Old man winter has taken over the thermostat. Temperatures are dropping around the northern hemisphere and mountains are starting to see a few flakes of snow. All too soon ski lifts chairs will be moving up the mountain, bringing ski enthusiasts, young and old, into a magical winter wonderland. If you have little ones now is the time to bring them up and set them loose on the trail. OK, well maybe they will need a little help first. Here are some suggestions for teaching kids to ski & snowboard!

Ski School

Parents send their children off to preschool and kindergarten to give them a head start in life. They are taught by those with the skills to shape young minds and teach them their ABCs. Most of all, these teachers have the patience it takes to teach an eager toddler about things they want to know. The same is true of ski school. Instructors are passionate about their sport and they want to pass it on to the next generation.

Sign your toddler/ beginning skier up for a lesson. If you are a pro and feel confident you can teach them on your own, by all means do, but if you are like many parents, send them off to school. Let them play and learn with their peers. At this age peer pressure is a beautiful thing. Timid skiers are more apt to hit the magic carpet with their new best friend than if mom and dad are telling them they have to do it. Instructors know how to take it one step at a time as a child builds his or her confidence on those two slippery sticks you just strapped to their legs.

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Sporting some fashionable winter wear

There is a lot of new gear your child may be introduced to on the slopes. Helmets, goggles, snow pants, gloves, ski boots and skis are all part of the fun. Let your child take charge of their experience. Bring them shopping. Test out a few pairs of goggles. They are more likely to wear them if they actually like them. If your daughter wants to buy those hot pink goggles and pair them with lime green ski pants, go for it! When it comes to ski wear the skies the limit. Just think how much easier she will be to find on the slopes.

Winter fashion is all about showing off your personal tastes. As long as your child will be warm and protected that helmet with the flames and skulls isn’t a big deal. The important thing is that he will wear his helmet and protect that beautiful brain of his.

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Breaks

Many ski schools limit lesson times or involve a daycare center where your kids can take a break. If not, be prepared to get off the slopes yourself and take your child to grab some food, take a nap or hop in the pool at the lodge if possible. Trying something new is really exciting, but it is also tiring. If you think your kid needs a nap when you are at home, or a little quiet time, assume they will need it doubly so after a morning on the bunny hill.

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Make it fun

Above all else, remember that skiing is supposed to be fun. You cannot force your child to love it even if you do. If your toddler isn’t feeling it, try some sledding, tubing or ice-skating. Perhaps they need to wait a year, or maybe snowboarding will be their winter sport of choice. The last thing you want to do is put so much pressure on your child that they hate it and never want to go to a mountain again.

This could be a fabulous family activity, or you could be dragging a sulking child up to a winter paradise only to waste money on a lift ticket they will never use. They will want to sit around eating fries and pizza, instead of making “French fries” and “pizza” with their skis.

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Let the magic of winter sports sweep your child away in their own time and with the right tools. Gear, instructors and timing are one part, but your enthusiasm is key. Have fun together and enjoy every part of your time on the mountain. Just don’t forget your camera. No matter how novice or advance your little skier is, these are photographic moments and memories you won’t want to miss.

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