I can’t tell you how many times I curved my class of 3 year olds around like a mini snake to avoid hitting an adult who was sitting in the middle of the beginner slope. But how can these (almost) babies be skiing?! Well the answer to that is that children are incredibly capable, adaptable and tenacious. Their low centre of gravity doesn’t hurt either. And once they are off and skiing they will have the time of their lives! There’s plenty you can do to help prepare your child for a good experience at ski school. Here’s how to set your little one up for a love of hitting the slopes:
Check the weather before you dress the kids
It makes sense that snow = cold. However, conditions vary widely across the season. Many times I taught in just a long sleeved thermal, especially on sunny days on the beginner slope. Every ski school morning CHECK THE FORECAST to make sure you aren’t over or under-dressing your little ones. Warm socks and tights under ski pants are always advisable. In terms of tops, layering is a better option than bulking up. Mix and match options including singlets, t-shirts and thermals paired with a ski jacket. Don’t forget that skiing is a very physical activity where bodies can work up a sweat. Opt for breathable fabrics (like cotton) in layers, rather than thick jumpers that don’t allow for temperature regulation.
Instead of beanies, get a helmet. Many hire places offer a free helmet for kids with ski hire. I wouldn’t send my kids down a concrete hill on roller blades without a helmet on. On icy days, the snow won’t feel much softer than that (if they do take a tumble). It’s worth it. Get the helmet.
Watching from the sidelines
I know, I know. We all want to see how our kids are doing and possibly catch that first run on camera. But here’s the thing. Nothing breaks the focus of a little one more than suddenly being reminded that they want to be with Mum and Dad. If you’re going to hide in the bushes to get a peek at your child’s progress, at least be good at it. Stay hidden! Better yet, go and get a ski in for yourself and spend time after pick up marvelling at your childs’ new skills.
Little ones are quite close to the snow in a literal sense. Their hands are especially vulnerable to the cold and need to be protected. But you know that daily “where are your shoes?” scenario? Yep, it’s now applied to gloves as well. If yours don’t have a clip on the glove AND the jacket you can still use this easy and effective hack. Thread a length of skinny elastic through your child’s ski jacket and attach to each glove (quick demo video just below). Now every time your child takes off their glove, from your accommodation to the slope and everywhere in between, it will simply dangle near their hand rather than disappear into the black hole of missing mittens.
Speaking of mittens, they are much warmer and more practical than fingered gloves. Keep an eye on the instructors, many adults wear mittens too! They are much easier to get on and off plus they keep hand heat concentrated in one space.
How would you like to be dropped off to strangers in a place that looks like a different planet with no clue about what you’ll be doing and when it will be over? Prepare your kids for ski school by giving them a clear understanding of what to expect. This especially includes:
- that they will meet a new teacher and stay with them during the day
- that they will be learning about how to use skis and move on snow
- that they will be having lunch at ski school
- that you will be out during the day and will pick them up in the afternoon (for little ones use “before dark”)
When you empower your children with information it can really help take much of the uncertainty and fear out of the first day. Your confidence in the instructor will also help your child feel comfortable. At drop off time your child can reflect and absorb your emotions, so try to keep it positive.
Please, delay sending your littles to ski school if they aren’t confidently using the toilet. Every class goes to the bathroom before they head outside, but each session in the snow can vary in length before the next toilet and snack break. It takes time for instructors to signal ski school staff, get children off the slopes and then even more time to get all their gear removed so that they can use the bathroom. Can they hold on that long? Definitely worth considering especially since on Aussie slopes most ski schools offer days to children 3+.
Using the chairlift
Your child’s instructor will give detailed instructions on how to use the lift safely. The most important thing you can do to help is encourage your child to listen to their instructor (and lift staff) at all times.
There’s few things I love more in the world than feeling the snow under my skis. I hope your winter trip kick starts that love in your littles too!
Do you have any other tips from your ski school experience? Leave them in the comments 👇🏽