by Kristen Lummis, Braveskimom.com
If youve got your kids signed up for ski school this winter, good for you! Without a doubt, professional instruction is the best way to build skills and develop a love of snow sports.
While some kids will dive into any adventure without a second thought, others may be nervous at trying something new. Here are some tips to help your children get ready for ski school, whether theyre signed up for one lesson, several days or a week of lessons, or for the entire season. And while these tips can apply to anyone, they are especially important for younger kids.
If your child is a never-ever skier or snowboarder, and you have equipment on hand, get the boots and boards out and talk about them. Try them on, and if youve got a place to practice sliding (backyard, if its snowy?) let your child play and get acquainted with the gear.
If you dont have gear to try on, show and tell your equipment (or use photos online) and talk with your child about what each piece of gear does.
Before you go to the ski resort, get virtually acquainted with the mountain. Look at the online trail map. Show your child where the ski school is and where you will be during their lesson. If youre staying at the resort, point out your lodging.
You can take this one step further and search YouTube for learn to ski (or snowboard) videos that include kids. There are some good ones that will show your child what other children are doing.
Many kids have questions about ski school. First of all, its called school, so they may wonder about the same things they do before the first day of school in the fall. Will the teacher be nice? Will the other kids be nice? Can I do this? What if Im scared? Talk these things through with your child. Help them understand that although ski and ride school involves lessons, its like recess all the time. Explain that the instructor will help all the children learn about their equipment and how to move on it, but there wont be grades or tests. Its all about having fun.
If you can, visit the childrens learning center before the first class. Introduce yourself and your child and look around together. If instructors are present, say hi and let them know that your child will soon be taking a lesson. If you cant visit ahead of time, go a few minutes early to introduce yourself and your child on the day of the lesson.
No matter when you go, everyone will be enthusiastic and welcoming. Make sure youre enthusiastic, too. Dont say something in front of your child that might shake their confidence, like Tommy is worried (or scared) about lessons. Keep your tone light, confident and relaxed. This will help your child be relaxed, too.
When you sign up for lessons, ask the ski and ride school what your child needs to bring. Do you need to bring extra socks or mittens? What about a snack? Where will your childs extra gear be stored? Dress your child for the coldest temperatures of the day. Its better to shed a layer when necessary, than to not have enough clothes.
Finally, take a sharpie and write your cell number on the back of your childs lift ticket or on a piece of tape on their helmet. If anyone needs to reach you (and hopefully they wont) it will make the process much faster.