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How to Prepare for Your Kids First Ski Lesson.

Updated on September 20, 2012

Beginning Skiers

Plan ahead to get your kids ready for their first ski lesson and their first season of skiing. If your kids want to ski, make sure they (and you) are prepared.

If your kids are going to take a ski lesson while you are on a ski vacation, or if you live in an area where skiing is popular and your kids are ready to start, a few guidelines and the right gear will make all the difference in their (and thus your) enjoyment for their first day skiing.

Take it slow when teaching your kids to ski and keep it fun. Before you know it, you will all be enjoying the slopes together
Take it slow when teaching your kids to ski and keep it fun. Before you know it, you will all be enjoying the slopes together

A Day of Ski School

Prepare Kids for Skiing

Make sure your kids know what you have in store for them. Explain what skiing is, show them a picture book and hype it up as fun, but something that takes practice. Kids get discouraged easily and if they expect to hop right up and start skiing, they may want to quit before they really get started.

Show them videos of kids their age learning to ski. Luckily, with online video sites, this is not difficult. Make sure the kids in those videos are having fun and don't look uncomfortable. Alternatively, if you have time, take your kids to watch a ski lesson (easier if you live in a ski town).

Full face ski masks are useful for the colder days on the mountain and fit under the helmet.

What Should Your Kids Wear for Skiing?

You want your child to be comfortable, warm and safe when they are learning to ski. Dress them for the weather. More kids end up complaining that they are hot or sweaty, having been overdressed, rather than under. Use layers to keep heat in but that can be removed if necessary.

HEAD- Your child must wear a helmet. Not only is it safer, some resorts require it. You can purchase or rent a helmet. The best kind have a removable liner that lets the helmet adapt to the weather. A helmet with a liner is warm and will usually cover the ears, so a hat is not required. On warm days, the liner can be removed to keep your child from sweating and being too warm.

Goggles are best for children on all days. Sunglasses don't provide complete protection and tend to slide down or fall off, distracting a child from their lesson and enjoyment.

BODY- Dress your child in layers. On the coldest days, use long underwear as a base layer, put a layer of fleece over that and then the snow pants and coat. Warmer days need only snow pants without a base layer, a thin layer close to the body on top, with a ski jacket. Each day and each child are different. Do not put so many thick layers on your child that they can't bend or move freely.

HANDS- Make sure you put water-proof (or at least resistant) mittens on you small child. They keep the fingers warmer and are easier for them or their coach to get on and off for breaks. Those mittens that have "thinsulate" are good since they are not so thick as to keep their hands from bending, but still keep them warm.

FEET- Don't choose the thickest socks because you think they will keep your child's feet warmer. A medium thickness sock will do on most days and will not cause pinching or numbness of the toes. Boots should be fitted with the help of a professional unless you are an experienced skier, yourself. They need to be snug without being too tight or having pressure points. If your child is renting, have them wear the pair that seems to fit the best around the shop and walk and bounce in them to ensure comfort.

Make sure your child is wearing a helmet and set a good example by wearing one too.
Make sure your child is wearing a helmet and set a good example by wearing one too.
Kids will need a lot of breaks, so many that it might be frustrating if you are skiing with them or teaching them to ski.
Kids will need a lot of breaks, so many that it might be frustrating if you are skiing with them or teaching them to ski.

Ski Lessons for Kids

Start slow by just letting your kids just move around on skis at first.
Start slow by just letting your kids just move around on skis at first. | Source
Group lessons can be a great way for a child to learn. They are less expensive than private lessons, allow children to learn with their peers and are age-appropriate.
Group lessons can be a great way for a child to learn. They are less expensive than private lessons, allow children to learn with their peers and are age-appropriate.

Summary for Parents

**Take it slow with your kids. At a young age, they don't have the stamina to ski all day. They will need frequent breaks and tire easily. Keep your expectations realistic. I heard a parent complain once that they saw their child on two breaks during an all day ski lesson and felt they were wasting their money. Kids need the breaks. If they get exhausted, hungry and dehydrated, they will be miserable and end up hating skiing. That would be a waste of money.

**Learning to ski is frustrating. Try to keep it fun and positive and praise their progress, even if it seems slow to you. Let them "talk it up". Even if they snowplow all the way down the hill, they may be talking about how fast they were going or how they "jumped" (went over a bump). This is good for their confidence. My five year old does this all the time and the more he talks it up, the braver he is the next time he's on the hill.

**Dress them appropriately. I see way more kids who are overdressed rather than underdressed. Layer your children's clothing. If they are taking an all day lesson, you can arrange to meet them at a break or at lunch. If they are sweaty with a red face, consider taking the liner out of their helmet or taking a layer off. Taking long underwear off of their tops works well.

Ski helmets for kids are required at most resorts. Buy a good, well-fitting helmet that gets good reviews from other parents.

Kids ski jackets should be movable and comfortable. This link provides lots of options with a variety of sizes, styles and prices for boys and girls.


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    • Sebastian72012 profile image


      7 years ago

      I enjoyed your article. I am always cold during the winter days and your information on how to dress during skiing was very helpful. It is very important to dress appropriately.

    • TahoeDoc profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Lake Tahoe, California

      Wow, thank World-Traveler! Sierra Ski Resort is still on Highway 50 and is a great place to go with the family (mid-week, as it is hell to get in and out of there most weekends). My 6 year old will be in his 2nd year of lessons at Heavenly this winter and my 4 year old will start. The view from the top still takes my breath away and I've skied a lot of those runs many, many times.

    • World-Traveler profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      I learned how to snow ski at Sierra Ski Ranch on Highway 50 near Little Norway Lodge. I was about 5 years old. After Sierra Ski Ranch I went to Heavenly Valley Ski area. Never turned back. Skiing is indeed an incredible sport. Thanks for the memories. Rated UP,BEAUTIFUL and Tweeted"

    • teamrn profile image


      8 years ago from Chicago

      Tahoe, I admire your approach. If he'd continued his fear of the lift, he wouldn't have continued to ski, unless you pushed him (and that rarely works out). This way, he no longer has the fear of the lift and can make a decision on his own, ARMED WITH REAL INFO/basics, about whether or not skiing is the sport for him. But, he'll always remember that you cared, whether or not he thinks of it that way, enough to give him a thorough ski experience.

    • TahoeDoc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Lake Tahoe, California

      Thanks you two. I had a bit of a struggle with my oldest. He always had so much fun skiing when he was there and would be excited to tell me about it. Then he would dread the next lesson for reasons he couldn't quite tell me. When I took him out myself, I found out that he liked skiing but was afraid of the chairlift. We made a bunch of rounds, and I joined him for part of his next ski school and explained everything to his coach. She has been great helping him get over it and he's loving his ski school again.

      I've seen parents just push their kids to go on without trying to figure out what is going on. The kids end up hating skiing and I know at least one boy that was pushed so hard by his father that at age 5, he refuses to even try it again.

      I'm glad I took the time to figure mine out. He's still a 'cautious' child and always will be, so he won't be in the front of the class doing jumps. But, hopefully, he will develop basic skills and confidence that he can build on later, or decide not to, when he's older.

    • duffsmom profile image

      P. Thorpe Christiansen 

      8 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      Very useful, thank you.

    • teamrn profile image


      8 years ago from Chicago

      "**Learning to ski is frustrating" It's so frustrating that the child may feel that the the best solution is to get from the top to the bottom of the hill as fast as possible, to 'shusch-boom.' (spelling?)

      Children need to know from an early age (IMHO) that the shush-boom is not skiing; and to be a speed skier, basics need to be learned. To 'get around' this, parents ought to praise every attempt the child makes to ski, even if it is to do the snow-plow all the way down the hill.


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