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Ski Resort Life

Taking your Kids to Ski School? Don’t Make These Mistakes. 

Advice from ski instructor to parent: Get your kid ready for ski school with these essentials. 

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Ski school is controlled chaos on ice. The spilled hot chocolate. The misty eyes after parental goodbyes. Ill-fitting ski boots. Crusty noses. Soiled ski pants. It’s all part of the game. If you play it right, your kid might come off of the mountain sliding on snow. 

Having instructed at a ski school for a few holiday seasons, one thing became clear: There are some simple steps that make a student’s day exponentially easier and better (both for them, the instructor, and their parents). Here are some of the best things to do and avoid doing before ski school drop-off. 

Please, leave the ankle socks at home

The correct layers are everything. If you’re dropping your kid off for a full day of ski school, it is likely they’ll have a cubby or coat hook to stash discarded layers or extra snacks. 

For one, dress your tot appropriately. Opt for moisture-wicking layers and extra points if your kid can unzip their ski bib or pants themselves *chefs kiss! Under the boots, make sure that your skier is wearing socks that cover their calf. Only send them to ski school with one pair of socks on their feet, instructors might remove the extra layer anyways. Wearing two ski socks on one foot can actually make extremities colder and/or can cause uncomfortable friction and pressure points in the boot. 

I found that gloves/mittens were one of the harder on/off layers to dial down. Mittens are preferred since cold fingers are difficult to finagle into gloves. My favorites are mittens with long and wide cuffs to keep the snow at bay but are still easy to get hands into, like these Hestras, or any glove with a wide Velcro opening. 

Don’t forget the extras for accidents and wet weather.

Your skier’s cubby is your best friend. Extra gloves and buffs and even a pair of hand warmers for extra cold days help keep the student dry and happy. Younger students might also want to pack extra underwear in their bags in case of an accident. No need to buy a whole new set of pricey extra ski gear, hand-me-downs or thrift store finds are perfect. Let’s face it, there’s nothing fun about a snot-soaked buff or gloves soggy from a snowball fight. 

Beware of frozen boots! 

Helmets, goggles, boots… bring them inside! Do not put the boots next to the pretty fireplace (they sometimes melt). Bring helmets and goggles inside to dry out. The ski boot shell and liners will get stiff and icy from the cold if you leave them in the car – trust us, it’s not fun. 

Be honest about your child’s skiing ability.

If your child never got off the bunny hill last year, don’t sign them up for ski school saying they turn down greens. The ski school will likely have a projected progression for the age/ experience level of your skier, which helps the ski school group students together and pair students with the appropriate instructor with the appropriate certifications. If you lie about your student’s ability, this will only slow down the lesson and your child’s progress, since they might have to be shuffled into another class mid-day. 

Plus, be kind if your skier doesn’t progress significantly on their first day back on the slopes, developmental changes (especially for kids going through puberty) can change how they ski and handle their bodies. Some kids need time to readjust after a long time off the snow. 

Helicopter parents don’t help anyone.

This is probably the hardest factor to navigate. We get it, you love your child. You want to see them learn. You want to see them thrive. You want to be there if they get hurt. Watching the lesson, even from afar, can actually be very distracting for the skier (especially young ones). Plus, you should be out there shredding too. Be honest about pick up/ drop off and don’t lie or try to break the rules by visiting.  Trust that the instructor and ski school team is there to make sure your kid has a great day, they do this all the time. 

The best line: “I will see you at the end of the day. Just like normal school.” 

Here’s a tip.

Ski school is expensive, we get it. If you have the cash or Venmo ability, leave a tip for the instructor if you feel they’ve done their job well. Their wages are low, rents are high, and working several jobs is common.