Traveling with kids?
Most likely our primary concern when it comes to hitting the slopes as a family is the safety, enjoyment and progression of our kids. Indeed – with cold temperatures, the use of specialist equipment and physically tiring days, it can be a lot for the little ones. When navigated well it will not only create life long memories for the whole family, but also in still a passion in them for snow sports and the great outdoors. So how do we minimise the tears and tantrums and maximise the fun index?
Why put my child into ski lessons?
In short – professional and experienced instructors know the best teaching tools and tactics for people of all ages, especially the little ones. When a toddler or child first encounters a new or unfamiliar activity they need to be guided with confidence, kindness, patience, efficiency and fun. As the parent, your children may be less inclined to follow your directions or have faith in your teaching ability (even if you’ve got it dialled!) And will be more likely to give in to their frustrations or melt downs with you than they would with a `stranger`. As you can imagine, it is not always a whole lot of fun teaching your own child either. That said – we do really encourage families to enjoy skiing together outside of ski lessons to consolidate what they have learnt and reinforce it as a fun family activity.
From a development perspective, instructors are well practised in understanding how a particular individual learns best and then applying that knowledge to how they teach the lesson. They will know the right pace, exercises, explanations and style to progress them as quickly and as safely as possible. Even at more advanced levels there is always improvement to be had, and pre-teens and teens especially can develop an indifference to skiing when they lack direction and vision as to what the next level of skiing looks like and how to achieve it.
Group Lessons Vs Private Lessons – which is better?
To point out the elephant in the room – private lesson are far more expensive than group lessons. Given that, it is natural to wonder if the extra cost is really worth the extra advantage. In a private lesson 100% of the instructor`s time, attention and thought is on your child, meaning that no time is wasted doing an exercise, explanation or practise that is not really relevant to them. All aspects of the lesson and time have the sole goal of furthering their skiing. In a group lesson where there could be up to 8 children (that inevitably will be of varying levels and have different skills) the very best the instructor can provide is 1/8th of their time to your child. If any of those other children require additional attention, this will further reduce that number. Not only will their learning be limited, but it is not uncommon for children to become lacklustre or even bored if they feel that they are not being pushed or challenged.
From a logistical standpoint, your child will be able to access more challenging slopes sooner in a private lesson as the instructor does not have to make sure that the other 7 are also up to the task. With the 1:1: ratio the instructor is able to try them on different terrain, and for beginners – even get them riding the chairlift much sooner than they would in a group. This in itself gives the child far more `milage` – which is very important – to be able to master their snowplough and turns on a far longer beginner slope with the physical support of their instructor, as opposed to waiting for their turn on a Magic Carpet.
Is there any benefit to Group Lessons?
That is not to say that there is no advantage for group lessons, as of course there is. For more advanced levels, certainly where mileage is even more valuable, group lessons can provide this in a more sociable (other kids) environment than a private lesson. It is true that kids do learn very well around other kids, and there is a definite fun factor advantage in the group lessons experience, and some children have extremely fond memories of their days in `ski school` and the friends that they made. There are also fewer high level children taking lessons so the child/instructor ratio tends to be much lower for these groups; it is possible to luck out with a private if no other children are at that level. Low season too can also see smaller classes than the bursting ones we see during peak times.
At the other end of the scale are the beginner toddlers; children under 5 tire extremely easily as they lack the muscular development to fully support themselves in an ideal skiing stance. When we consider all that tiny tots have to contend with (naps, travel, unfamiliarity, communication frustrations etc…. ) Small children do not generally last long in lessons, and a bit part of the lesson is focused on keeping them smiling and excited about snow and skiing. Because of this, cheaper group lessons are certainly more cost effective than a private, and should be shorter In length than regular group lessons.
What is the ideal amount of lessons for my child?
This will entirely depend on your goals for your ski trip. As a general rule and if the parents ski themselves, we recommend that children take Half Day morning lessons to develop and progress their skills, and then take the afternoon to practise and put mileage on those skills with mum and dad. This way they are able to absorb the teaching in the morning – building on it each day – whilst still keeping skiing as a fun family sport in the afternoons. Sometimes when younger children (7 and under) do Full Day Lessons their brains and bodies tire by the afternoon and they are not as engaged and ready to learn. Of course, all children are different and what suits some may not suit others. Many parents do prefer for their kids to take Full Day Lessons – which are a great way to create continuity over a week or several days, and certainly expedite the learning and development.
When it comes to how many lessons should they take, there is enormous value in even just 1 lesson – so again, it depends on how you’d like your holiday to look. If they are first timer skiers, we recommend at least 2 Half Day Lessons – or one Full Day Lesson – to give them the best possible start. For more experienced skiers – they could do one or two `refresh lessons` to re-focus and build on their skills, whilst creating some goals for the rest of their trip. On the other hand, creating continuity and a routine for your time has huge value, so having lessons daily from 9-12 – for example – would be hugely advantageous. After all, the more lessons – the more improvement.
What is the take away here?
In short – private lessons allow for a faster progression while at the same time creating a peace of mind that you child is in great hands. Our instructors practise the highest level of safety and are well versed in teaching children. We have a genuine enjoyment in sharing our own passion of skiing with the next generation, and many of us are parents ourselves.
We would often equate the progression seen in 1 private lesson to at least 3 group lessons. When it comes to the cost – as we do allow up to 5 guests per private lessons – it can be shared with several other children (friends or siblings) so long as the ability levels are similarly matched. When splitting the cost this way, it can be cheaper than paying per child for a group lesson – but with the benefits of a private.