Timberline, Mt Hood, Oregon Ski SchoolSo your kids are finally ready to learn to ski?  It’s every ski parent’s dream to pass on their love and passion of skiing to their kids.  For a skiing family, learning to ski is just as crucial as walking and talking.  The day will soon arrive when your child, tired of going to daycare while they see Mom and Dad go off to the slopes, asks you to teach them how to ski.   Ski resorts strive to make their daycare extraordinarily fun because they know that those kids are the next generation of skiers or boarders who will be spending money at their resort, but even super cool ski resort daycare only goes so far to satisfy most children. The next question for many ski parents is, “do I teach my kid how to ski myself or do I put him in lessons?”

On a normal day in the life of a kid, they are expected to behave in school or in daycare just as an adult would at work because this is what our society expects.  But as any parent knows, as soon as their child gets home and the exhaustion from a day of having to hold their emotions and behaviors in check, many a tantrum is thrown.  We as parents are also exhausted from the day and our reaction to their tantrum is not always how we would hope it would be.  This is a totally normal behavior, because we all feel a sense of safety and comfort at home and know that this is where we are allowed to relax.  It is this normal pattern of daily routines and parent/child interactions, which help explain why teaching your own child how to ski is not often the best course of action.

Not a day goes by that I’m on the lift watching a parent struggle to teach their kiddo how to snowplow (i.e. keeping their skis in a pizza shape), while killing their back and legs while bending over helping to keep their little skier from zooming out  of control, down the slope.  It’s part of the normal progression for beginning skiers to get frustrated, because they can’t figure out how to make their skis do what they want.  Skiing is not an easy sport to learn, especially for littles who are still learning to control their own limbs.  When you add to the mix two slippery pieces of wood, two very tight boots and cold temperatures, you end up with a recipe for pure frustration.  When your child gets frustrated and uncomfortable and you are the one trying to help them and teach them to ski, the normal reactions between parent and child often get in the way of an effective learning environment and hinder the child’s progress and just make for a dismal day for both of you.

As a former ski instructor myself and having grown up with a Certified PSIA ski instructor Dad, even I thought I’d save some money and teach my own son how to ski.  After regrettably ignoring my own father’s advice not to teach him myself, I went out on a mission to teach my son how to ski.  One entire ski season later, realizing that neither of us was having much fun when we were together on the slopes, which is so not the point of skiing and feeling like a complete failure,  I decided to put him in a series of lessons with Mogul Busters Ski Schoolat one of our local ski hills, Mt Hood Ski Bowl.  I wanted so badly for him to really enjoy skiing and for us not to be frustrated with each other, that I just hoped and prayed that this would work.

After only the second lesson of a four lesson package, my little boy was screaming down the hill somewhat in control, in his snowplow looking for jumps.  I was absolutely floored and could hear my Dad’s voice in my head saying, “I told you so”.  He learned more in two lessons than what I was able to convey to him in an entire ski season.  Kids interact and learn much better from an instructor who isn’t related to them, exactly the same way they learn in school with their regular teacher.   Once your child has the basics of stopping and turning down, then teaching them additional skills is much easier and way more enjoyable.

So…my advice, coming from a family of ski instructors, is to save up and pay your local ski school for a package of at least four lessons. If you plan ahead and look early or late in the season or around Black Friday, you can often get a package of lessons at a very reasonable price.  Putting your child in ski school is an excellent investment in your child’s skiing future.   You will both be much happier, less frustrated and you won’t kill your back in the process.

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