Parent Taught Or Ski School Lessons? What's A Parent To Do?! How To Create Strong, Safe Ski Kids
Can I teach my child to ski on my own or should I sign them up for ski lessons? This is the age-old question that every parent asks when starting out skiing with their kids. The answer is YES! Yes, you can teach your child to ski on your own. And yes, you should sign them up for ski lessons.
Teaching our kids to be safe on the slopes is a team effort and we should absolutely take advantage of all the resources available. One of the interesting aspects to skiing with kids is that everyone seems to think it’s an either/or scenario, when in reality, learning to ski with kids is a process that can take time and most of the time, requires different tactics. Older kids tend to pick it up faster since they have more body awareness and control, so sometimes all it takes is a weekend where one day is group lessons and the next can be skiing with you to refine the skills they learned. Younger kids need more consistent learning opportunities, spread out over a length of time.
Is it possible to teach your child to ski without ever using the ski school lessons? Of course! We actually did that with all of our older kids. But it takes more time, typically involves more tears and frustration, and doesn’t always result in them being as strong of a skier as soon as you’d like. This doesn’t mean they don’t learn or aren’t as capable if you do it on your own! I don’t know about your kids, but mine definitely seem to listen and respond to instruction much better if it’s not coming from one of us parents! This is universal across all aspects of life, unfortunately.
Skiing with your kids is fun. There’s no denying it. It’s an awesome activity to share with your child and it’s incredibly rewarding when they start to master skills and move on to better and harder terrain. But the early days of learning to ski and snowboard can definitely be rough. There’s tears, whining, sometimes yelling, usually a thrown ski pole or two, and that’s just from dad! Kidding, sort of, but if you’ve already tried skiing those first times with your kid, you know the frustration I’m talking about.
So how do you find the balance of ski lessons with a group instructor and teaching them to ski yourself? Here’s some general suggestions for finding the best route to success for safely and effectively teaching your kids to ski.
Start them off with group lessons.
For their very first time on the mountain, put them in a class. Beginner ski lessons at the resorts are designed to give them all the basics and a good foundation in a quick and effective way. Especially older kids. Even a half day lesson can make the entire ski trip more enjoyable for them. They’ll learn how to fall, get up, get on/off the ski lift, and do basic ski maneuvers to enjoy a day full of runs on the greens.
Look into off mountain lesson options in your area. Indoor ski schools (like Shredder Indoor Ski and Snowboard School and Snobahn) can make a huge difference in your experience on the ski slope with your kids. They’re also more affordable as you can typically get 6-8 weeks of lessons for close to the cost of 1 full day lesson. For younger kids, this can be a huge advantage and be the difference between a day spent in the lodge vs actually getting some runs in with your little shredder! The other advantage is that you can go skiing on the weekend to reinforce the skills they’re learning in lessons during the week.
Reinforce the group lesson lingo when skiing with your child
When your child is done with their lesson, talk to the instructor about the lingo they used when teaching your child to ski. What words and phrases did they use to describe different actions? Have your child tell you what the different actions are. Then make sure to use those terms and phrases when you ski with your child. If it’s french fries and pizza, use french fries and pizza. The key is to keep the lingo consistent.
If you find the frustration level getting high when teaching them yourself, put them in a ski lesson, even just a half day refresher.
Sometimes they start to slip and pick up bad habits, and being kids, don’t want to listen to you for correcting them. This doesn’t make you a bad teacher, it makes you parent! Stick them back in a half-day lesson as a refresher. Or if you started out teaching them yourself but find that it’s not working as well as you'd hoped, it’s totally fine to put them in a lesson for a day. The goal is for your child to become a strong, safe skier or snowboarder; who cares how they got there.
Sign them up for advanced classes as they progress.
Once your kid can ski safely and confidently on their own and you can enjoy the greens and blues with ease, it can be a great time to have them take an advanced lesson. Help them up their game and gain even more confidence. Learn to ski moguls, do jumps, navigate more difficult terrain. For that matter, why not take an advanced class together?
Skiing and snowboarding are lifelong pursuits that require skills and knowledge to become a truly strong and capable skier. Our kids will be safer on the ski slopes the more they learn and the more confident they are in their abilities. By taking advantage of the different learning methods out there, we can help ensure that the next generation of shredders are safe, strong, knowledgeable and hopefully as in love with skiing and snowboarding as we are!