That first ski lesson can be so nerve-wracking and overwhelming for just about anyone, but especially for kids. This is something that my husband and I learned firsthand when putting our daughter in ski school. So in my latest post I'm sharing tips to help parents prepare for putting their kids in ski school.
Outfit your kids for comfort and safety
The goal here is for your children to go into their first ski lesson safe, warm and comfortable. Starting with safety, having a helmet is imperative. If you're buying a new helmet, I recommend a multi-purpose helmet that could be used for other activities, too, like ice skating or bicycling.
For a combination of warmth and comfort, waterproof clothing is a must for your kids learning to ski or snowboard. Simply put, it’s inevitable that your kids will fall when learning to ski, and wet, cold clothes are not conducive to a positive learning environment. My recommendation is to dress them in layers, as they’ll discover what’s comfortable and warm as the temperature fluctuates. My daughter ended up shedding layers as her ski lesson progressed.
Finally, I recommend several accessories for maximum safety and warmth, including a balaclava, goggles, gloves, wool socks, and hand warmers.
Properly equip your kids for ski lessons
Going out to buy brand new ski or snowboard equipment isn’t necessary for your child’s first ski lesson. If you’re starting out and want to see if they like skiing, then I recommend renting gear, which is convenient and hassle-free at most ski resorts. At Northstar California we used the Northstar Gold Club and Adventure Center, where we were very happy with the individualized attention that we received, plus the convenience of being mere feet from the gondola.
Once your child has done a ski lesson or two, you can then think of buying proper ski or snowboard equipment if they show continued interest. One consideration for your ever-growing kids is Any Mountain’s Junior Trade Program. The program allows you to trade-up for new and used gear as your kids grow.
Manage expectations with your kids
In other words, your kids (and you) will be okay. When I signed my daughter up for her first lesson of ski school at Northstar, I was nervous she might not last more than a couple hours, if that. Those feelings of nervousness increased when she started expressing fears of being away from us for the day. I even went so far as to call and cancel.
However, the sweet ladies on the other side of the phone assured me it was worth a try, expressing that the instructors at ski school would make it a fun experience and deal with any feelings of separation anxiety that might arise. And they were absolutely correct. The instructors made the day fun-filled with gummy candy, high-fives and a sense of camaraderie amongst the kids. My daughter ended up leaving ski school with new friends and a newfound confidence that she could tackle anything!
My recommendation is to simply prepare your kids by getting them excited for the fun they’ll have and the friends they’ll make.
Book a small group lesson
You have a number of options for kids ski lessons, including large group, small group, and private lessons. I recommend signing up for a small group lesson, like the Ultimate 4 Ski Lesson at Northstar, in which they limit the group to a maximum of four children. This assures that your child gets the attention they need, while still allowing the child to develop sportsmanship and camaraderie with peers.
Hydration and snacks
One of the great things about taking a ski lesson is that the instructors are prepared for anything that may come up, including the need for snacks and drinks. While I mentioned above that my daughter’s instructors had snacks available, I also put a granola bar and a pouch of almonds in her pocket.
Tipping your instructor
Last is the question that many parents have about tipping ski instructors. Generally speaking, tipping isn’t required, but it’s most definitely appreciated. The industry standard for private lessons is around 10-20%, while standard tipping for group lessons starts around $20.
Now, hopefully your child (and you) will be better prepared for their first ski lesson. Get ready for the amount of confidence you’re going to see after ski school and those Wonder Woman or Superman arms zipping down the mountain!