Teaching Your Own Kids to Ski

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Ahhh…SKIING!  The sport that can fill you up with adrenaline just about as fast as it can empty your wallet.  That’s right, skiing can be expensive; really, really expensive.  However, if you’re careful about how you go about it, it’s a sport that most people can afford (check out our post on 5 ways to get your kids skiing for cheap).  One of the major ways that you can save money is to teach your own kids to ski.

How to teach your own kids to ski

If you want to know how to teach skiing, one of the first things that you need to do is assess how good of a skier you are yourself.  Obviously, if you don’t know how to ski well, it’s not a good idea for you to teach someone else. Here, we’re going to giveaway the secrets to teaching your kids to ski.

How good of a skier do I need to be to teach my own kids to ski?

Can I teach my own kids to ski? If you are at least an intermediate skier and are willing to invest some time and a whole lot of patience, you too can teach your own kids how to ski.  Skiing requires 2 major things – balance and control.  Your skill depends largely on your ability to master these, so naturally they are the foundation of teaching your kids to ski.  Here are a few foundational skills that you need to focus on when teaching kids to ski. Want to know how to teach kids how to ski? Keep reading for lots of great tips on how to teach a child to ski. While there is no one best way to learn how to ski, we’ve got 4 steps that are critical for teaching someone how to ski no matter their age.

Teaching kids to balance on skis

Before you even get out on the snow, practice balance.  Walk around in ski boots (it’s harder than you think), and then graduate to walking around with your skis on.  If you lives somewhere that it snows, get some of these skis for the kids to play around on in the backyard (note: you can’t use them at a resort but they’re a fantastic way to get kids started and moving – also, don’t give them the poles yet).  Practice falling down and learning to get up before you start.  How to teach kids to get up when skiing:

Tip #1 Getting Up When you Fall on Skis

Before you hit the snow, teach your kids how to get up.  Your back will thank you!
1.  Have your kids sit on the back of their skis and grab their knees.  Pull up.  
2.  Sit down on the uphill side of your skis.  Put your hands on the ground in front of your boots and push.
Remind your kids that you always want to get up with your skis pointing across the hill (not up or down).
3.  Head here for more tips on helping kids get up when they fall

Your goal when skiing with your kids is to teach them to balance.  Balancing independently is an important skill to learn when going down the mountain.  Although it is tempting to hold onto your kids as they are skiing, independent balance is critical to skiing, so the earlier that you practice this, the better.  To do this, start on a very gentle slope (the bunny hill of even your backyard) so that your child can get comfortable with gliding.  

You’re going to stay on that gentle slope until your child can glide on their skis and stop, which can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on the child. Just remember that before you can get a kid skiing, they need to know how to get up (it will save so many tears if they learn to get up before they learn to GO).

Tip #2 Harness or Not

      Head to any beginner lift, and you’re bound to see tons of kids with a harness and a leash on.  This is one of those sights that can be awesome or terrible.  Harnesses are great.  Most of them are equipped with a handle to help you put your child on and off the lift or to assist them when standing.  When used this way, they’re GREAT, and in fact, we have our youngest wear this harness every time we ski, mostly for the handle.    

However, a majority of the time, you’ll see kids careening out of control straight down the mountain, towing their parents along.  BAD!  A ski leash should only be used to guide your child, or as an extra safety precaution not as a way to get around actually teaching them or to go on terrain above their level.  90% of the time, I see these used incorrectly, so be wise.  Bad habits learned on a ski leash will be hard to break!
If you want to learn how to use a harness the correct way, we’ve written an
entire article on using a ski harness the right way.  
If you decide to get a harness, we’ve tried a few and this one is our all time favorite because the elastic bungee straps make it really gentle and smooth when you’re pulling on them.  

CONTROL

The first thing that you need to teach, once your child starts moving is how to STOP!  A wedge (also called a snowplow or “pizza”) is the best way to do this for any beginner skier.

Tips together and backs apart, in the snowplow. It’s how to stop when skiing.

Before you head out on the slope practice moving skis in and out of a wedge so that your child can understand the motions before they start moving.  If you are comfortable, this would be a good time to ski backwards (in a backwards wedge) so that you can make sure that they are doing it correctly.   Just try and avoid the trap of allowing them to stop by skiing into your arms!

How do you teach a kid to snowplow on skis, especially really young kids?

Tip #3 Get an Edgie Wedgie

Edgie Wedgie: A bungee that attaches to the tips of skis to hold them together when forming a wedge shape.  

In my mind, it’s the best purchase you can make when teaching kids to ski and it only costs around $15.

 Most kids have a difficult time making a wedge shape, and the edgie wedgie solves that by allowing them to simply spread their legs apart and making the wedge for them.  It is an excellent tool for learning skiing muscle memory.  Unless your child is really young (3 or under) shoot for no more than a few days with it on to avoid dependence.  Our tip?  Buy one before you head to the hill and keep it in your pocket just in case!
I’ve taught each of my 5 kids as well as hundreds of kids when I was a ski instructor and I used an edgie wedgie to teach almost every one of them. If you’re teaching a toddler to ski, you absolutely must have an edgie wedgie.


 Once your child can start and stop, work on movement.  Turning is essential, and no matter how good your child is at stopping, they need to know how to maneuver.

Children’s skis tend to go where they are looking.  If they are looking at a big tree or rock, they’ll likely run into it.  The good news is, if you can get them to watch you, teaching kids to turn can be as easy as a game of follow the leader.

Make large S turns down the hill and have your child try to stay in your tracks.  Start with very large turns (all the way across the hill) and work your way down to smaller ones (about 15 to 20 feet apart)  Pretend you’re explorers, race car drivers, or even bobsledders to get your kids engaged and following you on your turns.

 Tip #4 Watch Where You’re Going

Kids tend to go where they are looking.  If they’re checking out the big trees, chances are they’ll smack right into one.  When skiing with your kids, get them to focus on watching you.  This way you can model safe turning and show them what to do.  Be prepared to make faces, tell jokes, or even bust out a toy to help keep their eyes on you.

Before you head off of the beginner hill, your child needs to know how to stop and make regular turns independently.  All 5 of our kids have been taught to ski primarily just by mom and dad, and now we can take everyone out for the whole day, feeling confident that they have the skills that they need to ski well.

Patience

Perhaps the biggest skill that you need when you’re teaching kids to ski is a good amount of patience.  Teaching kids to ski is physically exhausting, mentally draining, yet endlessly rewarding.  You’ll probably encounter tears and frustration at some point, but that’s the reason that ski resorts have hot chocolate.  This is the reason that parents send their kids to ski school and have a ski instructor teach them.

When tensions get high, head into the lodge and get some hot chocolate and let everyone relax for a bit.  I swear it works wonders for us!

When you ski with kids, it’s rarely easy, but it’s always worth it in the long run!

How long does it take kids to learn to ski?

Setting realistic expectations when teaching kids to ski is incredibly important.  However, it’s not going to be a giveaway and happen overnight!  Many parents expect that they can take one ski vacation and their kids will learn to be good skiers, but truthfully, skiing is a sport that takes years to develop good skills.

Some kids will learn to get up, stop and turn, all in one day.  For other kids, especially younger kids, those skills may take an entire season to learn.  Generally, the younger you start your kids skiing, the longer it will take.  The kids skiing tips that we shared above will be invaluable if you want to teach kids how to ski.

How old do kids need to be to start skiing?

Most resort ski schools start around age 4, so I typically recommend that parents start teaching their kids to ski around that age.  However, since my husband and I both have experience as ski instructors, we’ve taught all of our kids to ski starting around 18 months.  Granted, they don’t do very much until they are closer to age 3 and I’ve only had 2 out of our 5 kids who could stop before age 2.

For us, we decided that since we love skiing so much, we’d rather be on the ski hill together than sitting in the lodge swapping out runs while one of us watched our toddler.

If you want your kids to learn to ski more quickly, I’d recommend starting around age 6.  By this age, they have better motor skills and they follow directions more easily.
Once kids reach their teens I actually feel that they learn slower than younger kids, so take advantage of that elementary school age window. So how old to start kids skiing depends a lot on both the kids and the parents skiing.

 

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64 thoughts on “Teaching Your Own Kids to Ski”

  1. This system looks perfect for teaching my son how to ski. I can talk until I’m blue in the face but I think showing him would be great.

    Aspect I’d like to know more about: I’d love to know how long to take the kids out for. It seemed last year that M was just getting the handle on going down the hill, when he’s “done” for the day.

  2. The part of teaching we have a hard time balancing is the fun of just riding down between mom or legs legs v.s our kids doing more of it themselves. We want our kids to have fun so we try not to push to much but we also want them to actually be learning to do this themselves. I’m curious about what age you think is a good age to start teaching them.

  3. This post was so helpful, I sent it to Ken because he was trying to teach the kids last year how to ski. He was doing pretty well but this year we’re serious about it! We will try these and then I’m sure we’ll have more questions for you. Thanks for an excellent blog and such great posts!

  4. This post was really helpful. I don’t like the idea of using a harness, but I haven’t really seen any other way to do it. Thanks, for the advice.

  5. Thanks for the tips and the review! We are taking our 5-year-old out on Wednesday for his first refresher for the season-he did amazing last year and I’m excited to see his confidence grow as he gets better this year!

  6. My wife put me onto your blog and after a good try at teaching last season I realize now that this blog is gold. I think because of your tips things will be much less annoying and more productive this next season.

    Do you recommend rent or buying for kiddie gear?
    And where are some really great places to tech?

  7. Neither my husband nor I are expert skiiers by any means— we didn’t start until college or high school, respectively. So we would very much love to get our almost 3 year old son a head start. This would allow us to do so comfortably and safely. A must for two occupational therapists who would prefer to NOT treat their injured selves (or child!).

  8. Thanks for the tips! I’m looking forward to the snow to be able to take my kids out and ski (in our backyard) we have the perfect bunny hill for it! 🙂

  9. Thanks for all the great tips. I’m wondering what would be a good three day progression of skills, teaching my little one to ski. Thanks again.

  10. Love the tips. I have a 7 year old who refuses to try to ski anymore. All out of fear I think. He did some skiing when he was 3 and 4 and then when he hit 6 he decided he was done. Any tips on how to get him back on the mountain?

  11. Thanks for the info. I wondered if their are any good themes or stories you can make up to teach them the basics of skiing.

  12. I’ve been skiing one time and it was when i was little say around 8yrs old. I remember it was very hard,but I’m not sure of whats the best ways to do it or even how to. Skiing is something I would love for the boys to experience,so this is something i need to learn about. Thanks for your how to.

    aemgeg4 (@) yahoo (dot) com

  13. I guess I need to learn to ski, now! But my husband grew up on the Alps, so he loves to ski and if we ever get out of the MidWest, I would love to teach our kids to ski.

  14. My biggest fear about teaching my kids how to ski is how to make sure their hands stay warm. Kids’ gloves just don’t seem to be as high quality as adults’. And I wouldn’t want to keep taking them off to check their fingers… What brands of kids’ gloves do you like?

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    your OWN kids to ski | Bring The Kids. And I actually
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  21. Thanks very much for this- just moved to the Alps & ski’s & boots coming next week for my son turning two- will re-read this before then

  22. Pingback: Hit the Slopes: How to Have Fun Skiing With Kids - Fizzilicious

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