Every enthusiastic skier will also want to take their children to the slopes. What, however, is the right age to start learning to ski? And what is the best way to teach children how to ski? The following guide comprises many helpful tips and advice on children learning how to ski.
The right age: how early is too early?
The first question most parents ask themselves is: When can or should our child start learning how to ski? It is generally recommendable to start as early as possible, at about 3 years of age or older. Especially at an early age, children learn very quickly, which means they can pick up on how to ski without much effort.
Nevertheless, experts advise against taking your kids skiing at a too-early age. In order to be safe and not risk long-term injuries, certain groups of muscles must be sufficiently developed. The ideal age to start is therefore three or four years. When snowboarding, it is advisable to wait until the age of six or seven, as the necessary muscles are not strong enough beforehand and the risk of injury is too high.
If you also consider sending your children to a ski school, you should make sure that they are already used to bigger groups. But even if the age is right, you should never demand too much of your children: two to two and a half hours on the piste are more than enough for the little ones. Skiing is exhausting, and when children are tired they get injured more easily. This is why especially in the beginning, less is more.
Finding the right equipment for children
Children grow very fast, and clothes that fit today will already be much too small in a few months. Because of this, buying new equipment and clothes for your child every season can get very expensive. There are, however, less expensive options: Many cities have regular ski bazaars where parents can buy used equipment. In addition, parents can exchange the equipment they have purchased each year via online bazaars or special ski exchange systems for children. So if you buy equipment once, you only pay a small exchange fee and can re-equip your children every year.
One part of the equipment for children are, of course, mainly the skis. If possible, children should have carving skis, as those are easier to handle in curves. The skis should be examined every year, and an expert should prepare them before every ski holiday. It is very important to have the bindings individually adjusted to the child.
The skis itself should never be bigger than the child and they should best reach up to the chin. The ski boots have a hard outer shell. When it comes to the fit, it is ideal if there is about 1 cm of space in between the inner shoe and the big toe.
Apart from the skis, the following items belong to children’s equipment:
- Skiing goggles
- Helmet (in most places, children up to the age of 15 must wear a helmet)
Apart from that, children should wear breathable functional clothing so that they are well protected against cold and wind. Sunscreen must not be forgotten either!
Ski school for children – yes or no?
Opinions differ on the question of whether children should learn how to ski from their parents or in a ski school. Some parents are excellent teachers, and when the piste is not too full and well prepared, nothing speaks against teaching your children how to ski on your own. There are also children who strictly refuse to take part in ski lessons. Then you should not force them to, so that the new hobby does not become torture.
In most cases, however, it will be more educational for children to take part in ski lessons. First of all, children learn better and faster when they are in a group, and secondly, ski schools often have special pistes for children away from the regular, hectic ski action in the ski area. The pistes are also very evenly levelled and have special conveyor belts or children’s lifts to help get up to the summit, so that children do not tire too quickly. Most ski schools accept children from 3 to 4 years of age.
Before taking their kids on a ski holiday, parents should find out which options there are available for the small ones, and how exactly the lessons are organised. Are there separate pistes for children? How large are the groups? Groups of 10 or more children are usually already too big! How long do the lessons last per day? Do the ski instructors have a special qualification to work with children?
Some resorts even offer all-year ski lessons indoors. Especially in Southern Germany, in Austria in Switzerland, there are ski clubs where children can learn to ski. Here, you should make sure that the club is certified by a professional association, so that the smallest ones are guaranteed to have the most fun and the highest security.
Children love snow and are usually enthusiastic about skiing right at the beginning. Children learn particularly quickly at a young age, which is why it is worth to start skiing at an early age. However, you should not exaggerate it, so that you do not to expose the children to an unnecessary risk of injury, or overwhelm them right from the start. It is particularly easy for children to learn to ski in a group, such as in a club, in a ski association or in a ski school. If children can approach skiing gently and with enjoyment, you can ensure that they are well protected and will have a lot of fun.
The most important questions about skiing for children
What is the minimum age for children to learn to ski?
Generally: the earlier the better. The muscles are strong enough to ski from the age of three or four, so that it is not recommended to start at an earlier age. It is better to start snowboarding at the age of six or seven.
Where can I find inexpensive children’s equipment for skiing?
Ski bazaars offer used equipment for children, and on exchange bazaars, you can exchange it every season for a small fee.
What are the essential parts of the equipment?
Apart from skis (ideally carving skis), a helmet, ski boots, functional clothing, ski goggles, a cap, scarf and gloves are part of the equipment for children. Sunscreen must also be applied in any case.
Should children go to ski school?
It is not strictly necessary for children to learn to ski in a ski school. In some places there are ski clubs for children, and also the parents themselves can teach their children how to ski. Nevertheless, children learn most effectively in groups, and ski lessons for children often offer special pistes away from the heavy frequented descents, which are well levelled and have conveyor belts. The offer is different in each ski area, which is why parents should inform themselves in advance.