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Wondering how to get your kids started skiing? Ann graciously offered to share some tips with us… thank you, Ann! – Kat
Even though some fall leaves are still hanging on, ski season is right around the corner! Skiing makes cold and gray winters not so blah, and if you ski (or you want to learn), it’s a great way to spend time together as a family.
If you’re thinking about having your kids try skiing for the first time, here are all the basics from someone who’s been there!
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How to Know Whether Your Kids Are Ready to to Ski
Because I recommend the professional instruction route (more on this later), your kids should be old enough to separate from you for however long the lesson is. For little ones, that’s about an hour or two. For bigger kids, it can be up to all day. (Most places also require they be able to use the bathroom on their own.)
Also, it helps if their gross motor skills are well developed and they can pay attention. So, anywhere from around 4 onward can be a good time to start, depending on the kid. We started our oldest when she was nearly 5.
Where to Buy Ski Gear for Your Kids
Skiing has several downsides, including the cost and the vast amount of gear. That said, the right gear can keep your kid warm, dry, and happy instead of cold, wet, and miserable. Kids grow fast, so there is tons of barely used gear — your local Buy Nothing group, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay are great places to check out. If you happen to live near a ski shop, they often have used gear swaps/sales as well.
I highly recommend getting a thin base layer/long underwear, a midlayer (like a fleece), a water-repellent jacket, water-repellent snow pants, water-repellent mittens (bring more than one pair in case they get too wet, or lost), and tall wool socks. They should also have ski goggles and definitely a helmet. (Many rental shops include free helmets with rentals.) Also, for their first time, renting skis is the way to go. Poles aren’t needed for beginners.
Don’t forget water, snacks, lunch (resort food is often mediocre and expensive), tissues, and sunscreen (yes, you can get really sunburned skiing!).
Where to Take Your Kids Skiing
If you live by a top-notch resort, I’m jealous! But, for the rest of us, I recommend your local mountain if you have one. For first-timers, I don’t feel like it’s worth the expense and hassle of traveling to a premiere ski area. Local ski mountains (and their surrounding towns) tend to be cheaper — they often have deals on night skiing and during other non-peak times. January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, so that’s a great time to find discounted ski packages.
The Best Time of the Year for Skiing with Kids
Speaking of non-peak times, ski resorts have gotten really crowded. Many places even have capacity restrictions, so you might not even be able to go during peak times without a season pass or reservations. Try to reserve lift tickets/lessons/equipment ahead of time, and arrive early so there’s time to orient yourself, stand in line for rentals, and take last-minute bathroom breaks. Our local resort recommends at least two hours before a lesson starts. Skiing requires a bit of stamina, so pick a time of day when your kids have energy and aren’t cranky.
If you can, it’s best to avoid the week between Christmas and New Year’s, MLK weekend, Presidents’ Day weekend, and the local spring break. Some less crowded times are the week before Christmas, Super Bowl Sunday, late February, April, and mid-week in general.
How to Teach Your Kids to Ski
If you or another family member can ski, it’s super tempting to save some money by going the DIY route. Based on my experience, I’d still go with professional lessons. Yes, DIY worked for the Williams sisters and Tiger Woods, but most of us are not their parents (or have kids like them).
My spouse had “the worst three hours of parenting” of his life trying to teach my youngest to ski that ended with a ski flying down the bunny hill. To this day, my youngest is adamant he will never ski. So, yes it’s expensive, but sometimes it’s worth it to avoid a scarring experience.
What to Do If You’re Not a Skier Yourself
If you’re going skiing for a few days, what about non-skiers? Many ski areas have tons of things to do for the non-skiers in your group.
We went to Colorado last year for about a week to ski. My husband and I took turns watching our youngest while the other parent and my oldest skied. (You can also find a local sitter, or some resorts have daycares.)
Some fun non-ski things for small kids are horse-drawn sleigh rides, playing in the snow, riding the gondola, and story time / crafts at a local library. For older kids and adults, look for snowmobile rides, dogsled rides, cross-country skiing (a bit easier to learn than downhill skiing), snowshoeing (also easy to learn), drop-in yoga classes, spas, tubing, and ice skating.
I didn’t learn how to ski until college. It’s now something I love and want to pass on to my kids!
Stock photo via Stencil.