Prepping the Littles for Snow Sports School

Tips Ski Instructors Wish Every Parent Knew…

Ski ‘N See works with youth ski programs across the Wasatch Front, offering amazing discounts to county, school, and church programs, in the hopes of making learning to ski more affordable and accessible to local kids. Regardless of locality, however, Brighton Ski Resort is known for its numerous beginner-friendly runs and remarkable ski school. Brighton’s Debbie Leaman reveals some tips for parents from the resort’s veteran instructors:

Start with the Basics –  Sleep, food, hydration and suitable clothing are crucial. Make sure your child is well-rested, fed and has had plenty of fluids to accommodate for the higher altitude.

Set Them up for Success – Expose a first-timer to snow sports before the lesson. Build a snowman, make snow angels or watch ski or snowboarding movies. Any type of sliding activities, such as ice skating or sledding, provides the basis for a love of winter sports.

Give Equipment a Dry Run – Let “never-evers” test out their gear before heading to the slopes. Have them walk around in their helmet, goggles, gloves, and yes, boots and skis, so they’ll feel comfortable when they get to the lesson.

Dress for Mountain Weather–  Check the resort website for up-to-date weather. There can be up to a 30 degree temperature difference in the valley vs. the mountain.

It’s About the Gloves –  Freezing plus wet equals miserable! Proper ski gloves or mittens are a must.  Invest in a pair of gauntlet gloves which fit over the cuff of the ski jacket, or stash a second pair of gloves in your child’s bag.  During a break she can swap out the soggy ones for the fresh pair.

Be on Time for the Lesson –  To avoid a frazzled morning, stick gear in a bag and set out clothes the night before, wake up a half-hour earlier, feed kids in the car, and hit the rental shop early to avoid lines, or better yet, rent equipment the night before.  And, allow 10 minutes for a bathroom stop before the lesson.

Choose the Right Class for Your Child – Placing your 3-year old in a 4 to 7-year old lesson is not appropriate and could be dangerous.  Guidelines protect younger children who aren’t emotionally, developmentally or physically ready to keep up with older kids. Brighton offers semi-privates for preschoolers.

Give the Instructor a Heads Up – Check-in can be hectic. Jot down the following info about your child on an index card and hand it to their instructor: allergies, learning style, emergency number, favorite animal (for little ones) and who is picking him up.

Go Away but Return on Time – Let the instructors do their job.  You’re paying a professional, don’t hover. If you want to watch the lesson, just ask, “Where’s a good place to observe?”  And, come back on time; late parents make their kids sit in the ski school office.

Don’t Compare Your Child to Others – Comparisons can quickly turn your child off to the sport.  Just because your child’s best friend is paralleling but yours is still in a wedge, there’s nothing wrong.  Children develop differently and pushing kids onto the steeps too early can create defensive and fearful skiers.

Don’t Speak For Your Child – You are paying an instructor to build a rapport with your child. If an instructor asks a question, let your son or daughter answer the questions directly.

Embrace something new about your child –  Novel mind body experiences can elicit new behaviors in kids. If your timid child is a never-ever snowboarder, a few lessons may build confidence as he or she gains a newfound feeling of competence on the snow.

Avoid Meltdown – Stick a granola bar in your son’s pocket for some quick energy.  A hungry kid quickly turns cranky.  He won’t learn and can drag down a lesson for others. Give him a few dollars for additional snack money.

For Special Needs or Shy Children – Provide your instructor with specifics about your child’s abilities, how your child learns and how they like to be calmed.  To build rapport, the instructor may ask your child directly: “Are you okay riding the chair with me or would you like your mom/dad to come?” “Is there someone else (instructor) you’d rather be with today?”

Be Realistic –  If your first-timer is afraid of heights, don’t expect him to have conquered the chairlift in one lesson. Ask the instructor how your son progressed relative to his skills and capacities (cognitive, developmental and affective).

Embrace the Positive– Kids learn best when they are engaged and playing and our instructors are trained to balance fun with learning.  A negative first-time experience can discourage a child, but a great experience can set them up for a lifetime love of skiing or boarding.

Instructors want your kids to succeed and share the passion that they all feel for snow sports. Let your kids have fun, be patient and watch them thrive!  

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