fav day skiIt’s not uncommon to want to live vicariously through our children, so it’s not surprising that many avid skiers or snowboarders can’t wait to get little Johnny or Susie on their first skis or board.  We wish that we personally had started when we were younger, so we’re itching to get them out there as soon as they can walk.  But how early is too early?  What age should start your kid skiing or snowboarding?

I’ve talked with many instructors over the years and although it seems to vary, 3-4 years old is usually the general consensus. What they emphasize more is understanding your child and what’s right for them.  Many kids at the age of 3-4 are fearless, which is why many suggest it as a good starting point. Some however, tend to be more timid, and a poor initial experience may be enough to keep them away from the sport for years.  Bring it up to them, and gauge their level of interest, but most importantly don’t force them to be ready before they actually are.

Sliding down a small slope in the backyard isn’t a bad way to start off, but there are also many tools to get your youngster started at your local resort. A group lesson is often the perfect starting point. Learning with other kids creates a fun atmosphere where having fun is the main goal.  I’ve also found that when kids are in groups with other kids, they are more apt to do what the group is doing. A good initial experience is key to them wanting to continue with the sport.  The use of a training harness is also a great way to keep them in control while boosting their confidence, as it allows you to guide them while also regulating their speed.  Tip clips connect the tips of your little ones skis together and are also great for helping them learn to position their skis in a way that they can learn to turn and stop. If a snowboard is more of what your child desires then get them started with the Burton Riglet board.  A soft super flexy plastic board, the Riglet comes with the “Riglet Reel”, a retractable pull cord on the nose of the board which allows you to pull your child around in backyard, or in one of Burton’s Riglet Reel Parks. The Riglet allows them to learn balance by either having them stand on its foam pad or as they progress, by allowing you to mount normal snowboard bindings on it. It’s a great confidence builder.

Overall, whether your kid is 4 or 14, it’s important to make sure that they want to learn how to ski or snowboard. If they do want to, get them started out the right way and with the right equipment. If you want to share your passion and love for the sport, start off first by sharing your support. The goal should not be for them to become a pro, but rather for them to find something that they will love.  Here are a few tips that might make the experience more fun:

  • Keep kids warm.
  • When kids are ready to be done, don’t force them to do more.
  • Let them learn at their pace, not yours.
  • Hire an instructor or put them in a group lesson.  A professional will be able to demonstrate the right techniques to learn in a way kids can understand.

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