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13 Tips for Skiing with Kids

Top kids' instructors share wisdom on making skiing fun for everyone in the family.

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13) For lessons, arrive early, preferably the day prior to get rentals if needed, to get tickets in hand and hopefully avoid lines during peak season. It is great to let your children—especially if they are very young (3-6 years)—know where they are going and what will take place throughout the day, to reassure them. — Mary Flinn Ware, Park City Mountain Resort, Utah

12) Kids learn differently than grownups. Most kids need to get the basic idea of what you want them to do, and then they need to go do it. Repetition with coaching is the prescription for children. They will learn by doing and not realize that they are getting taught something. — Dave Hartley, Steamboat, Colorado

11) Talk about the trip long before you go and continue to talk about it more and more as the date approaches. Set expectations, show videos, etc. They will get so excited. — Mya Frantti, Deer Valley, Utah

10) After the intermediate students get comfortable, usually after a few days of skiing, I ask them to let their skis travel outside their body and swing from side to side like a pendulum. To them it feels weird (they don’t call me weird Willie for nothing). When I see them finally getting it I tell them they are doing what most skiers only dream of doing, they are skiing “Dynamic Parallel.” This gets them really excited, and then we see who can get their skis way outside their body.  Speed, control, and confidence go hand in hand. — Willie Gumula, Roundtop Mountain Resort, Pennsylvania


9) Always protect kids’ eyes with goggles or glasses and their skin with sunscreen. Higher elevations can make you learn this lesson the hard way. — Mary Flinn Ware, Park City Mountain Resort, Utah

8) Try on skis. (Have kids) walk around in boots so the feeling is familiar. — Mya Frantti, Deer Valley, Utah

7) While we want to see improvements in technique, we want to create motivation for improvement from within the child. For example, if a kid wants to learn to go over jumps in the terrain park, I’ll say something similar to this: “That’s pretty cool but you should know how to land before you become airborne. When you can show me that you can absorb the energy you create by jumping then we can go to the jumps.” Now the child has a goal and a requirement that must be met before they get to the goal. — Dave Hartley, Steamboat, Colorado

6) Before you try and teach your child to ski, make sure you have solid skiing skills, so you can completely focus on them. And make learning a game, not just talk. Games like pizza/French-fries and red light/green light are great. — Mya Frantti, Deer Valley, Utah

5) Dress kids for comfort—layers are best. It can make things easier to remove if they become warm, and layers keep them warm if it’s cold outside (but also put hand warmers in their pockets just in case). If the child is taking a lesson, remind him that he can ask his instructor for help when needed. — Mary Flinn Ware, Park City Mountain Resort, Utah

Photo Courtesy of Steamboat

4) Private lessons are great but not for every child. And a private lesson is not the “golden ticket” to becoming an expert skier. Some children will not do well in a group lesson and should be considered for private instruction. Most kids enjoy being around others their own age and ability. A good instructor will engage the group with social interaction as well as ski improvements and will end the day with excitement from the accomplishments and for the next day. — Dave Hartley, Steamboat, Colorado

3) Pace yourself. Let them learn at their own speed. When they get tired, stop and have some hot chocolate, make a snow cone or build a snowman. Don’t rush their time to explore and learn. — Mya Frantti, Deer Valley, Utah

2) How can parents ensure their children remain excited about skiing after a lesson? Have your child show you what they learned in their ski class. It’s amazing how psyched a kid can become to show a parent their new trick, and likely the parent will be amazed. — Dave Hartley, Steamboat, Colorado

1) Terrain and ability selection are critical. Ski where they can ski, not where you want to ski. — Mya Frantti, Deer Valley, Utah