Toddler Ski: Tips for Tots
Did the amazing Alexandre Bilodeau and his Olympic success inspire you to get your kids on the slopes? Beginner skiing is way more about balance and getting comfortable on skis than it is about going fast downhill.
Here are a few quick tips for good times with the tinies – on skis.
1. Let them get used to the equipment
An instructor at Horseshoe Resort gave us an amazing tip: Take your kiddo out in the backyard to play in the snow — wearing ski boots. Even if you’re only going once this season and plan to rent gear, it might be worth getting a second-hand pair of boots, which you can find in almost perfect condition for as little as $30-35 on Kijiji or used sporting goods stores like Play It Again Sports. (You’ll need to know ski boot size: this useful chart with kids’ shoe size and corresponding ‘Mondo’ ski boot size will help)
Give your child a chance to play around wearing the equipment (put on a helmet while you’re at it) — it will get them comfortable and boost their confidence when it’s time for a lesson. Making a game of putting on the boots and getting outside will build up anticipation for ski day, too.
Even if you’re renting, arrive early enough so your child can play in the snow wearing their gear.
2. Start with a private lesson
Having tried both options with a three-year-old, I’m a fan of toddlers and preschoolers getting more hands-on attention and one-on-one encouragement that comes with a private lesson.
Private lessons are typically shorter in duration, but your two-year-old may not want to be out there more than 45 minutes anyway! In a group setting, you might find that some of their time is spent waiting for their turn, so the longer time they spend on the hill may not translate into more instruction time.
If you ski yourself, a great follow-up to an introductory private lesson is a parent-and-tot lesson. Horseshoe offers ‘Mommy and Me’ lessons — and Dads are more than welcome, of course. (Scroll down and click ‘private lessons.’)
3. Stop the minute they’re not having fun
Just prior to my then two-year-old’s first lesson, I quizzed a few parents on the bunny slope at Blue Mountain: Did they have any tips? “The minute they cry that they’re tired, just call it a day and get some hot chocolate,” said one ski dad. This advice was echoed by many of the parents.
Though it might be frustrating if your little one wants to stop for the day after 15 minutes outside (especially when it takes longer just to get the gear on) it’s just not worth forming a negative association. Parents on the hill are an incredible resource and have great advice to give, so talk to them out there.
and finally …
If you think your preschooler will be shy or nervous during their first lesson, do lots of reassuring when you drop them off — and then don’t make eye contact. A lot of the toddlers look perfectly happy as they come out the door with their teacher, but get teary once they see their parents.
Seriously: Those teachers are used to working with little ones, and they need to establish a trusting bond with your child. Of course, once your kiddo has got the hang of it, they’ll be delighted to see you cheering them on at the bottom of the (very gentle) slope.
It’s a great feeling all around!
If you’ve taken your little one skiing, we’d love to hear about it.