Tips for skiing with young children

15th March 2013, by Abi Butcher

It's important that children have fun while learning to ski

It's important that children have fun while learning to ski

Before you leave for the mountains

Talk to your child about the holiday, about snow, about skiing. Draw pictures of snowmen, anything to get them to begin to associate what it will be like.

If you are really keen, you can buy plastic skis from amazon that children can play with at home before trying “real snow skiing”. Walking around on the carpet with plastic skis strapped to their shoes teaches children lots about how skiing works.

Make sure you buy lots of appropriate clothing. It is so difficult for children to have fun learning to ski if they are cold or uncomfortable. Below is a list of vital items for a child’s ski outing beyond the skis and boots (these can be easily hired in resort).

1. Helmet: A well-fitting helmet is mandatory for children in ski lessons in most countries and recommended at all times.
2. Salopettes and ski jacket
3. Sunglasses or goggles (make sure they fit with the helmet)
4. Decent ski gloves: Cold hands are one of the biggest fun stoppers. Mitts are warmer than gloves. For small kids get mitts that goes over the end of the jacket sleeves.
5. Thermal underlayers, both leggings and top make for most warmth
6. A neck warmer
7. Thin balaclava

On holiday - Getting ready for lessons

Here is a handy checklist to go through before heading to your ski lessons.

1. Sunglasses and goggles.
2. Have they got the right boots on, have they got them on the right feet? The rush after chalet breakfast can sometimes lead to mistakes that make for a stressful morning.
3. One pair of ski socks is always best for comfort and warmth.
4. If it is cold, use a thin balaclava under the helmet.
5. Ensure your child’s neck is covered well, and ensure the neck of the jacket is not too tight due to too many things underneath!
6. Leave your name and phone number and chalet name on a card in their pocket in case the instructor needs to contact you.
7. Tell the instructor if there are any medical, dietary or other information he or she needs to be aware of.
8. Once the lesson starts, let the instructor begin building their relationship with your child and move out of sight as soon as possible.

On holiday - Meeting for lessons

Try to be early at the meeting point before the lesson. This gives the instructor and your child the best opportunity to bond and relax without things being rushed. Also ensure your child is well watered, fed and rested before the lesson.

Ask your child what they did in the lesson. Good lessons should always focus on some key learning points or games that the child can share and show you afterwards.

Be relaxed about your child’s development. They will develop at their own speed. If they are in a good ski school they will learn to make and practise the right movements. Snow ploughing is a really important stage for kids. It is like riding a bike with stabilisers. The children will stop ploughing and move to parallel when they are ready to “remove the stabilisers”. Do not ask them to ski parallel until they are ready.

Praise effort more than you praise results. Lots of effort will lead to good results and solid long-term development.

On holiday - Skiing outside the lessons

Have fun with your children after the lesson. Let them show you what they did. They will love to show you.

Talk to the instructor about things you can do with your child after the lesson. Even if you are not a strong skier yourself, there will be ways you can support your child’s learning and development.

Think about taking a family lesson where the instructor can help you learn activities you can do to support your children.

Keep fun as the central focus. If you children are having fun and not feeling pressured they will want to come back for more ski holidays. If they come back they will soon be better than their parents… (unless you have some lessons too of course!)

Finally, here are three things to watch out for when skiing with your children.

Cold: Children can get cold without letting anyone know. Keep checking if they are warm enough. Feel their face and any exposed skin. Look out for white spots (onset of exposure). Ensure they are dressed well enough. Will their clothes ride up when they bend and play? Lots of thin layers insulate better than fewer thick layers. Thin layers are also better at regulating temperature. A snood (tube scarf) is great as you can often cover the face. Googles keep skin away from the cold and mitts are better than gloves. Remember to ask about cold feet.

Energy levels: Kids run out of energy much more suddenly than adults. Be aware of this and stop before the child gets tired. Frequent hot chocolate stops are great. Carry some snack bars just in case.

Route planning: Plan your route sensibly. What happens if your child runs out of energy before you get home? What are the alternative easier routes? Is there a bus option just in case?

By Tom Saxlund, owner of New Generation Ski School. Tom is in this video with Euan Wright, New Generation’s instructor manager giving some tips for skiing with children aged five to eight.

New Generation teaches in 10 resorts across the French and Swiss Alps. For more information, visit

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