I don't think many parents even realized just how emotionally perceptive children can be. But most children are also emotional sponges; they'll follow your lead. Make it clear that this will be a positive experience and that they are to heed the authority of the instructor until you see them later, and they'll do so without hesitation. Most kids subconsciously desire structure, right?

The one thing that worries me is that your local SkiWee program is *only* two hours long. After seeing how difficult it's been for my friends to take up snow sports at an older age when lessons are only 1-2 hours long, and feeling frustrated myself when I've taken advanced lessons that are only 1.5 hours long, I'm a firm believer in at least 3 hours of instruction, if not the whole day.

I consider myself really lucky, in retrospect. While growing up, I only got 7 days of skiing a year, but they were full days, from 9-3 (with lunch and yummy pudding snack breaks!), with a fun group of kids and instructors who liked working with children. I think it would have taken me a lot longer to enjoy skiing as I do now if those days were shortened. And my unscientific theory gained more traction this past December at ESA Stowe. Since I graduated college in 2007 and had more time for skiing, I'd been frustrated about being stuck in the advanced/intermediate rut. One full day with Dan Egan at Stowe and he helped me clear that rut lickety split.

I'm sorry to hear that your program doesn't go all day, but it sounds like it might simply be a smaller program than the one I attended at Shawnee Mountain in PA. So I do recommend the SkiWee route, but I also recommend getting them as many hours in a group setting on the snow as they can stand (and enjoy!) Once they're in a group of similarly-aged kids who are having fun on the snow all day, they'll also want to be having fun on the snow all day.

Let us know what you end up deciding, and how your kids take to it! Good luck!
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
There are all day options.  We select morning half day on the assumption that we will book the afternoon session if the kids want to ski more.  However, they never make it through the morning session, or barely make it (experience from two different resorts in two different states).  I'm not going to pay for an all day lesson when they never make it past two hours.  Should I be forcing them to?  I don't think that will do anything to foster the idea that skiing is fun.
post #7 of 17
crgildart, Looks like your daughter does not want to ski, don't push her, maybe she would like to try snowboarding, if anything just to be different from her brother. The boy is 6 I'm assuming? At that age their muscles are almost there to hold a small wedge or steer their legs with out the need for edgie wedgie. If he is using edgie wedgie to just push out the tails and make a huge snowplow to control his speed he is going to get really tired fast. Does he turn each way or go straight downhill and plow to stop? If he is doing some type of turns under his control go with the group lessons and lots of mileage. If he is still plowing go for a private and get him one on one attention so he is not just making laps on a carpet while others are being attended to.If there are multiple weekend sessions available that is another great way for kids to learn, best way to me is a week long program, the increase in performance is huge.
post #8 of 17
I think you as a parent are the best one to decide which situation is best for your child.  Speaking from my personal experience with a 4 1/2 yr old who LOVES to ski here is what we did>  My  daughter loved to be in a group lesson last year and this year b/c she is very social and likes to ski with other kids (she prefers this even over us).  At her age the group lessons are very small and often her lessons are in groups of 2 - 3 so it is close to private instruction.  If the classes were large I'm not sure she would get the same level of instruction and have progressed as quickly as she has.  All kids are different in terms of how much they like to ski and like to be out in the cold.  My daughter loved the snow and winter from a very young age while my 2nd child (who is almost 2) does not like the snow and cold.  My 4 yr old loves skiing but is scared of the water and not a good swimmer (hates to have her face wet).  My point being is not all kids will like and excel at the activities we want them to.  So take the lead from your kids anddo what you think will best serve them.   Even though some kids are ready to learn to ski at a young age others are not.  Ask them what they want to do and respect their wishes if they don't want to ski or only want to do it for an hour or two.  It is so easy to compare our kids against others (including siblings) when we all know all kids are different and will progress and different rates and have different interests.  I am constantly having to remind myself about this with my two kids.  i have already been frustrated with my younger one not wanting to play in the snow (she whines the entire time we are outside) b/c I compare her to my older daughter who loved the snow at this age. I know I shouldn't compare and am working hard to not compare them.  Luckily my younger one has traits my older one does not and she is my little snuggle bug
post #9 of 17
My son was good with group lessons until age 7. Started at 3. Then he really wanted to ski with us. A short private is now a lot easier to talk him into.  I always tell him if he'd actually listen to me once and a while he wouldn't need the lessons. But he's 9 and stubborn.  Skis a little too fast for his skills. Though I think a little self preservation is sneaking in as he gets older. I don't have to fight him as much to slow him down this season.

The only group lessons he had were as Smugglers Notch and those were full day lessons for 3-5 days. He always wanted to stay with the other kids when the lessons were over. With the privates he seems to walk away with something new to practice. Which he will if I keep him on easier trails.
post #10 of 17
All day options are the best...no question about it.  Besides, if the kids advance rapidly they may end up with private lessons for the cost of a group lesson (no one else with their ability that day at the school).  Just remember:
1) If they are really little (2-5 yrs. old) they may tire.  Take a day off from skiing during the week and go tubing, see a museum, etc.
2) They like to ski with mommy and daddy too!  A couple days in ski school and a day with mom and dad worked well for us.
3) They will have more fun with other kids, at least most of the time.
4) A lot depends upon how strong their legs are.  My kids are big on martial arts, have strong legs, and learned quickly (and got lots of "private" group lessons as a result).  If your kids can go all day, go with the all day lesson. 
5) Don't forget to tip the instructors and perhaps the head of the ski school.  I can tell you from experience that it helps big time when requesting a particular instructor or having them work on a particular challenge.  For example, "The snow is fast today and little Johnny is starting to lay down some nice arcs.  Can you work with my little Johnny getting him forward a bit more when starting to carve turns and do a little less work on bumps?"  If you tip, the instructor will likely pay attention to your kid.
post #11 of 17
crgildart: how old were your kids? and what ski schools did you go to??

we have had very different experiences at beaver creek and breck with our girls ages 4/5 and then at ages 5/6 this season.

young kids, the first few times out are not pushed at all to ski. it is all about a positive experience, a little carpet time, playtime and getting used to the equipoment. putting the kids with patient experts is key to not ruining your kids by pressuring them and getting frustrated....

the learning curve is amazing at that age. if they like it, they will progress very quickly and within a few days on the slope they will be skiing the lift and carving up beginner runs. but it takes a little time. and of course a good ski school that has levels 1-4 at various age groups and that can move kids between levels day to day. 3-5 days of lessons in a row at a good school can get your 5yr old from never having skiied to a level 2 riding the lift...a few more days skiing and hopefully a couple more lessons and you will have a level 3/4 on your hands easily handling green runs....
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the excellent feedback folks.  Here's how it went down last weekend.  We arrived Friday night and decided not to make a big deal out of going to the resort, but just show up at the pace the kids dictated.  We got there at 9:30 and asked them if they wanted to:
A) ski
B) go tubing
C) go bowling with mom (or something else)

So the little girl says "I wanna ski!" so I head over to the ski school desk with her.  The boy was leaning towards tubing.  Unfortunately we got there too late so all classes were booked, and there weren't any instructors available for privates at all.  I got one adult ticket and one child ticket and headed back to our lodge campsite.  When we got back there the 7 year old boy says "I decided to ski today too".  I explained that there are no lessons available so everyone will ski with me today.  Since his little sis asked first and since I took him skiing last time I told him that she gets to go first.  He got her boots on and headed out.  We waddled around the flats for a few minutes and made some practice pizzas then got in the massive lift line.  It was how she would react to the lift that I most wanted to see.   I think that is what went wrong last year causing her to panic and bail out of the her last lesson altogether.  She LOVED riding the lift with daddy.  As expected I spent 40% of the slope time with her holding her from behind and the other 60% skiing backwards in front of her holding her tips most of the time.  Our velcro edgie wedgie bombed out so I made a mental note to grab the bungee with clamps version from the bag in the lodge later.  We got two full runs in on the green before we were both ready for a break (almost an hour and a half with the lines).

We went back to "Camp Lodgemom" and I had some water while the boy booted up.  I took him out the door and at the top of the stairs down to the ground (about 8 stairs) he starts panicking and whimpering that he wants me to carry him down there.  I wasn't about to carry a 7 year old crying kid down the stairs, but I'm far from a meanie too so I just got down to his level and talked him through negotiating the stairs in the ski boots   As we finished the bottom step and stood looking to see that our gear was still in the same place I left it..... it dawned on me that I LEFT THE FREAKIN EDGIE WEDGIE IN THE BAG back at Camp Lodgemom.  He was skiing mostly on his own with it last time so I stood and contemplated going back for it then just blew it off knowing that it was time for him to learn to ski without it. The first run was pretty much like skiing with his little sister, first holding him from behind between my legs for about the first quarter of the run then going switch and holding his boots then tips in a snowplow for the rest of the run-letting go for brief periods of time as he skied towards me then grabbing them when he started to get in to trouble. The slope was VERY crowded.  On the lift back up he saw an instructor taking some beginners through the terrain park doing a little slalom around the features.  He asked if he could go ski there and I said, sure thing, let's go for it.  I skied along side of him grabbing his jacket to give him a push to either side when needed.  I let him get a bit too far away and had to scramble a bit to prevent him from getting too close to a lift tower well.  He made some really great snowplows, along with some good near fall recoveries the rest of the way down turning left and right when I asked him to while giving him a little space. He ended the run with a super snowplow stop and said he was hungry.  It was then 12:35 and our morning half day session had ended so we trudged back in to the insanity of the lodge to discuss afternoon options.  They decided they would rather go bowling then ski more that day so we proceeded to de-boot, pack up our stuff, and go find a decent place to get lunch.  Being that this was MLK Saturday the mobs helped persuade us that we had enough skiing Saturday morning. We went to the shop and I let them pick out some stickers on the way out.

I had given them the choice of what THEY wanted to do and they chose skiing first!  Yay

And, the goals were surpassed:
6 year old girl conquered her phobia of the ski lifts.  The green triple wasn't very high at all thank God!
7 year old boy skied, turned both ways, and made good solid stops with no edgie wedgie.

Sunday it rained so we did other local tourist stuff around Asheville.

Monday morning they opted to head home and I stayed and shredded the place myself, no lines, nice sunny day, decent coverage too.  Good thing we took two cars

It all worked out for the best when I just quit trying to plan every little detail and slowed down to let them dictate some things.

Only problem now is that I'll probably have to manage two kids on the next day trip that I invite one of them on.  I guess we can just hang out over at the magic carpet run until they can both ski solo well enough that I can manage them both myself on a real green.  Fortunately, those trips usually involve leaving at 6 am so I am probably save for another year or two.  I may wrangle mom for one more trip this spring if they want to go again this year.

See you folks out there.  I'll probably be at Blue Knob for a couple hours Sunday February 21st.
post #13 of 17
glad to hear that it went well. you might to get a leash from kid-ski....it soooo much easier to ski behind them and be able to turn or stop them....between your legs really doesnt help them much and skiing backwards holding tips is good for about 2 mins....

the whole kid ski line from applerise sports is the bomb for young kids. we used it to ski our 3 and 4 yr olds from top to bottom in Colo....kids loved it and we felt safe. ditched the whole system at age 4/5....
post #14 of 17
We also used some of the same kid ski line mentioned above when our oldest was learning to just slide down with us and then ski on her own.  We didn't use all the pieces we got but several were very helpful and we plan to use them with our younger one as well.  Once our daughter started regular ski lessons we didn't need anything extra anymore (although we still use the handle for our piece of mind when riding the ski lift even though she can get off and on herself).
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
I think they're on the cusp of skiing on their own, boy definitely, girl maybe.  I've also heard of folks using a hula hoop.  Anybody else try that?

Next time we should be able to get them in lessons again.  Then, they will both be on their way to beat me to the lift
post #16 of 17
i have seen the hula hoop....it still doesnt get you far enough away from them, it messes up their center of gravity etc.....the only plus is being inexpensive.

i bought two complete kits from kid ski including the cheapie skis and used them for two seasons. i sold them on ebay for about 70% of what i paid for them....so the cost was pretty nominal.

the kid ski leashes are great b/c they allow you to be a good 5ft behind the kids and the straps can be used to stop them or turn them as needed - they turn them at the waist so it does not mess up their stance or balance much at all. and you can follow behind them with less fear of running over them if they fall. the harness is also nice for picking them up and holding them on the lift....
post #17 of 17
I would take them to the SkiWee-type next time.  Let them have fun with other kids and have a trained instructor.  Make a reservation this time and be sure to describe their level exactly so they get put in an "almost skiing on their own" group and not a "never ever" group.

BTW, "Ski Wee" was a franchise run by Ski Magazine.  It was a formula for running a kid's program and included pre-printed materials like progress cards, pennants for the kids to wear and such.  I believe they discontinued it about 10 years ago.  Most ski schools learned the formula and implemented their own kid's programs, many of with are almost identical to SkiWee except for the name.

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