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Choosing the right ski school for your kids can be a daunting choice. At least for me, it is.
After all, you want your child’s experiences in ski school to be great so that their love of skiing is kindled instead of smashed. We all know that it takes TIME to get kids to love skiing, but they can hate it after just a bad experience or two.
When you factor in the cost of ski school, which can often be from $150-250/day for a group lesson, you really want to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth.
How to choose the best ski school for your kids
If you’ve been around our site for a while, you’ll know that we’re big believers that parents can teach their own kids to ski. However, ski school is an important tool that can really help parents teach their own kids, and we use it every year with our own kids.
You see, we put our kids in ski school, specifically to help them learn the skills that we’re struggling to teach them, and for them to conquer new challenges in their skiing when the voices of mom and dad just aren’t getting through.
Here are our top tips to help you choose a ski school that’s the best fit for your kids.
Call around and ask at different resorts about what their ski school options are
Not all ski schools are created equal and there are so many different factors that you’ll want to consider when choosing a ski school for your child.
Here are some important questions to ask when you’re looking into ski schools:
- At what age do you start ski school?
- At what age are kids no longer in youth lessons, but in adult lessons?
- What is your student to teacher ratio?
- Do you allow children to ride the chairlift without an adult?
- How much of the day will the children be skiing?
- How often will kids be taking breaks during ski school?
- Are lunch and snacks included in the lesson?
How many days should my child be in ski school?
I recommend that kids spend no more than 2 consecutive days in ski school. More than that doesn’t seem to be effective since after learning new skills for 2 days straight, kids really just need time to PRACTICE (aka, ski with mom and dad).
For maximum effectiveness (and if you live within driving distance of a ski hill), I recommend signing your child up for a ski school program that is once a week for several weeks. We’ve found that our kids always make the most progress in these types of lessons.
When choosing to sign your child up for a multi-day lesson, always call the resort ahead of time to make sure that they will have the same instructor the whole time (it’s critical to their success).
Our kids are all great skiers for their age, but like I mentioned above, ski school is an important tool in raising kids who love skiing. Even our oldest who can ski double blacks, goes to ski school EVERY YEAR and I always feel like it’s worth it.
This year, when we were deciding where to send our kids for ski school, we decided to send them to ski school at Solitude Resort here in Utah. We loved that they had a multi-week program that our oldest three could do and that it was early on in the season, so they could use what they learned all season long. It was also incredibly important that they have the same teacher each week (which Solitude guaranteed), and now those instructors say hi to them any time they see them on the ski hill.
We also learned that not only do our kids learn more from multi-week ski school, it’s also significantly cheaper than paying by the day. Our 3-week ski school ended up costing less than 2 days in regular lessons! Win-Win!
How to prepare your child for ski school
The best thing that you can do to prepare your child for ski school is to talk positively about it. Don’t focus on the unknowns, but rather on the aspects that you know your child will enjoy. Our kids love making new ski friends, like showing off their “cool tricks” to someone new, and especially love all the hot cocoa breaks.
When you send your child to ski school, make sure to dress them appropriately. Getting them good gloves or mittens is probably the most important piece of gear, followed closely by a good coat. We’ve been skiing with our own kids for over a decade, so make sure to check out our recommendations on the best waterproof gloves and mittens, choosing the best base layers for your kids, and the best winter coats for kids.
When is the best time to put your kids in ski school?
If there’s any way that you can manage it, you should absolutely put your kids in ski school during the middle of the week (and not the week of spring break or right after Christmas).
Mid-week ski school lessons are rarely crowded and the last time we signed our kids up for a mid-week lesson, all 5 of our kids ended up being the only kid in their class and they learned SO MUCH since all the instruction was customized to them. Yes, that likely means that you’ll have to pull them out of a day of school, but the payoff is worth it!
How to get the most bang for your buck in ski school
I can’t stress enough that there is a lot that parents can do so that their kids have an excellent experience in ski school. Here are some tricks that we use EVERY TIME to make sure that our kids are getting the most out of ski school.
1. Communicate with the instructor before the lesson begins.
We always plan to get to ski school extra early so that we have some time to chat with our kid’s instructors before their lessons begin. We talk to them about our child’s personality, likes and dislikes, and how to help them if they start feeling stressed (yes, ski school can feel really stressful for some kids.)
Next, we talk to the instructor about our child’s ski abilities and what skills we would like them to focus on mastering next. We share with them their strengths and weaknesses and also some of the things that we’ve done with them in the past to help our kids learn different skills.
This is so incredibly important since it can often take an instructor a couple of hours to get a feel for a class and what each child needs (we know – we both used to teach ski school).
2. Stalk your child’s ski lessons
Yes, I know that it’s incredibly tempting to just drop your kids off and hit the slopes SOLO, but you really should stick around for a bit. While the first couple runs of the day may not catch everyone at their finest, we ask the instructors what time they finish lunch and where they’ll be skiing afterward, and politely ask if we can follow at a distance for a couple of runs (no instructor has ever said no).
By after lunch, the kids are all practicing new skills and it gives us a good look into what they’re working on. While we try to never interrupt the class, it gives us a good opportunity to get a feel for the class, so we can talk with both our child and the instructor at the end of the day, and actually know what’s going on.
NOTE: We never tell our kids that we’re following them.
3. Ask lots of questions at the end of the lesson
At the end of ski school, we always spend at least 5-10 minutes talking with our kid’s instructors about what they’ve been working on.
Questions to ask your child’s ski instructor at the end of the day:
- Where have you been skiing today and what terrain should my child work on skiing next?
- What skills did you work on in class today?
- What skills did my child do great at, and where do they need more help?
- If I’m planning on skiing with them on my own for the next few days, is there anything else you would recommend that I help them with so they can progress?
- Are there any specific phrases that you used to teach the kids that would help me when I’m skiing with them?
One of our kids learned to squish cockroaches in her ski boots, and that visual made a huge difference in her balance, but I never would have thought of that phrase on my own!
Asking these questions can really give you some great insight into the lesson. Most of all, these questions empower you as a parent to get out there and help your kids with their skiing. We are big believers that parents can do a lot of ski instruction themselves, and that ski school is a great tool to helping you get off on the right foot.