Introducing skiing to a child for the first time is an exciting prospect, but carries with it the secret dread that ours might be the one laying in the middle of the piste, beating their firsts on the snow amid tears and tantrums. Here are a few tips to make that introduction as smooth as possible.
Make it familiar
It’s never too early to introduce the concept of skiing. Exposing them to the slopes – be it literally or through media, and allowing them to see your enjoyment is a great place to start. Whether they`re 10 months or 10 years, do what you can to create familiarity; they’ll be less daunted by what they know.
More so with smaller children, an enormous factor of their hesitation is having to process too many completely new ideas at once. From wearing clunky boots they’ve never seen before to tight, itchy goggles being slapped across their eyes, it can all be too much; and that’s before they’ve been packed off with a total stranger to teach them and clamped into two planks they can hardly carry. It makes sense then that if these little guys had a some prior expectations, they’d be all the better for it.
Creating these expectations is as easy as playing Youtube clips, reading a kid’s book, watching the beginner’s slope or riding a gondola. A great book, that I will shamelessly and with much bias recommend, is “Joey’s First Ski Lesson“. It details the day of Joey, a cuddly kangaroo who is setting out for his first ever ski lesson. Detailing everything from his equipment to “doing a pizza”, the bold images and rhyming narrative is an excellent way to ease a child into this unexplored territory.
Now that the ground work has been set, it’s time to give it a try. While I fully agree that ski lessons are not the right choice for everyone at every time, this occasion is certainly a must. Moreover, you may just save yourself some sanity from trying to teach your own.
When parents teach their kids it often impedes their willingness to give it a try because hanging onto dad’s legs seems more appealing than trying to stay on top of two slippery skis that are pointing down a hill. Their new instructor on the other hand? They may just choose the hill. They’ll often be so intrigued by this new world that they forget their separation anxiety or nerves all together. Therefore, I can’t emphasize enough the advantage of parents keeping their distance during lessons; by all means watch and savor every moment – but do so from a sneaky distance.
Once they’ve enjoyed some lessons and got the general gist, feel free to practice with them. Having lessons full time will likely exhaust your little one, chomp into precious family time and is not really necessary – especially at very young ages. Speak with their instructor after lessons and find out specific ways you can practice with you kids. It may be constant Snowplough demonstrations or games to encourage turning, but putting mileage on what they learn in lessons is something you can do together and will allow for a quicker progression during their next lesson.
The most important thing is for them to enjoy the experience and create positive memories. Take a deep breath, be patient and enjoy watching them discover, learn and improve.
Written by Nadine Robb
Owner/Instructor, Hakuba Ski Concierge – Hakuba’s boutique ski school