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How To Teach Your Kids To Ski

1 October 2019
Family skiing in a resort

Planning a family ski holiday this winter and looking to get the kid’s skiing skills up to scratch? Hoping to spend the days on the mountain all skiing together, but you’re yet to teach your children to ski? 

The Snow Centre’s partner, Neilson Holidays found that 48% of children are taught to ski by their parents on the mountain, and while our instructors know the importance of expert tuition, it’s easy to see why any parent would want to spend as much holiday time as possible with their little ones – even if that means teaching your kids to ski yourself! 

It can be really magical to watch your youngsters progress from complete beginner to surpassing you down the fall line, and there’s no reason why you can’t help them get there!

Snow before they go with junior lessons at your local indoor centre are a great way to ensure you’ll spend more time on the mountain together. Indoor lessons on real snow will also teach your kids the fundamentals of skiing, making it easier for you to pick things up and throw in a few extra pointers once you hit the mountain slopes. And when you do, here are a few tips on how to teach kids to ski;

Start slow and steady…

The process of teaching children to ski needs to move at a steady pace suited to the individual child’s needs. Too much information too soon could knock their confidence and put them off. If they’ve had our kids ski lessons before your holiday, observe how well they transfer the skills they’ve learnt indoors to the mountain by taking them to the beginner’s slope first to try out the basics again. 

Sometimes the new environment in itself can be nothing short of overwhelming and day 1 on the mountain might involve nothing more than having them get used to their new mountain location, walking further than ever before in their ski boots, and perhaps making small movements on skis. 

Teaching kids to ski can initially involve just allowing them to glide on a flat surface, bending their knees, side stepping and perhaps sliding down a gentle slope with you holding their hands. Be patient, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to letting them find their feet on the snow!

Practice one thing at a time 

Even if your child was demonstrating a whole bunch of perfected skiing skills indoors, it could still be necessary to re-introduce one thing at a time to warm up their ski legs on the mountain.  Again, take it slow and don’t force them to do anything they don’t feel ready to do. If they have done it successfully before, they’ll likely pick it up again quickly, once they’ve found their confidence. Here are some skiing drills you can try together when teaching your kid to skion the mountain. 

  1. Sliding – Begin on the mellowest of nursery slopes and run alongside them, holding their hand if need be. Progress on to letting them slide alone and catching them at the end if they want you to.
  2. Stopping – the most important thing to learn is how to stop in control. Teaching children to skiand then stop by making a pizza-like wedge with their skis when they want to slow down or stop is a good method. Let them grow in confidence with this until you no longer need to hold their hand or move alongside them.
  3. Turning – once they are happy sliding in a straight line then stopping, you can start to introduce turning. Begin with wide, gentle turns, explaining how to gradually shift their weight from ski to ski. Let them follow in your tracks as you curve down the slopes, and as their skills improve, make the turns tighter and tighter.

Have fun together

Skiing is about having fun, that’s why you enjoy it yourself and it should be the same for kids! This is all about you having fun together in the snow, there’s no need to put too much emphasis on progress and technique. With a little encouragement and plenty of snow fun, they’ll be getting the hang of things in no time. 

Here are some ideas to keep the learning journey exciting;

  1. Set up a mini slalom course using ski poles – if your kids love a bit of competition; why not turn it into a race?
  2. Get creative on the slopes. You can pretend to be aeroplanes, superheroes, animals, knights fleeing from dragons - anything that sparks their imagination. 
  3. Play the traffic light game – red means stop, green means go!
  4. Adapt their favourite playground games, such as tag, follow the leader and dodgeball, to skis and snow.

Let them know falling is part of learning

Learning to ski will mean your kids take a few falls to the snow – but letting them know this is okay and that falling can actually be part of the fun will go a long way to keeping their confidence up and morale high. Luckily, kids don’t have too far to fall, nor are they particularly heavy, so the snow can usually provide a soft enough landing. 

Many instructors will teach children how to fall safely before they even begin teaching the kids to ski. This can get the children used to falling to the snow and that falling is a part of learning to ski.

Keep them warm & comfortable 

Teaching kids to skiis made so much easier when they’re warm, dry and comfortable. Having the correct equipment is essential and taking breaks at least every 2 hours is advised

Nothing is likely to put children off the idea of skiing quicker than feeling cold, so make sure you’ve got them fully kitted out from their thermals to their gloves. Remember that thinner layers are better than one bulky jumper.

Finish each session on a high

When they’re doing well and still excited about having fun skiing with you, that’s the time to finish for the day or take a break. Don’t wait until they’ve had enough or they’re beginning to become frustrated with a particular skill. As soon as you notice a hint of exasperation, change things up, invite them to make a snow angel, throw a few snowballs around or go for a snack.

And if it’s about time to finish for the day, it’s a good idea to stop the session before they get too tired to make it back to the accommodation without a struggle. Accommodation that’s close to the nursery slope can make a real difference with this and its worth bearing in mind when booking. Arinsal in Andorra, Les Arcs and Les Deux Alpes in France are a few of Neilson’s most family-friendly destinations.

Consider a mountain ski school

Teaching your children to skiis great but putting them in a mountain ski school can also be a great social experience for your child. Giving them the opportunity to make friends and learn to ski from expert instructors, this option also gives you some time to hit the slopes for some adult-only runs.  

Plus, having the morning apart and then coming together to ski in the afternoons can be an excellent way of striking a balance between skiing the runs you want to ski and being with your little ones.



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