The debate is on-going as to what age children should start skiing. Some instructors believe that if you can walk you can ski and others feel that children should be older than 4 so that they can use their gross motor skills to ski.
So what is the right age to get your child a snowboard or pair of skis? To play it safe, 4 or 5 years of age is acceptable as by this stage most children have been exposed to classroom situations and are therefore more familiar with the idea of learning. This means they can be better prepared for a skiing lesson as opposed to a younger child, ultimately though the decision is up to the parents and whether or not the child is ready to snowboard or ski.
If you think it is time for your child to hit the slopes, you could start by finding out what age your local ski resort suggests is appropriate – many resorts will accept children at the age of around 2 to start on skis. You’ll also need to find out how much time your child will be spending on the snow. Children under 4 years of age have extremely short attention spans and would only really cope with an hour or so on the slopes.
You’ll also need to be aware that your child may spend more time playing in the snow instead of wanting to learn a snow sport. If he or she does end up spending more time playing and having snow fights or exploring the snow and not skiing very much, this is still a good outing that creates a positive association with snow.
You will definitely need to make sure that your child is potty trained. Sometimes cold weather will result in them having to go to the bathroom so be sure to let them go every time they are inside. Many an instructor has known to pass on the mantra of “no pee, no ski!”
A number of ski schools offer beginner instruction for children between the ages of 2 and 6. The lessons will consist of instruction in turning, balancing and stopping and will be conducted in a positive an encouraging manner as opposed to forcing a child to learn. A fun programme is typically provided to make sure that children have a positive first experience on the slopes. Staff usually receive training in not only ski instruction, CPR and First Aid, but also in child development.
Whatever age you decide is right for your child, be sure to enforce the wearing of ski helmets that will offer protection from collisions and falls. You can rent a helmet at most resorts but owning one ensures it is in tip top condition for your child.