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Teaching Kids vs Teaching Adults...

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I am interested to view the opinions of the experienced instructors here.

This season I will be working at DV. When I tell people that I have an instructing job this summer they think it is great, yet when I say with kids ski school they often temper their enthusiasm. For some reason they think that teaching kids would be harder than teaching adults.

Personally I think that most of the time it would be easier teaching kids than adults who are just starting out.

The reason for this is that kids don't have the fear about getting hurt. I remember when I was a little kid learning to ski and not having any fear what so ever. I think that most adults would be quite tentative skiers when first starting.

Any thoughts?
post #2 of 18
What's easy or hard depends on the person doing the job. I know instructors who find teaching children one of the seven circles of hell, and others who say the same about teaching adults.

I can honestly say that I enjoy teaching all populations except the lazy, the disinterested, and the smug.
post #3 of 18
Seth- Do you have any kids yourself? It's a big plus to have some experience with children. If you don't , do some babysitting for at least a couple of hours so you can get an idea.
At my ski school , kid's instructors get an extra hour of pay plus lunch. They also aways seem to be busy, so you will work while adult instructors may be waiting for the next lesson to show up. Kids can be a lot of fun, and that's really all you have to do with them , have fun. But they also tire and bore easily ( when you're trying to "teach "them ) so it takes a lot of patience. It is also a big responsiblity to keep them safe, crowded slopes with heavy traffic can be very scarey ! You also have to deal with the occasional 'grouchy parent' but most are happy when their kid is happy and the tips can be pretty good. It is a great experience if you have the personality for it, I say go for it!
post #4 of 18
I agree with Nolo. Most instructors seem to be
either drawn to kid lessons or extremely repelled by them.

As far as teaching technique differences, I've found that I usually do a lot less talking with little kid students (they are great at mimicking what you show them). What talking I do is usually in different terms than I use for adults -- make a "pizza" rather than make a "wedge". Instead of left ski and right ski, I
often say peanut butter and jelly.

There are a few personal down-sides to teaching just kid lessons. You tend to get real good at skiing bent over backwards while your fellow non-kid teaching instructors are practicing in the bumps. Also, if you really like meeting and getting to know new people.......you will find that teaching kids puts you into a sort of a
Saturday morning cartoon kind of social setting.
post #5 of 18

Do not worry about what the "I teach kids" reaction is. Kids are wonderful ... ya just have to get on their wavelength. That said I could not teach kids 7 days a week ... to exhausting ... man all that energy and "on the moment thought" ... wow.

What is really challenging is teaching FAMILIES ... now teaching kids is $2 an hour more in my SS but FAMILIES that’s the same rate as ADULTS ... mmmm slight discrepancy there …?

Seth you will find the US kids a delight to teach ... different to home but sort of gentler in a way. Just what till a New York kid says touortle … it is way cute!

The thing I most like about teaching kids is that you can be one again …

Enjoy DV.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Bob Barnes, Rusty, Ant, Robin.

Got anything to add? I would like to hear from experienced instrustors. [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ August 25, 2002, 03:10 AM: Message edited by: Seth ]
post #7 of 18
Well, Seth! As you know, I thought I was headed to Deer Valley this season, too. My boss here, who is a manager there, has this week told me that even though I'm experienced and certified, I'd still be starting in kids, with 3-6 year olds, and he doesn't think I'd be happy. well, he's right there. So I'm currently having to change my plans, and hunt around for a US ski school that does H2B visas!!!

As for kids: my first instructing job was at Mount Snow in Vermont. I was there to learn how to teach adults, however they snaffled me for kids (7-12 year olds). I was horrified! But they taught us well, and I actually really enjoyed the season.

Kids do not respond to technical stuff. They are very visual, they follow, they imitate, and as they do stuff, they are learning. They do like to have fun, but I haven't found that one needs to be playing games all the time. A few games, and just skiing, is my mix. If they are on the right terrain and feeling comfy, they can enjoy the skiing, skiing is "the fun".

I do build in some technical stuff. I explain what we're about, but I keep it brief. If they are in a massive wide snowplough, I encourage them to make their pizza pointy instead. Once they feel how this makes their skiing work better, they keep doing it.

Lots of praise works well, and you'd be surprised what they retain. You might say something once, and they look like they're not even listening, and later on they'll repeat it, or their parent will report that they talked about it.

My first rule is to keep them safe, and in 4 seasons of teaching, it's not been broken! Establish the rules early, keep an eye on their clothing (they pull their gloves and goggles off and their boots come undone), listen to what they say, be firm about stuff that matters, but loosen the reins occasionally. I let them have a "free ski" as a reward; usually a mad straight-line dash for a nominated point, or with me in front.
They love that.

Think up simple ways to get them to do stuff that'll improve their skiing. During your training, you'll learn some games. Then you'll think up some yourself, and get others off your colleagues.

A kid who teaches at DV told me that they hvae a very set system for teaching kids there, involving certain props etc, they'll teach you that so you won't be chucked in the deep end.

Meanwhile, my plans are completely disrupted and I have to find a new hill quick!
I do enjoy teaching kids, but I like variety. And 3 year olds are a bit too "kid" in large doses. Although this week I kept being requested for a kid who'd just turned 4, and he was amazing, I had him doing a wedge all by himself in the first hour!
post #8 of 18
Hi Seth,

DV has some strict protocols. Good luck.

To the subject at hand. I echo all of the above. Keep aware of the age group and stay age appropriate in your language. However, I have had interesting success with repeating concepts in differing ways - vocally, visually and kinesthetically. Kids learn very fast as was mentioned already. Keep thinking as if you are one of them. (NO - BE ONE OF THEM!) Think out of the box. Every instinct you have is transferable into a game.

Always keep a mental monitor on their stamina and yours. IF A KID GETS TIRED (below 5 or 6) THEY CRY and beging to be very disruptive. Plan for plenty of water, potty, and nosh breaks (again within the DV protocols).

There are some big difference in development between 3-6 and older. Read a little about motor skill development and cognitive development. The guidelines in the texts are pretty accurate. If you want some further reading info, send me a PM.

I think that this could be a fantastically gratifying winter for you, if your interest in being a strong role model is entact. Keep us posted.
post #9 of 18
bump...........I love teaching kids (altho' I teach children & adults pretty much equally). What do you like about teaching a particular type of group?
post #10 of 18
First, I think that you have to define kids ... like Bill Clinton defining "is" ...

Then look at your personality and how you relate to kids.

I never had a problem with and loved to teach kids who were like twelve and older, but I just never had an affinity for the little ones, and perhaps that came from a fear of not knowing what to say or do with them.

Some instructors just seemed to have a warmth and magic touch with those little people.
post #11 of 18
I taught kids at Whistler for 8 years, mostly groups, and dabbled in teaching adults as well. Big differences, kid's dont say "I can't" after they have tried and failed to do something twice. They also don't ask "Why" when you are teaching.
When you have the 3-4 year olds alot of the time you are seen as a babysitter on skis, you need to base the level of teaching on thier energy level, my frustration at this age group was not seeing the other instructors push the kids enough. I have found that they can accomplish/learn at a great rate if given the chance, keep em' warm, hydrated and entertained, and you won't need to go inside every 15 minutes, or try and teach in 10 minute blocks.
Kid's over 5 a 10 minute break morning/afternoon besides the lunch break and you are golden.
Adults I find not only do you need to teach them to ski, they look for the technical background, plus they wish to be entertained, or given a new experience while they are out on the hill. Kids you can just lead them places and let them discover alot of stuff on thier own.
Adults you teach, kids you help them discover, adults you develop a skill, kids you play games to get the skill you want.
Lateral balance, great lets see how long we can traverese across the hill on a deserted slope on one ski, Take it to the next level, lets see how long you can ski with only one ski touching the ground (swapping skis on each turn), kick it up even more, keep the same ski up on both turns.
post #12 of 18
It's not that children are less afraid than adults on average, it's that they are afraid of different things.

Kids tend to learn very naturally with a good environment and experience. The challenge is to 'not get in the way' of their learning.

That said, there is never a shortage of unexpected situations to deal with, you have to be ready to soften your heart and 'happily' take that step that you never thought you would "have to" take to care for a kid.

I was a better kids teacher before I had a child. I had more patience with myself back then. Maybe that's just an aging thing, though. Lots of us get more crotchety as we get older.
post #13 of 18
Teaching 7-12 years olds is the best! Unless you have a crappy bunch of kids. Then it's no fun for anyone.
post #14 of 18
I started teaching with kids many years ago. After some years off, I got back into teaching with adults, at ability levels from NSB's to Masters racers and fellow instructors, and ages ranging from early 20's to late 60's.

I started working with kids again nearly 15 years ago when my own kids started skiing, and I've been coaching kids race programs, mostly ages 8 to 14, for the past 5 years.

I've gained a lot of enjoyment from working with adults and kids, but one of the really rewarding things with kids is that you'll very often see major developments in a much shorter time period. One thing that some people don't like about teaching or coaching kids is that there is some babysitting involved -- at a minimum, you have a parent's responsibility of care for the kids for the time they are in your group.
post #15 of 18
From the experienced instructors develop a list of games and fun things to do on the snow that both keep the kids interest up and build skiing skills. Skiing backwards even on the easiest slope is one fun way for them to develop balance and get them skiing while they're thinking about other things...where they're going, in this case. Call out..."Ski backwards...ski frontwards...ski backwards..." Anything fun on skis is building skills while it's keeping them interested.

When they're more advanced, find places where the more adventurous ones can ski through the trees on the side of the run while the less adventurous can ski where they're comfortable, all in sight of each other and you, and under your control.

I don't do well with the very little ones. Find which ages you enjoy working with. The right match of instructor and student makes it fun for all.
post #16 of 18
the best advice I ever got from a mentor instructor many years ago was, "Treat the kids like adults and the adults like children and you'll be very successful"
post #17 of 18

I've heard that kiddie instructors can make for the best adult instructors because they have learned to give direction with fewer words and less mumbo jumbo and spend more time actually skiing.

what do you think 'bout that?
post #18 of 18


You'll learn as you progress that various age groups (from child to adult) require different methods. Teaching kids will teach the importance of doing perfect demos's and how to watch!
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