Getting your kids skiing – what you should know

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Getting your kids skiing – what you should know

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Skiing is a sport that can be enjoyed by everyone in the family, even kids. Although you can learn to ski at any age, learning while you are young and fearless is probably the best recipe for becoming a lifelong skier. We have found that 3 is a great age for kids to get on skis for the first time. Here are some things you should know about getting your kids skiing.

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Age 3 is a great time to start your kids skiing

While it is nice to own your own gear, renting for the day or the season are both great options for beginning skiers. If you are only planning to ski a few times a season, consider just renting for the day. Most ski shops have kids’ packages for as little as $20, which includes boots, skis and poles (if needed). You can also rent a helmet. If you are going to hit the slopes a little more regularly you can rent a package for the entire season for less than $150. This is great because you don’t have to worry about the hassle of renting before each outing and if your child outgrows equipment mid-season or advances quickly you can upgrade with no additional cost.

If your child is a little older and not growing as quickly, it may make sense buy equipment new or at a ski swap. A ski swap is a great way to get gently used equipment for a great deal. Just search for ski swaps in your area, but most tend to take place in late summer/early fall. If you have other kids that will eventually use the ski equipment it may make sense to purchase rather than rent.

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Skiing is great way to spend time together as a family and enjoy the outdoors

Nothing can kill a ski day faster than your child being cold and wet. Having good gear is essential to a great ski experience. Although gear can be expensive, your kids can use it for other outdoor activities outside of skiing such as sledding, winter park trips or just building a snowman in the backyard. Our kids use their ski gear every day to play outside during recess in winter months. Although it can be pricey, it is worth it to invest in quality. You can even buy things a little bigger to get more than one season of use out of it. Here is the essential gear you will need prior to your first ski outing with the kids:

  • Jacket – the key here is you want something thick enough to keep kids warm on their way up the ski lift but not so heavy that they are sweating on the way down or have difficultly moving because of bulk. Ensure that the jacket is waterproof/water-resistant and we recommend one with a zip out mid layer so it can be used in cold and warmer conditions.
  • Pants –these should be waterproof and insulated. Bibs are really the best option for younger children. They keep snow and wind away from skin.
  • Long underwear – base layers are essential to keeping kids warm. Polyester long underwear is a great option because the pieces are thin and additional layers such as sweaters can easily slip on over the top of them. Avoid 100% cotton because it will not dry when wet and instead look for polyester or merino wool material Also make sure that long underwear is form fitting but not too tight.
  • Socks – invest in a nice pair of ski socks. Most likely the only socks you have on hand are cotton or too short. Ski socks should be made from a blend of wool and synthetic fibers and be long enough to come up past the top of your child’s boot. Something with moderate padding will also help your child’s feet comfortable and protected.
  • Neck Gaiter – a gaiter is a handy way to protect your child’s neck and lower face from the elements. Most kids don’t like turtlenecks or their ski jacket zipped too high so a gaiter can offer protection and comfort. Get one of our awesome jaMo Threads Adventure Neck Gaiters for kids.
  • Mittens – mittens work better than gloves for keeping hands warm and are much easier for kids, especially young kids, to get on and off. Make sure that mittens are waterproof and insulated and come up a few inches past the wrist. That way you can tuck them under the sleeves of the jacket to keep out snow.
  • Helmet – even though you probably never wore a helmet as a kid, it is an essential piece of gear for protecting against falls and collisions with other skiers or objects. Most helmets are adjustable so they can be used for several ski seasons. Although you can rent a helmet for the season, it is a good investment to own your own and have peace of mind knowing that it hasn’t been compromised in an accident.
  • Goggles – You can get a decent pair of kid goggles for $25 – $30. And, if you store them properly in a soft case they can last for several seasons. Look for medium-tint lenses so your child can see well in both bright and flat light.

Ski Lessons
We know a lot of people who have taught their kids to ski themselves. And while we totally applaud them, lessons were the best option for us.

Most resorts offer ski lessons for kids as young as 3 years old, however, some do require kids to be a little older. Make sure you research the options available at your local resort. Generally there is a choice for half day or full day lessons. For kids 3 to 4 years, a half day is probably sufficient. If your child naps in the afternoon sending them all day could actually be a negative experience if they get overly tired.

Although you can opt for one-off lessons, you get the best deals when you purchase a lesson package and when you purchase it EARLY. For example, a one-off, all-day lesson where we send our kids is more than $200. But, if you purchase a five week lesson package before October 1, the price for that same lesson comes down to $85.

Season Passes
We invested in ski passes for our kids this year, especially because they were only $25 each. Most resorts allow kids under the age of 6 to ski for free or for a very small fee. In some cases that will extend until age 12. Again, make sure to get these passes early for the best prices. A season pass gives you the flexibility to get out and take a few runs without the pressure of feeling like you need to stay out all day because you paid a lot of money.

Getting kids skiing - What to know, jaMo Threads, Adventure Head and Neck Gaiter, Magic Carpet

Practicing skiing on the magic carpet at Park City Resort, Utah

Not ready for ski lessons yet?
There are a lot of things you can do to get your kids comfortable on skis even before they may be ready for formal lessons. Practice putting on boots and skis and walking around. You can even start in the living room before you move outdoors. Kids can get comfortable with shuffling to move forward or trying to turn and maneuver like would be required for getting on a ski lift.

Your local resort may even have a magic carpet, or a “people mover” that takes you up a short practice hill. And it’s free! This was awesome when our kids were first learning. We didn’t even put on our skis and boots, we just had on regular snow boots which made is really easy to help our kids on and off the magic carpet.

Don’t have a magic carpet close by….what about a gentle hill at your neighborhood school or park? It is just important to have kids experience the feeling of moving on skis without the fear of a steep hill or outside dangers. No resort is required.

Getting kids skiing - What you Need to Know, jaMo Threads, Adventure Head and Neck Gaiters

Using “edgie wedgies” to practice snowplows

Practice Tools
There are a lot of great items you can utilize when your kids are just getting started skiing. An “edgie wedgie” is a short piece of plastic that connects ski tips and makes it easier for your child to hold a snowplow or pizza shape. It also keeps ski tips from becoming crossed.

You can also try a ski harness which has long leashes attached to help control your child’s speed and direction. A harness is a great tool for helping your child gain confidence, while also giving you piece of mind in knowing your child is in control on the slopes. We used these with our kids at the same time as the edgie wedgies. There is also a handle on the harness which makes picking up your child and getting them back on their feet much easier. And although we haven’t tried it personally, friends have successfully used hula hoops to have their kids ski between their legs and have something to hold onto.

Getting our kids skiing - what you need to know, jaMo Threads, Adventure Head and Neck Gaiters

Keep skiing fun for kids by taking time to have a little fun, like a BBQ in the parking lot

Tips for Success
As anyone with kids knows, ensuring a successful outing goes way beyond the gear and equipment. If you are just starting out, keep these things in mind:

  • Make learning fun – reward your kids with stickers after a good run or grab a hot chocolate at the lodge after lessons. These are the things your kids will probably remember the most when they are starting out.
  • Take breaks – kids tire out a lot more quickly than adults so it is important to take regular breaks. Head inside every few runs to warm up or grab a quick snack.
  • Ski with friends – if you know other people with young kids learning to ski, make it a group outing. Not only does just being with friends make it more fun, sometimes seeing another kid tackle a challenge can be big motivation. It’s the good kind of peer pressure.
  • Know when to call it quits – after you have invested the time and effort to get up to the slopes, the last thing you want to do is cut your day short. But, sometimes you have to with kids. The most important thing is to make skiing something fun and positive. There will just be days when either the weather or your child’s attitude is unforgiving. In those moments sometimes it is best to cut your losses and call it a day.

Happy skiing everyone!

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