Heading to the ski hill with your kids? You can hire an instructor for ski lessons, but we’ve always found paying for lessons to be too expensive after buying tickets and food, so we have always opted to help kids learn to ski without lessons. My husband and I both started skiing at very young ages, so with this history of skiing, we felt confident we could help our kids learn to ski without lessons. Read our 20 Important Tips To Teach Your Kids to Ski to help your own family enjoy this sport.
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It’s super fun to ski with kids! I hope your family tries out this awesome fun sport! It’s a great way to make memories and have some family fun:)
20 Important Tips To Teach Your Kids to Ski:
Check the Weather Before You Plan to Ski
1. Pick a day with good weather. Choose a day with good weather that is on the warm side.
Learning to ski can be hard, if the weather is cold and harsh, it contributes to the kids’ frustration if they are having difficulties with learning to ski. When it’s nicer weather, it’s just easier for kids to learn and focus. It’s hard to concentrate if there is a low wind chill, strong winds, or extremely low temperatures.
Simple Skills & Tips of Downhill Skiing
Disclaimer: I am not a professional ski instructor, but I have helped three kids to learn to ski. Always seek professional advice for safety and best practice tips. This is based on my own personal mom experience;)
2. Teach the Wedge. Teach your kids the wedge. When I was a kid, we called it the snow plow, but now it’s called the wedge. It’s simply pointing the tips of the skis together to make a wedge or triangle shape where the tips are close, but not overlapped, and the back of the skis are spread wide. This will give them balance and control.
Teach your kids to spread the back of the wedge to slow down if they are going too fast or if they need to slow down.
Be sure to tell your kids don’t cross the ski tips. Crossed ski tips can cause them to fall.
3. Arms out in front of the body. Tell them to put their arms out and up in front of their body like a zombie. They will like being a zombie for the day!
They don’t want their arms behind them because this can cause them to fall. They could hold their hands together if they need an idea to keep them out front.
4. Bend knees slightly. Make sure they know to bend knees slightly as they go down the hill.
5. Lean forward. It is best if they lean slightly forward as they go down the hill so they don’t fall backwards.
6. Learning to turn is essential. Teach them to turn on skis by looking one direction and then lifting their heel on their opposite side of where they are looking to turn (ie. look left, raise and shift right heel out, when looking right, then raise and shift left heel out).
I’ve found kids learning to ski don’t have to look one way, but they do need to lift their heel and put weight on the other foot to turn. My youngest doesn’t look but does do the foot action. They can alternate and repeat this action to switch it to the other side, back and forth. They can slowly traverse the hill back and forth while going down.
Learning to turn will also help them avoid just speeding down the hill like a rocket and geting out of control. Getting out of control can lead to a bad fall which can cause an injury. We don’t need that fellow mamas!
The Magic Carpet
6. Teach them to use the magic carpet properly. In the United States, we often have what’s called the magic carpet to bring people up the bunny hill. It’s a belt that people stand on to ride. As people stand on it, the belt delivers people up the hill.
When kids go onto the magic carpet, tell them to lean foward while walking on and riding on the magic carpet. They should also bend their knees slightly. If they lean back, they may fall backwards as the belt grips their skis. They should also keep their skis uncrossed and parallel on the belt as they ride up.
Practice as Many Times as it Takes on the Bunny Hill Before Progressing Kids to a Bigger Hill
7. Practice on the bunny hill first. Kids who are learning to ski should go down the bunny hill as many times as it takes to ensure they are comfortable with using the wedge to control their speed. Plus, you want them to they have developed some good ability to turn before they tackle a bigger hill.
Once they can accomplish these skills, have them try an easy hill with the green circle symbol equipped with a chairlift. In the US, the green circle is the easiest level at the ski hill after the bunny hill (I’m not sure if it is this way internationally). Then it is blue, black diamond, and double black diamond.
If your child has skiied, but he or she hasn’t skiied in a year or more, it’s best to start out the day on the bunny hill until they reaquaint themselves with skiing skills.
Tips for Riding up the Chairlift
8. Teach kids how to safely ride the chairlift. When kids are ready for a bigger hill, head over to the chairlift. They will need to learn to safely get on the chairlift, however, the operator can stop it if your child falls.
I’ll be honest, the chairlift scares me with young kids! But, they can learn to do it with parent help.
Kids need to hustle to loading zone right as the chair ahead of them passes by. It’s not the time to be hesitant!
They also need to line themselves up properly so the side bars of the chaiflift don’t hit them. My husband and I have found younger kids even up to age eight need help and guidance while loading onto a chairlift because they aren’t always aware. For this reason, one of us always rode the chairlift next to our kids when young.
9. Put the bar down to rest their feet and legs. Put the foot rest down while riding the chairlift to rest feet while riding up the hill. The skis pull heavily on feet, so it helps to rest them on the bar. This bar often helps kids (and parents!) feel safer on the chairlift. I like the bar barrier especially with younger kids, it’s a long way to fall if they lean forward too far. (ugh, again, chairlifts are scary with the very young! Kinda makes me shudder!)
10. Teach them and talk them through the unloading process. Have them scoot forward a little bit to the edge of the seat when about to get off the chair lift and stand up when on top of the hill for exiting the chairlift. My youngest always wanted to scoot to the edge too early which made me nervous. I was always afraid he will scoot forward too far and fall so I always had to remind him to wait to scoot until we are about to unload.
Take Lots of Breaks to Stop in the Chalet
11. Rest and recharge. Go into the chalet to eat, rest, hydrate, use the bathroom as often as needed. This will help kids last for a longer day at the ski hill.
Chalets usually have food for sale, but most allow people to bring in their own food. Often there are lockers too, so people can store their food they brought in the lockers while they ski and have easy access to it when they come in for a break.
Tip: Be sure to bring extra quarters for the lockers! (or breaks for some video games;)
Dress in Layers
12. Weather can change throughout the day, dress to be prepared for it. Dressing in layers is important for all outdoor activities so layers can be removed easily or added back on if needed. A locker comes in handy to store discarded clothing as well.
Even if it’s very warm for the day, have them wear a long sleeve shirt under their jacket in case they want to remove their jacket, this way they won’t be wearing a short sleeve shirt only and find themselves too cold at the top of the hill. It can get very warm with spring skiing so I find my kids often want to ditch their jackets.
Other Items to Wear
13. Wear all the gear. Some of these items are obvious for cold weather, but it never hurts to have a checklist! List of other items to wear while skiing:
- goggles or sunglasses
- long underwear as needed
- long socks as needed or short socks if the boots are tight
- neck up (better than a scarf for tow ropes, as loose articles can be dangerous)
- face mask as needed
- ski jacket
- snow pants
- comfortable pants under the snow pants
When I was a kid, no one wore helmets, but now it is the norm. This makes me happy because kids are more protected, plus helmets keep the head warm. This is the helmet we have and we love it. There are many styles out there to choose from however.
Traverse Sports Dirus Convertible Ski & Snowboard/Bike & Helmet, Matte Obsidian, Medium (55-59cm)
14. To make skiing more economical, rent or buy used equipment. Skis and boots can be very expensive and kids grow quickly needing new equipment almost every year. Consider buying used equipment at a local swap meet or rent the skis. Unless you have kids to hand the stuff down to, sell any equipment your kids outgrow so you can buy new used equipment.
We do have used skis, boots, and poles for our three boys and we simply pass them down as they outgrow them, but we always buy used equipment because they outgrow it so fast! It’s a fun sport to do with your family, but it is very expensive to pay for lift tickets and ski equipment.
Rental is nice because kids can try out different types of skis without committing to one type or brand of skis, boots, or poles.
Other Tips for Skiing With Kids
15. Skip the poles. Don’t use poles unless you will be on a lot of flat ground, when on flat ground, poles are helpful for traversing flat areas. Starting out skiing is actually easier without poles. Some kids prefer to never use poles (my middle son is this way).
16. Consider the weather forecast before deciding where to put the ticket. I don’t recommend putting lift ticket on the main zipper of the jacket because it may flap in the child’s face as they go down the hill. No one wants to be slapped in the chin by a ticket!
Choose a zipper for a jacket pocket or on the snowpants for attaching the ticket to your child. If it’s warm, the best idea is to put the lift ticket on the snowpants so they can remove their jacket if thet get hot. The ticket just needs to be visible. Many lift operators will not allow riders without the ticket on their clothing. We have also asked for a fresh ticket when we did put it on the jacket and my son wanted to take his jacket off. We have found the ski hill has been willing to switch it out in this case.
Progress to More Advanced Hills Slowly
17. Take it slow! Don’t try to advance too soon because if your child gets injured skiing, they may become fearful of it and not want to ski again. Take it slow for progression and progress in order. Our kids always have wanted to go to the big hills right away when learning to ski. Of course they want to ski where the adults and big brothers ski, but we always waited until we were sure before trying a harder hill.
None of us need any broken bones!
Not all easy green circle labeled hills are the same, some have a steeper incline than others. Try to assess the hill yourself before taking your child goes down during the early learning to ski phase.
18. Try to pick less busy hills while they are learning. We have found that skiing during the week is better because it is less busy. When the hills are less busy, it is less likely they will crash into another skier or risk getting smashed into themselves.
Extras to Pack for a Day at the Ski Hill With Kids:
19. What to pack for a day skiing with kids:
- waterproof phone case
- zipper sealed plastic baggies for your phone
- book if needed for something to do while resting in the chalet
- extra snacks and water for the drive home (mine almost always want water and often a snack on the drive home after a long day of skiing)
- small travel pack of tissues
- sunscreen if it’s sunny out
- lip balm for dried out, chapped, or wind burned lips
- extra pair of gloves in case kids’ gloves get soaked
- portable cell phone charger because the cold often zaps cell phones of energy rather quickly
The Younger the Child, the More Help They May Need Going Down the Hill
20. Teaching young kids to ski takes a lot of patience and sweat. My husband and I started each of our kids skiing at the age of three or four. Teaching kids these ages to ski is a lot of work. They often need you to help them hold up their bodies while they go down the hill at first. We would often go down the hill with them between our legs….so exhausting! I’m sure ski instructors have a better way to teach these little kiddos to ski!
Just expect to help a lot if you are teaching a young child to ski. And don’t plan to stay too long, it’s very exhausting to teach the very young to ski!
However, t’s very rewarding to see the joy on their little faces as they soar down a hill, but be prepared for a workout! When we took our kids at the ages of three and four, we only lasted about three hours before we were utterly exhausted!
They eventually learn to stand up and go down the hill on their own. Then, skiing with them is glorious!
Bonus! And Tips for Skiing With Older Kids
Skiing with older kids is a very fun family activity. It’s great bonding time because there is nothing to do but talk while riding up the chairlift. This is a great bonus for riding the chairlift with them because you can talk to your tween or teen and keep the conversation going.
If older kids go skiing off on their own, make sure they take a map of the ski hill so they know which runs will bring them back to the chalet. This is also helpful if they want to avoid a certain level of hill, like the black diamond hills. Or, they may want to find the black diamond hills;)
We always take our cell phones and have our kids bring theirs as well, but sometimes there is no service and phones don’t work at ski hills. I’ve found each hill will be different with regards to cell service working or not.
Plan a meeting time and location and stick to it so you can check in with them.
I hope my post with 20 Important Tips To Teach Your Kids to Ski helps you out on the slopes with your kiddos! You can teach them to ski even if you aren’t a ski instructor, we taught our kids! And remember to breathe and have fun!
Drop me a comment sometime and let me know how it goes for you and your family:)
Copyright ©2018 Julie Hoag. All Rights Reserved.
Images by Pexels unless noted in this post.
Helen Little says
Amazing tips! I’ve only been skiing once, and the wedge was the first thing I learned. And the best thing! I’ll be sure to remember these tips when we teach my son to ski. Thank you.
Julie Hoag says
The wedge is probably THE MOST important thing to learn at first when learning to ski because without it, you can’t slow down. The wedge is how people control their speed. I hope my tips are helpful to you and your son:) Thanks for the comment.
Kim @ Berly's Kitchen says
This is a great list of tips, and it’s awesome that you listed some things to do besides skiing. I’ve never been but would love to learn. I didn’t realize how much actually went into skiing. Wow!!
Julie Hoag says
Skiing is so much fun and a great family past time. My kids have always loved it so much. I hope you go and enjoy it!! Thanks for the comment!!
Great advice! Growing up, my father took me and my brothers skiing when we were young. My husband and I have been debating when would be a good age to start our now 4 year old! Thanks for the tips!
Julie Hoag says
I have such great memories of skiing with my own family from when I was a child. Now I have great memories skiing with my own kids. I think 4 is a good age to start, but as I mentioned, it is a lot of work teaching 3 and 4 year olds, but it is doable. The older kids get, the more they are able to stand up on their own and control themselves while on the hill. I hope you enjoy it when you go!! Thanks!
My kids want to learn so bad! This is so helpful!
Julie Hoag says
Skiing is such a fun family past time! My boys just love it! We have great memories from skiing together and I love that it is a sport people can do for their entire lives. Have fun with you go! I hope my tips help:) Thank you!!
Good tips for not only kids, but beginners who have never been skiing like myself
Julie Hoag says
Thanks! Skiing is so fun and great exercise. I hope my tips help you and you enjoy:)
This is fantastic! I just happen to see this pin in my feed and I wanted to say that this is brilliant. My daughter is getting ready to start Ski club. I have personally never been skiing. However, I highly want to go! This was the best post I could have read because I was a little nervous about her starting without knowing anything and this is so helpful! Thanks for creating this! It is truly brilliant and very helpful. I also love your guinea pig tips post! We have two ourselves! Thanks again for the helpful posts. I really appreciate! I hope you and your family have a wonderful New Year!!!!! 🙂
Julie Hoag says
Thank you so much!!! I appreciate your words so much!! I hope my tips help with the skiing:) and make it a fun and memorable experience for you both! My middle son is doing ski club now too and he loves it so very much. We love our guinea pigs! They are so much fun, we have two also, I hope you enjoy time with your little sweet piggies! Happy New Year to you and your family also!! Thanks for visiting my site.