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 when exactly should your child start skiing? Although there isn’t one definitive answer for every child, this is when we recommend children start skiing.
When Should Children Start Skiing?
Children can start skiing in our group lessons from age 4, and private lessons can be from age 2-1/2 – 3 depending on the child and their development. The child’s physical development, comfortability with other children and adults, as well as the ability to listen to instructions are all factors in determining when is best for your child. It’s key that their lessons are short and are based around fun so that they learn to love skiing.
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 child to have a positive first ski experience and have found that short lessons are the best way to ensure that.
Why not any younger?
You may have heard a story about tiny 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. They also aren’t likely doing much actual skiing at this age. It’s more an opportunity to get them used to the equipment and snow – which you can do right from your home (see below).
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?
- 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.
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.
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 in a lesson for their first ski experience. Number one being that our instructors are professionals. They’ve 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.
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.
Before the first lesson:
- At home – Get 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.
- In resort – Take them down the bunny slope the day before their first lesson if possible. This helps them get used to snow and surroundings, making the first lesson less intimidating. It also gets them used to proper gear – ski boots are not the comfiest for little ones!
After they’ve had a lesson or two:
- Practice balance – One key skill parents can help with is helping their child learn how 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, have a snowball fight. It breaks up the skiing for them both physically and mentally.
Check out some more tips for skiing with children in the video – albeit retro – linked below.
Think your child is ready to hit the slopes? Get your child started skiing in our Whippersnappers groups, designed specifically for 4-5yr olds. They’re based around fun and learning through play so that they want to come back skiing again next year. Because we know if your child falls in love with skiing, ski holidays will be secured in your diary for years to come.