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When should your child start skiing?

So, your children are nagging you to take them on a skiing holiday or perhaps you think it’s about time you got your family on the slopes.  Your first thought is, “Are the kids old enough to ski?”.  You ask Google the question (other search engines are available!) and there are quite a few comments on the subject.  Here are our thoughts on the topic and it’s a system that has worked well for us so far!

Some ski schools/tour operators will take children from when they have just turned 3 years old but we recommend they need to be at least 4-5 years old, and here’s why:

It’s physical!

Think back to when you’ve pushed your body doing a new gym class and how you feel afterwards, it’s tough.  Now imagine your little one  on the slopes for the first time, stuck in those weird things called boots and skis and scraping themselves off the snow, a lot!  It’s tiring and  can seem relentless.  They will ski for 2-2.5 hours for 6 mornings and will mostly be based in the jardin area which is for total beginners.  

 A child aged 4 seems to cope much better with the physical demands of learning to ski far better than one who is younger.  Those extra couple of months in age really do make a difference – for your child, the instructor and you!

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It’s taxing on the brain too!

By the age of 4-5, children have a far better attention span.  They have probably been part of a reception/pre-school/nursery/playgroup setting and can therefore take instructions without having a total meltdown (well most of the time!). If they are not used to this environment, which some 3 year olds aren’t, then being left at ski school on the first morning without their parents can be very unsettling.  It can also mean that parents have to abandon a morning of skiing to collect said child, oh dear!.

Top tip – we do not recommend that you hang around once you have dropped your child off at ski school (in Les Coches, we take your children to ski school for you, lovely!).  You will be a sitting duck if your child suddenly decides he would rather stay with you for the day.  Drop off and ski off, say no more!

Our childcare clubs are expertly designed…

Our childcare clubs have been created to cater for children of all ages, whether they are of skiing age or not.  We have the following clubs (children in the latter two clubs will be skiing):

Powder Pups for children aged 3 months upto 4 years

Powder Hounds for those aged 4-6, and

Adventurers for 7 years plus

The 4-6 year olds in Powder Hounds will ski for 6 mornings, return to one of our chalets for a hot lunch and have fun activities  in the afternoons, and the activity list is endless!  They don’t ski in the afternoons as we want them to make it to the end of the  week, whereas those in Adventurers ski for a further 3 afternoons, they can handle it!

3 year olds can ski too…

Some children are ready to ski a couple of months earlier than our recommended starting age and for them we offer our Powder Pups Plus club, which is for children aged 3 years 9 months up to 4 years old.  If your child is in this age bracket and you think they will be able to ski for 6 mornings and have already been part of a nursery/playgroup setting then they are eligible.  There is a premium to pay but many parents think it’s well worth it.

In short, your child would be a Powder Hound for the week, and would ski, eat and play with the other Hounds. However, if the ski instructor thinks your child has tried skiing but is not ready yet, or your child is simply not enjoying it, then there is a guaranteed place back in the Powder Pups den.  It gives you the reassurance that if your child isn’t ready then they will be well looked after in Powder Pups and they will be perfectly happy enjoying our activities, perhaps they’ll be roaring………..  

We do not recommend that children under 4 years learn to ski, for all of the above reasons!  Our experience has shown that they are more happy playing in the snow rather than trying to ski on it.  Dare we say it, but some parents do get rather excited at the prospect of their young child learning to ski, just remember that they are young and if you are in any doubt, leave it a season.  

You’ll love our Ski School Helpers…

We are really proud of our Ski School Helpers, they are an essential part of your holiday experience and our Family Ski Company team.  They are there to help the beginner skiers and are predominantly based in the jardin area and we are the only company where this is allowed.  They act as a helping pair of hands for your little one – picking them up off the snow, brushing them off and will take them off for a hot chocolate if they’ve had a wobble. They are also there to encourage, so you will often see a Ski School Helper clapping, dancing and jumping around, it’s all part of the job description!  For parents, they will also give you feedback from the ski instructor.

A beginner can be older too!

We also have beginners in our Adventurers club too (aged 7 years plus), but as you can imagine, generally, their speed of learning is far quicker than a 4-5 year old.

Of course, there are adult learners too, but that’s for another article for another day…!

And finally, leave the teaching to the professionals!

If you’ve skied before it’s easy to think that you can pass on your skills to your child but we strongly suggest you stay clear!!!  As well as passing on bad habits and advice, keeping the family in a positive frame of mind is paramount. As much as it may squash your idyllic idea of teaching your child to ski, let a qualified instructor take charge, they are qualified for a reason.  There will be no family arguments, leaving you ending your holiday on the proverbial high rather than one that has hit rock bottom.

Our childcare clubs are the ethos of our company and we have built a great relationship with the ESF in all 3 resorts, meaning your child will get a great English-speaking instructor who in turn knows of the high standards we expect.