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Station teaching little kids

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I have been asked to give imput on redesigning the children's program at my mountain. Up till now it has been rather simple. One thought was to start stations and move the kids between the stations. Each station would stress a skill or skill set, such as a flat course where the kids would shuffle between cones in a race format another would be a very small terrain park area where the kids would experience some very small terrain changes yet a another would be a course set with cones(Nastar for skiwees). At each station kids would be taught by the same instructors, the kids move the teachers stay put. Anybody have some thoughts?
post #2 of 18
I'm a bit iffey about it, especially if the kids are really young. The littlies seem to like to latch onto a specific person, they seem to get quite disturbed at being in a strange environment with strange people, but having a person who looks after them the whole time seems to allay their fears a bit.

OTOH, if it was made up like a play-park, they might enjoy it...but I suspect the really young ones would prefer to have their own instructor to take them around. just my thoughts!
post #3 of 18
Another thought. I'll put on my dusty old manager's hat.

what is it you are actually aiming to achieve with the re-design? Are there specific problems with the old way, or a notion that certain things could be done better? It's often good to analyse the current situation first...the good old SWOT analysis! What's good, what sucks, what could be done better, what things do you need to beware of?
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
ant- your point about the little ones being a little iffy with too many strange faces is a good one. The reason for the change is that the current program involved little more than pitch and catch with the kids as they came down the side of the moving carpet.If a kid was talented then he/she got a shot at the jbar with some assistance from an instructor.I am looking for a new system that will build skills one at a time and allow for some fun and not just ride up slide down.Holiday traffic at our mountain can sometimes be 65-75 kids in the all day program at the jbar or lower level. The carpet at these times is a mess of kids not really learning anything and the junior instructors getting backaches. Thanks for responding glad to hear anything you want to share
post #5 of 18
Out of curiosity, what ages are we talking about.

I tend to agree with Ant. You know these kids are looking as much for a social experience as skill acquisition. To set them up to bond and then break up and then rebond, is a tough time for a kid that is already not quite comfortable about being left by the parents. The move to the new station must be really compelling, but even if so, it still sets lots of kids up for failure as they get left behind.

Can you change the pattern you have and, say, set up a training loop that the kids and their pros can move to together?
post #6 of 18
Yep - I'm with Ant - we play kid chauffers for chairs regularly.
JUST to ride up hill some will NOT leave instructor.
Some will latch onto my instructor - RED SUIT = GOOD
Others will latch onto me MIDDLE AGED FEMALE = like Mum & teachers at day care/school/kindy = GOOD

The ones that are easy to take are pretty social so they want someone else to chat to. Others are keen to get uphill first(instructors go with last pair)

Thredbo has : stuff for littlies a TRAIN(old snowmobile with a trailer that it tows) a special terrain park(Wombat world) with tunnels & jumps

There are(were) animals planted in the trees up on the 'big hill' for them to find if they stay the week class(actually cutouts of ??? wood I think)

There are animal levels to achieve on your little passbook
the same 'animals'(instructors in suits) come out & visit from time to time & on the 'flare run'(optical fibre torch) night

Angie Beresford at Thredbo(Jindabyne) set up a lot of it - try to get a contact
post #7 of 18
I can only speak of my kids. I recall skiing was playing and learning was not what it was about. If that is true with other kids I would think the approach would be to keep the kids bonded to a "few" instructors that play with the kids with learning a by-product of playing. I am assuming from what you posted these are smaller kids. Personally I can't remember my kids wanting to "learn" to stop unless of course they had to then they seemed to learn pretty darn quickly and from then on they had it unless of course they thought falling in the snow was more fun than just an old stop.
post #8 of 18
At Windham, we set up a little flat loop of gates for the real small kids to suffle around and through, with "tunnels" and crossed poles and stuff to make them move up and down. Then they move to a tiny slop with carpets they can shuffle up easily. The areas are close together so the groups can go back and forth between them. It's not station teaching, kids stay in their group, and each group has a couple of instructors. We have a lot less room than Gore, but I think the confined space works better for the small kids. I agree with everyone who said station teaching is not appropriate for kids.
Have you talked to Freddie Anderson or her daughter at Maple Ridge? They've probably taught more kids to ski than anyone else anywhere.

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Weems- The ages we are talking about are from 4 to 6 years. These kids are the never or almost never evers. The program until now has just had them on the carpet sliding down and riding up. Very little or no real instruction. What I am hearing from you guys is that you think the insructors should rotate with the groups of kids so that the kids can bond with the instructors. Can't say I disagree , my experience has been along the lines of others that kids can get attached. One of the new formats this year is to bring back the group lesson with the same instructor for 6 weeks option. This program will be for the kids who are a little older and will run right up to kids who are very good skiers. What I am looking for is a method that will teach these kids is a fun and safe way. I thank for thoughts.
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
John- you are doing exactly what I was thinking of, how big are your groups of kids, what ages, how many instructors do you assign. Tell me more, please.
post #11 of 18
That current scenario you have is exactly what went on at my last resort. I'd never seen it before (and never want to see it again!). The little kid never evers were grouped in one spot with a stationary carpet. There'd be a group of instructors allocated to the group, and basically the kids shuffled up the carpet and then zoomed down to be caught by the instructor. I felt that this was NOT a good way to go, for anyone. There could be a large number of kids, they didn't have their own instructor, and you could see they were very confused and intimidated by the whole thing.

It would have been so simple to have a group of kids with each instructor, but working in close proximity so if splits emerged, the kids could be re-arranged.

I was also pretty amazed that by the 3rd day, you still had kids who hadn't moved off the flat area, they couldn't wedge properly or stop. I'm sure that in a normal group situation, that woudldn't happen (i've never known it to happen with groups).

Disski's mention of Thredbo: they have an excellent kids learning thing, they have put a lot of thought into it. It's a huge obstacle course on an almost flat area with magic carpets. I think the kids get colour-coded bibs with some kind of animal motif...I've found that kids love to be in a group with a name, and it's usually an animal name (I let my kids choose a name, the Golden Vampire Bats sticks in my memory!).

Once the kids have "got it", having adventure stuff on the hill goes down a treat. Keystone had forts and mines hidden in the trees, and that was the high point of the lesson for them. At collection time, that was the thing they told their parents about.
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Ant- Thank God someone else knows of what I speak.Pardon my ignorance but is Thredbo a company? The suggestions I have already gotten have been very helpful,current thinking is to break the kids up into groups and assign instructors who will stay with them and move with them as they go though the various little areas.One area could be a flat area, another would be a gliding area and yet another could be a skiwee Nastar course of sorts.From there they would graduate to the jbar class and a whole new set of challenges.Does anyone have any other ideas. You all have been great. Thanks.
post #13 of 18
Thredbo is a ski resort in Australia. I've never been there, but I understand it's one of the better-known ones Down Under.
post #14 of 18
Thredbo is one of our resorts, it has a stunningly beautiful village (very austrian) but suffers by coming down too low. From what Disski says, it seems that their kids thing was the result of a very cluey person!
www.thredbo.com.au should have some stuff about it.

When you compile your kids groups, have a talk to some of your experienced instructors, they'll have some ideas about how to make up the groups. this season, I saw one guy liked to make up groups on the size of the kid. I wasn't sure this was a really good way to do it!
If the groups stay in proximity of each other, it'll be easier to re-shuffle the groups when splits emerge. You might have the un-coordinated/unmotivated ones being able to be grouped...it's so much easier to work with kids when you've got a group that's similar. everyone has a better time of it.

And making it about play, fun and adventure...that is so key with kids! Mt Snow made a kid's terrain park, and I'm amazed that other hills don't do it. It was just a miniture version, on a flat runout near a day lodge. It was perfect.

Kids learn just by being on skis, feeling OK about things, and having a visual reference to copy (the instructor). Give them this, and they'll go gangbusters.
post #15 of 18
If you email Thredbo & address question to Angie then with any luck they will forward to her. Thredbo is a year round resort so they still talk to people in summer.

From my vague recollection Angie was a ???scout??? leader or some such for a long time as was her mother. Hence she had a wealth of experience with kids & then invested a TREMENDOUS amount of energy to make it work. (Also hats off to those who listened of course)

They break their kids up by 'colours' each colour being a 'type' (even though the kids level is decided by ANIMAL) one colour is the 3 year olds who are never evers etc.....

Hmmmm - Meesh may know as his other half is an instructor there in our winter - you could try to pm him too
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Disski and Ant- You guys are great, have just been on the website for Thredbo it is just what the the doctor orderd! You Aussies have the ticket!Back East here in New York we are behind the curve. Even the programs in the West do not look as nice as that at Thredbo. I will be contacting the people at Thredbo as soon as I circulate the information I already have gotten.Do you guys ever get over here? you can drop me a private message if you like.I will be teaching out West later in our season probably March until then I will be here in the East. Thank you so much for your help. I owe you both!
post #17 of 18
How much? [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #18 of 18
The site is a bit funny right now. the main link to Thredboland was very funny, with a blurb about the animals, but didn't go anywhere.
This one explained the programme better
but didn't mention the animals, like Rocky Cocky and Extreme Rat. They have a Ski Ecology nature trail all over the mtn, too, with educational stuff.

coming to the US is a sore point with me! I missed out on a working visa for this year, so I'm officially an Unemployed Instructor this season (and prolly wearing high heels and a suit, yuck).

The person setting up these things does seem to make a big difference. At Mt Snow, the lady running Snow Camp (the 6 and unders) was a child development professional. She really had some big input and pushed through her ideas. I still reckon it was the best setup I've ever seen for little kids. She's moved on now but I'm sure they didn't ditch her excellent programme.
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