Introducing your child to skiing is an exciting milestone for skier parents. Many keen ski parents want to get their kids on the slopes as early as possible so that they can start enjoying ski holidays as a family. But what is the best age to teach a child to ski? Although there isn’t one definitive answer for every child, this is when we recommend teaching kids to ski.
What is the best age to teach a child to ski?
Can a 3-year-old go to ski school? Can a 4-year-old learn to ski?
Here at New Generation Ski School, we accept children in our group ski lessons from age 4, and private lessons can be from age 2.5 – 3 years old. But it all depends on the child and their development. These are three factors in determining when is best for your child:
- The child’s physical development
- Comfortability with other children and adults
- Their ability to listen to instructions from their ski instructor
There is no definitive age that is perfect for each child to learn to ski. You know your child best, so take these into consideration when deciding when they should put on their first pair of planks.
Short ski lessons
The length of the lesson is just as important as the age. Wee ones can’t last very long in the cold, especially in ski gear that can feel awkward and clunky. They also haven’t fully developed their motor skills, so we don’t want to push them too much.
That being said, we’ve seen in our 20+ years of experience that they tire easily. We want your young child to have a positive first ski experience and have found that short lessons are the best way to ensure they love skiing and feel confident in ski school.
Why not any younger?
You may have heard about other little kids starting to ski at age 1. There are indeed people who put their kids on skis early, but these are usually people who live in the mountains, and skiing is a way of life.
Most kids at this age, aren’t actually doing much skiing, and it’s more an opportunity to get them used to the equipment and snow. If you want to teach your kids and get them excited for skiing, it’s an absolute must to start introducing them to the equipment, which you can do right from your home (more details further below).
Please note that most ski schools simply will not accept children below two years old as they are not physically able to hold themselves up in all the equipment. They could end up not enjoying themselves and risking an injury when their bones are so fragile.
Is it worth investing in children’s ski lessons?
Yes, absolutely! For young kids, from the age of 3 or 4, children can have so much fun on the slopes. As a parent you may be worrying about them going off for a couple of hours with a ski instructor, but it’s amazing how independent they become.
They also learn quickly through play and copying, so they can progress very quickly as they have no fear and don’t make mental barriers, like us adults do!
Other factors to keep in mind
Every child is different and develops at their own pace. Here are a few other factors to help you determine the perfect age for your child.
- Will they be comfortable with an instructor? Do they have experience in preschool or daycare where they are used to interacting with other children and different adults? Are they potty trained?
- Do they listen and take direction well? This will determine how beneficial a lesson will be for them.
- How long can they last in the snow? If your child is not used to being outside in the cold for long periods of time, it will be a challenge for them.
Should I teach my child or put them in a lesson?
OK, we might be a bit biased on this one, however, there are big benefits from putting your children into ski school for their first ski experience. Number one being that our ski instructors are professionals and know how to keep your children safe on the mountain.
Ski instructors have been through years of thorough training and know the perfect exercises, techniques, and teaching methods for your child to learn in an optimal way. They also get to interact with other children of the same age and ability in ski lessons, so it’s also a very sociable, happy experience for them.
What can I do to help them learn and progress their skiing?
Although lessons are key for children to learn the fundamentals, just as in regular school, there’s lots you can do outside of instruction time to help develop their skiing. After all, this is a family activity that you can all enjoy together.
Teaching children to ski, especially very young children, might feel frustrating at times, but you’ve got to be patient and let your kids learn at a pace that suits them. Our goal is to always ensure that children of such a young age are having fun and are safe.
Once they are safe and having a good time, it’s amazing how much children learn from copying and giving things a go. If they look tired or have gone quiet on you, go for a hot cocoa and take a break! If you try to rush your child’s skiing development, it often ends up with frustrated parents who find their kids hate skiing.
Before the first lesson:
- At home – To give your kids a head start in skiing, buy some plastic skis for them to have a play. As soon as they can walk they can start on these. Plastic skis are relatively cheap and will introduce them to the concept of skiing.They’ll get a feel for the equipment, get used to the sliding motion, and even develop a bit of balance and muscle strength before join ski school. You can play games by getting them to jump in and out of a snow plough position. You could show them a video of a magic carpet and play pretend walking on and off the magic carpet in the garden.All of these little games aid their learning process and as your child develops, they will feel more confident joining a group lesson.
- In resort – On your first ski trip as a family, take them down the nursery slope the day before their first ski lesson – if possible. This helps them get used to snow and surroundings, making the first ski school experience less intimidating. It also gets them used to proper gear – ski boots are not the comfiest for anyone, let alone young kids!
You can buy an edgie-wedgie which holds the tips of your child’s skis together. This helps them form the snow-plough shape which isn’t very natural, especially for little legs. Buy an edgie-wedgie here.
Don’t worry if the equipment is new to you too, most ski schools will ensure the kids are dressed properly and have the right boot on the right foot etc. The ski instructor will help you out at the start of each lesson. Ellis Brigham have plenty of base layers to help your child keep warm on the slopes, which you can buy before hitting the slopes.
After they’ve had a lesson or two:
- Practice balance – One key skill parents can help with is encouraging their child to balance on their own. If you get it wrong (such as skiing with them between your legs) you’ll be skiing around with a sack of potatoes, and they won’t build any independence.
- Mix in play with skiing – Again, it’s all about getting them to love skiing so that when they’ve developed more physically, they’re keen and rearing to get going. Stop and build a snowman, make snow angels or have a snowball fight on the ski hill. It breaks up the skiing for them both physically and mentally and ensures they have a more enjoyable ski holiday.
Think your child is ready to hit the slopes and join ski school? Get your child started skiing in our Whippersnappers group ski lessons, designed specifically for 4-5yr olds. Or if you think they’ be better suited to a one-on-one lesson, private lessons could help your child learn how to ski.
Our group lessons and private ski lessons are based around fun and learning through play so that they want to keep coming back year after year.