Hit the Slopes: How to Have Fun Skiing With Kids
Skiing is one of the greatest ways to stay active during the winter. You can ski in 37 of the 50 states, including a few that might surprise you. And skiing with kids can be a really fun family activity.
But skiing with kids can also be challenging. If they aren’t having a good time, you probably won’t either. That’s why we’ve put together some ideas for how to have fun skiing with kids, so that everyone can have a great time.
Before You Go
While it may sound impressive to vacation at a big-name resort, smaller resorts can be a much better fit for beginning skiers. The slopes and chairlifts are easier to navigate. Lift tickets and ski school are often less expensive too.
Rent equipment at least one day in advance. Have the kids put on their boots and skis and get used to how it feels to have extra-long feet. We’re always amazed by how little ones can run around in those boots.
What to Wear
Dress them in layers, including long underwear. Kids work up quite a sweat while learning to ski, so they may want to peel off a layer. Avoid cotton; stick to wool or synthetics, and definitely invest in a pair of wool socks.
Mittens will keep their hands warmer than gloves, and you can pop heating pouches into them. We also like REI’s recommendation to use a neck gaiter instead of a scarf.
Ski goggles keep wind and blowing snow from irritating their eyes. Plus they fit perfectly over a helmet. It should go without saying that we recommend both kids and adults wear helmets.
Ski or Snowboard?
Common wisdom is that kids should learn to ski first, then snowboard. This isn’t always the case, and you should decide based on your own child’s age, size and strength, and personality.
Skiing generally has an easier learning curve than snowboarding. Snowboarding also takes more strength and patience. The Vail resort blog points out that younger children’s center of gravity is their head, not their torso, which adds to the challenge of snowboarding. Some ski school programs set a minimum age of seven for snowboarding lessons, so check with the resort where you’re headed.
How to Learn: Ski School
Most kids do great in ski school. It can be helpful to be in a group; peer pressure can do wonders to entice a kid to try something new. (In this case, that’s a good thing.) Plus you can drop them off and ski for most of the day on your own. Keep in mind that most ski school programs require kids to be at least three years old and potty trained.
Some kids do better with a private lesson where they can’t blend in or fall behind. Bear in mind that private lessons are shorter and cost more than all-day ski school.
How to Learn: DIY
Other kids are more comfortable learning from their parents. If you’re going to teach them yourself, summon up all your reserves of patience. And keep these tips in mind:
• Before anything else, teach kids how to get up: Skis parallel to the hill, not pointing uphill or downhill. Lean into the hill as they stand up. Sounds basic, but it’s crucial.
• Think about how you will guide them. You can ski backwards and extend a pole in front of you for them to hang onto. Or try a hula hoop.
• We’re not fans of having your child ski between your legs. It’s hard for them to hold a wedge in that position. And it’s pretty likely that the two of you will end up in a tangle at some point, which isn’t fun for anybody.
• If they’re especially young or small, consider getting an Edgie Wedgie. That’s the flexible connector that goes between their ski tips to help them hold a wedge.
Part of the fun of skiing with kids is teaching them about après ski. Make plans to go someplace they’ll love for dinner. Hang out in the pool or hot tub at your hotel or condo. Treat them to a mug of hot chocolate. If a day of good effort on the slopes leads to lots of kid-style fun, they’ll be ready to head out again another day.