or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Best strategy to teach 3.5 year old to ski?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Best strategy to teach 3.5 year old to ski?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

Hello,

 

My 3.5 year old is excited about learning to ski this year. What is the best method? Private lessons? Group lessons? Learn from daddy? Any advice?

 

Thanks

post #2 of 36

I would look toward your local resort's junior ski and ride program. Usually they have many one-day and multi-week programs that include all-day instruction and lunch.

post #3 of 36

The goal at 3.5yrs is not to learn to ski, but to learn to love skiing.  Hopefully that doesnt come across as too pedantic...

 

Hence if you take fun as the goal then the answer becomes "do what ever you beleive will be the most fun for you child"...is he comfortable and enjoys groups of other children?  Is your skiing ability/enjoyment such that you could have fun with him? 

 

Really it just comes down to what will be the most fun....you dont even need a ski hill.  Depending on where you live, a snow pile in the backyard could work wonders...well at least for the first couple times (that is how Tomba started! (if you dont know Tomba he is regarded as one of the greatest ski racers of all time)). 

 

Remember at 3.5 skiing cannot be an all day event.  An hour at most, if you get to 2 you've done really really well.  So keep that in mind before heading to the hill.  Where most people who teach children or girlfriend/boyfriend wife/husband go wrong, is they forget you are are going skiing with them...they are not coming skiing with you.  So if you do decide to go with him yourself...(which is what I would do)...just plan it out first...where are you going to go, some games to play, break times, etc...all geared to ensuring he has fun....if it is fun the learning comes naturally.

post #4 of 36

By the time I started my oldest, she was already 5 and could take lessons. My middle child was 3.5 when he started but he's always been one of the taller kids in his class, so putting him in a 4+ lesson wasn't tough either.

 

My youngest was 2+ when we had him try it out for the first time. I was hunched over holding him the first day. My back ached for a week afterwards. I switched to the horse-and-buggy harness. That was much better. He would go straight down and I'll be dragged down in a wedge behind him. He was pretty much parallel all the time. Never tried the gadget that ties the tips together.

 

The next season I cut him loose. He wiped out a couple of times but learnt to make turns, parallel turns, pretty much on his own. Now he's 5+ goes on all blues anywhere. Wants to try out the park this season. I'm not so sure.

 

Eidt: Skidude is right about the time thing. An hour or hour and a half of skiing in the morning will have them napping through the afternoon. You can tell when it's time, too. All of sudden you'll notice them laying on the snow more often and not paying attention to skiing but if you mention going back to the lodge they'll refuse and snap back for a moment or two. If you try to push beyond that point you're bound to run up against a big melt-down.


Edited by 5ki8um - 11/8/10 at 8:33am
post #5 of 36

Depending on your location and relative options, getting kids on scaled/waxless skis in the yard or mellow slopes is an excellent. inexpensive tool, as is nordic skiing. They help with balance and learning about sliding, getting around, confidence, fun and 'empowerment through self discovery'.

 

This is also true for adults and older kids.

post #6 of 36


Skidude72 has it right.  We had one kid skiing just before his third birthday and the other one at three.  Each first took lessons, which were basically day care with an hour on the snow.  At four, the kids were good for maybe 1 1/2 to 2 hours per day skiing before their legs tired.  I still remember my oldest screaming on several occasions that he wanted to stay longer, but I opted for the time-honored approach of leaving fun activities before the kids tired or got cold/hurt/sore so they couldn't wait to come back for more.

 

Some instructors on this forum debated the merits and perceived problems with Edgie Wedgies ad nauseum (as they do with most every subject).  We used them since the kids legs weren't strong enough to get down an intermediate hill without them.  When they were old enough, they were taken off the skis with no permanent damage to their form.  Besides, you can take your ski pole basket and place it in between the Edgie Wedgie to give the kids a tow on the flats or an uphill lift line.

 

Kids can definitely learn at a young age.  I recently met a very well-known skier/ex-racer (who will remain anonymous) with a toddler ready for skiing.  I imagine he will teach his own kids, since he is most likely technically better than anyone else on any hill he visits.  In our brief conversation he mentioned the same things Skidude72 pointed out, that the important thing is for his kids to have fun and never have a bad day on the snow.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

The goal at 3.5yrs is not to learn to ski, but to learn to love skiing.  Hopefully that doesnt come across as too pedantic...

 

Hence if you take fun as the goal then the answer becomes "do what ever you beleive will be the most fun for you child"...is he comfortable and enjoys groups of other children?  Is your skiing ability/enjoyment such that you could have fun with him? 

 

Really it just comes down to what will be the most fun....you dont even need a ski hill.  Depending on where you live, a snow pile in the backyard could work wonders...well at least for the first couple times (that is how Tomba started! (if you dont know Tomba he is regarded as one of the greatest ski racers of all time)). 

 

Remember at 3.5 skiing cannot be an all day event.  An hour at most, if you get to 2 you've done really really well.  So keep that in mind before heading to the hill.  Where most people who teach children or girlfriend/boyfriend wife/husband go wrong, is they forget you are are going skiing with them...they are not coming skiing with you.  So if you do decide to go with him yourself...(which is what I would do)...just plan it out first...where are you going to go, some games to play, break times, etc...all geared to ensuring he has fun....if it is fun the learning comes naturally.

post #7 of 36

The best strategy depends on you, your child and your options. I've met many kids who don't deal well with parent separation. I've met many parents who didn't have a clue about teaching their youngun and were more than happy to have a pro take on the task.  I've met kids who couldn't stand their parents trying to teach them (few younguns, but it does happen). And I've seen success stories at all ends of the spectrum too.

 

If you can ski above low intermediate level, your child does not have special needs, you either have a strong back or the right tools and have the slightest clue about teaching children, you should be able to do the job by yourself just fine. At my resort, we have a private lesson product we call "ski with me". In this lesson, we start by teaching the child and transition into coaching the parent to teach the child. The only problem is that about 3/4 of those that I've taught, when it comes time for the parent to start taking over they say " oh no - I can't do it that well, just keep going." sigh

post #8 of 36

Try to get them lessons where progression from the snowplough is quick. I found at the end of my first day a snowplough too hard on my legs so I focussed on parrallel skiing the next day by skiing slightly uphill to slow down. I still had heaps of falls but the sore leg/thigh problem from my first day never returned. I was hooked on the second day after making my first turn even if I did have to crash to stop. I always think seeing kids on blue runs doing ploughs must be incredibly painful on the legs. I would look at combining both parental and skischool instruction with the parent

following up what the instructor taught the next day. Teaching should be without the use of technical terms as even as an adult learner I found technical terms a bit difficult to comprehend. 

post #9 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booya View Post

Hello,

 

My 3.5 year old is excited about learning to ski this year. What is the best method? Private lessons? Group lessons? Learn from daddy? Any advice?

 

Thanks


Just my opinion.  Save it for later.  Would you let the kid drive your car now?   Just make sure you keep the kid in a slow only zone until he or she is at least 8 or 10 yrs. old.  Able to drive a car.

Good luck.  I don't think starting that young makes a big difference.  I see to many parents wanting their child to be the next big Cup skier.   To much pressure for a five yr. old.
 

post #10 of 36

Letting them play in the yard with skis and boots (even on the grass) is a hit.  It gets them used to walking in boots, learning how to get up with skis on, etc.  don't expect too much the first few times at the resort. Regardless of what lessons/ski/snow play option you pick, kids under five are usually only good and happy for about two or three hours tops before calling it a day.  Having a lodge mom/dad/aunt/uncle (to hang with them and play video games and stuff after they are finished with the snow play)  might enable you to get a few more laps after ski wee or whatever before heading back.  Resorts usually have daycare too, but I've never had to dump my kids with strangers to ski because mom doesn't ski

post #11 of 36

I find myself agreeing with Rusty again, if you can ski at intermediate level, keep your kid with you.

 

I've taught both my boys, started at 3 with the edgy wegdey and a 16' cam strap.  I didn't like the harnes, as the one we had seemed to take to long to take on and off and the kids didn't like it.  I took a cam strap and put a knot so it didn't tighten to much around there waist or chest if it slipped up and tied a big loop at the end to fit over my ski glove.  The length was key (could have been longer) as the kids start skiing faster, I skied off to the side of them so I didn't run them over if they took a quick spill.   It was easy and fit more like a belt and the kids didn't mind it.  I'd stuff it into their hood when we rode the chair.  I couldn't  pull left and right to make them turn, they did it themselves over time.  I really used the strap as an emergency brake to slow them down if they went straight in the flying V.  It also works great to pull them around the base area to get to the chair.  Nuff about the strap.

 

I agree with the other posters, skiing at 3 is ALL about having fun for about an hour/session and if it weren't for the pizza and cocoa, I doubt we'd ever even get to the hill.

 

IMO, the kids are finally strong enough and coordinated enough to really start skiing at age 4, this is when both of my boys made huge advances, not only turning and controlling speed, but going places they wanted to go.  At the end of the season, both of my boys had moved from Dollar Mt. (beginner hill) to Baldy, which is commonly known as Sun Valley.  This year my youngest, age 5, w\ill ski full time with us on the big hill.  Forgot to mention, 1/2 way through age 4 season, both my boys dropped the edgey wedgey and lost the strap also.

 

Don't rush it or get frustrated, at 3.5, it's literally ALL about the pizza and getting used to wearing ski jackets, gloves and goggles.  Have fun and remember the sessions will probably be short, it takes a lot of energy to snow plow/wedge run after run.

post #12 of 36
Thread Starter 

I don't want to reply here as I'm afraid the flow of good advice will stop. Thank you all for your comments and the advice from parents is brilliant too as all of the dads and moms have insider info that they pass along. 

 

Nailbender - I love that you packed the strap in your kid's hood on the chair:)

 

Jacques - sorry that horse has left the barn - my son can drive a 4 wheel drive standard already;)

 

Skidude - best advice ever! Thank you for helping me focus on fun as that definitely makes the most sense to me.

 

Another question: aren't young kids averse to things like wearing goggles and going up the chair lift?

 

P.S. I consider myself an advanced (not expert) skier - blacks and blues but not double blacks as they make me black and blue.

 

P.P.S. One thing that always amazed me on the ski hill is the army of little kids flying down the hill. And I mean little - helmets and boots is all you see.

post #13 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booya View Post

 

Another question: aren't young kids averse to things like wearing goggles and going up the chair lift?

 

 No.  Just make sure they go potty before you dress them.  Oh yeah, don't forget to call the chairlift a bench  ("Just sit on the bench, little Johnny").

post #14 of 36

good stuff from all, the time thing is very variable, there might be days you can go out with your 3.5 y.o. and get that 1 1/2 hours and have a blast, next time out it might be 10 minutes and they are just not into it. Don't push it at that point, call it a day and try again another time. Putting in the time now will really pay off in 3-4 years when you have a little ripper on your hands just keep it fun and interesting. My kids were more interested in getting back down to ride the lift versus skiing when they 1st started out, they could not take there eyes off it even as they were skiing away down the hill. When you do eventually go to a lift with your child no poles for either of you much safer on the loading and unloading.Have a great time out with your soon to be new skier.

post #15 of 36

lot's of good advice here...I agree that the backyard or park can be a good starting ground...I remember building a snowman on a park bench in France the first or second time I took my 4 year old skiing.  When your kid is ready for a bit more, try to find an area with a magic carpet or some other free lift if you want to save a few bucks on your own lift ticket (theirs should be free most places until 5 or 6, but it does vary around here with Vail being the worst and Aspen the best with Copper in the middle)

post #16 of 36

I started both my kids at 3.  We used the all-day programs at Northstar and Squaw.  That was key so that mom and dad could get our fixes.  My older girl hated ski school (and pre-school) the first half-dozen times over the first two years, but we made her stick with it, partly for selfish reasons and partly because that's the way she was acting about everything at that time.  The third year was a turnaround.  Maybe it was the maturity of being 5.  Maybe it was that she had a friend with her.  Now she's a ski addict.

 

My younger daughter, when she turned 3, took to it much more easily.  She also had a friend with her.  And, she had big sister as a role model.

 

I know that if my wife and I tried to teach the girls, there would be so much emotional baggage involved that it would be a disaster.  As with learning to drive, it's usually best left to the professionals.

 

My takeaway from all this is that you should try to involve one of your kid's friends in the project if possible.  As always, every kid is different.  In my case, forcing them into it didn't permanently poison the experience.

 

My kids didn't really like the goggles until they got used to them.  It helped that they liked sun, snow and wind in their eyes even less.  At the places we were, they had the kids on the magic carpet, not a chair lift at first.  They would sometimes ride the gondola up and down just for fun.  Since it's enclosed, the gondola is a good gateway to riding a real chair lift later.

post #17 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nailbender View Post

Don't rush it or get frustrated, at 3.5, it's literally ALL about the pizza and getting used to wearing ski jackets, gloves and goggles.  Have fun and remember the sessions will probably be short, it takes a lot of energy to snow plow/wedge run after run.


We had goggle snap almost put an end to a ski day before it even started.  It took a 45 minute break to shed the tears and get going. Make sure they close their eyes when handling the goggles

post #18 of 36

I started my daughter when she was 3+.  Now she's 23 and just got a job as a Race Coach for the winter.  So, I must have done something right.

 

I tried the ski between mom's legs bit, it killed my back and worried me quite a bit about me falling ON her.  So, that might have lasted a weekend.  We went for the harness.

 

Basically, I would get "my" skiing in first in the AM, then my husband would bring her and her equipment to the slopes.  I didn't put her in a lesson at first, because she was quite shy at that age.  She did have ONE semi-private at one point where they helped us get over the turning hump.  After that, no lessons until she was seven and we were at Club Med at Copper two seasons (three?) in a row.  She stayed on the harness until she could 1) stop by intentionally falling, 2) stop using a snow plough, and 3 ) stop by turning up hill.  Until she was really SOLID at controlling her speed, she was on the harness.  Understand, I taught her at Camelback in the Poconos, full of crowds on the weekends, so saving her from getting hit (she barely weighed 30 pounds the first year) was a priority.  After she went off harness, she skied with me pretty much every day that I skied unless the weather was first class miserable.  (I think she might argue with that one, though, I made her ski in lots of conditions she didn't like.)  We would go in for hot chocolate once or twice per ski session.  That meant we might have actually SKIED for like two hours total.  But, since I'd been out early and skied hard until she showed up, I didn't resent the time with her.  She finally was following me AND my adult friends down every trail.  All with ONE LESSON.  Finally when she was seven she had lessons at Club Med.  They put her up there with the most advanced class, all the other kids were around 14 or so.  She beat me in all the races that had both the better kids and the adults in the same race!  So humiliating!  Finally at 11 she was ready to go to racing.  I put her in a prep class, they moved her immediately to the competitive group.  That was pretty much the end of MY influence!  LOL! 

 

She raced at CB for 3 seasons, then we moved to Montana and she continued racing into college.  She doesn't ski in quite the miserable conditions that I do...she's not that nuts about it, but it pretty much defined her for years.  When the inevitable conflict between gymnastics competition and ski racing came in high school, her choice on those dates was skiing. 

 

I wouldn't change a thing.  Some of the "chair time" we had were among my best memories.

 

As for riding the chair, her original goal was to go down the hill so she could ride the chair again.  To her it was like an amusement park ride and the RIDE, not the skiing, was her focus!

post #19 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booya View Post

I don't want to reply here as I'm afraid the flow of good advice will stop. Thank you all for your comments and the advice from parents is brilliant too as all of the dads and moms have insider info that they pass along. 

 

Nailbender - I love that you packed the strap in your kid's hood on the chair:)

 

Jacques - sorry that horse has left the barn - my son can drive a 4 wheel drive standard already;)

 

Skidude - best advice ever! Thank you for helping me focus on fun as that definitely makes the most sense to me.

 

Another question: aren't young kids averse to things like wearing goggles and going up the chair lift?

 

P.S. I consider myself an advanced (not expert) skier - blacks and blues but not double blacks as they make me black and blue.

 

P.P.S. One thing that always amazed me on the ski hill is the army of little kids flying down the hill. And I mean little - helmets and boots is all you see.



I hope that smile means that's a joke!   Driving a standard a 3.5 yrs old is very unusual. 

post #20 of 36

Good advice given already.  Though they can enjoy time on the snow earlier (my younger 2 boys started at about 2.5 yrs.),  it was my experience that about age 7 was when they really developed the ability to control their bodies enough to start truly progressing as skiers.  Prior to that,  the progress was slow.  Most parents will exhaust their patience,  but if you believe you have the patience,  then I'd say,  "go for it".  I had a few "moments" with my young boys,  but overall,  it was a positive experience for both of us.  All 3 of my boys are quite avid skiers now at ages 14 up to 22.

 

The advice regarding limiting the time is crucial.  They simply don't have the stamina for a full day of skiing.

 

I don't know where you're located,  but I found Ski Cooper in Leadville, CO to be the perfect place for me to teach my little boys to ski.  At the time,  I could buy a $5 lift ticket only valid on the beginner lift (t-bar),  spend the day (off and on) with my younger boy,  while the older boys could go off alone and ski the rest of the mountain.  The ski area is small enough and not so crowded,  so that I felt comfortable with the older boys being on their own.

 

AM.

post #21 of 36

Again skidude has it spot on. Fun. When my boy was three we got the skis on him and we lasted about five minutes. Instead he spent the morning pushing me over in the snow and throwing snow at me. I didn't push in the slightest. When he was four, at the end of last season, we tried skiing again and he loves it. I didn't try to teach him to ski, he just stands there and I run ahead to catch him at the bottom. He just straight lines it. This winter we'll try and get something more happening.

It's all about fun. If you kid would rather throw snow at you, that's great. At least he's outside and playing in the snow.

post #22 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacques View Post





I hope that smile means that's a joke!   Driving a standard a 3.5 yrs old is very unusual. 


ROFLMAO!
 

post #23 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booya View Post


ROFLMAO!
 



What does that mean?   I'm an old man. :-)

post #24 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacques View Post





What does that mean?   I'm an old man. :-)


It stands for "rolling on the floor and laughing my arse off." That was a good one!  Thanks, Jacques.
 

post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booya View Post

Hello,

 

My 3.5 year old is excited about learning to ski this year. What is the best method? Private lessons? Group lessons? Learn from daddy? Any advice?

 

Thanks


My advice. 3.5y is young. Dont get your hopes up to high. Deffinetly a private lesson student. Most schools will not take so young in group lessons (except me). Learn from daddy? Hell no! Love from daddy smile.gif!!! BTW, there is a myth that kids need to be overly cheered and pepped to have fun. They dont. Usually they hate it. Once they start skiing they will be having fun and there is no limit to it. Just let them do it on their own terms.

 

My recomendations BTW is that kids learns how to ice scate and ski with nordic skis before stating with alpine gear.
 

post #26 of 36

Thought I'd chime in here.  My son started at 3.5 in group lessons which were a combo day care with a couple of hours skiing.  The places he started had excellent programs and he progressed rapidly.  We would take a couple of runs with him in the afternoon.  Midway through a week long trip someone brought their daughter over who had been at another, nearby resort with a not so great program  - she was way behind all the kids in my son's group. I believe where and with whom you start them makes a big difference.

 

Stamina - yeah they don't have a ton at that age.  I always carried some little sugary treats in my pocket to give him enough energy to get down that last run.

 

The chairlift was more of a draw than the skiing at first.

 

I let the instructors in struct and made sure the time spent on skis with me was fun time.  We would throw snowballs, play tag, all with skis on on the flats, etc.  My goal was to get him comfortable being on skis and it worked.

post #27 of 36

Speaking from my experience with my boy:

1. Group lessons is where he thrived, he first put on skis (the plastic types) in backyard when he was around 2.5-3 yrs and took him to the local mountain at 3.5yrs.

2. A bit of luck of the draw kind of thing, the ski school where he learned in group lessons was tremendous, took great care of him, especially on the ride up on lifts ! It was important since he took to skiing like he was born for it(his father did not ski then...), i.e. the schoo, the young instructors and management fostered and harnessed his natural skills and inculcated a genuine passion for the sport in him. Plus generally, kids like to ski with pals, not with parents!

 

3. The lift thing: That is what in my view gives this parent a heart-attack everytime, so i try not to think about it...you know kids..

This is what I mean: alone on the lifts now(6+years)

 

4. This is what its like when he was 4+, going solo but bombing runs so to speak..he has learnt his lessons through the usual school of hard knocks:

 

5. And this is the end result (its a labor of love for the parent...but the kids are driven and ski through all sorts of bitterly cold conditions) Racing now 6+years:

 

So there you have it: my humble recommendations:

1. Nothing like a good ski school group lesson experience - persistence is important, to build up skill and confidence

2. In this case, Dad joined him and is still trying to catch up but that is slowly becoming a further and further out-of-reach goal!

3. 3.5 years is a great age but kid dependent of course.

post #28 of 36
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone as you all have so much insight I really appreciate it!

 

Dustyfog, wow, it sure is something to actually see the kids skiing on video! Wow! The progression from 4-6 years old is incredible! After watching the second video, even if we go with group lessons, I am tempted to get a harness/leash for freeskiing with dad in order to avoid the runaway train crash. Dax was just a bit in the back seat but he was close to coming to a snowplow stop all by himself.

 

Just hard to watch the kids fall, that's all. I know it's all part of it but I sure am comforted that he is wearing a helmet. We need to get our son a helmet as well since mom and dad both wear them.

 

 

 

post #29 of 36

Progression, age 3 to seven to 20...

 

sequence.jpg

post #30 of 36

@sibhusky.... GREAT photo progression!  Love it!   I loved your stories too.  


My .02...and perhaps someone has already said something similar...My son is now 5 and we put him on skis for the 1st time last season (just turned 4).

 

We went to Winter Park for his 1st day... he rode in a  little red wagons from the parking lot to the base... which was a great start to the experience.  He didn't have to walk or carry his gear.   

 

We took him to the beginner area with the "magic carpet".   The first few times i walked up with him so he wasn't afraid and also so he knew what to do.  Then as he started down the hill I tried to get him to do the "pizza" wedge but I quickly learned that this wasn't the time for teaching.  He just wanted to do "french fries" down the hill.  He LOVED the magic carpet.   He had SO much fun once I stopped trying to coach him and let him just have fun.  He stopped only for lunch and  the adults we went up with that same day quit before he did.   I didn't ski that day, instead i made sure i was comfy and warm in my Sorels and made sure the day was all about him.

 

He can't wait to go back up this year.  It was odd...but boots and goggles were never an issue for him.  Could be we live in Colorado so he's used to being in some sort of boots and wearing goggles when he plays outside in the snow.

 

Once the day was done we loaded him back up in the wagon and headed back to the car.  The wagon idea is wonderful!  Thank you Winter Park!!
 

Also, i made sure I had plenty of snacks, food, drink for him.   We also stopped for milkshakes on the way home. 

 

And i think when it is time for the chairlift... I think he'll be at ease since he's been on one before when we rode a chairlift up to the alpine slide in Steamboat.  

 

Best of luck with your kiddo!  I hope you both have a blast!

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Best strategy to teach 3.5 year old to ski?